FROM OUR PRINTED NOV. 1, 2020 EDITION:
by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter
Ceres, a Boston-based sustainability non-profit, through powerful networks and directed advocacy, works to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, which include Climate Change, water scarcity and pollution, and equity in the workplace. Its mission is to “transform the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.”
In its effort to halt Climate Change or Global Warming, it strongly advocates for the adoption of the recommendations in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) (see Boston Broadside, January 2020).
TCI is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and D.C. that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector and use any funds collected to fix roads and bridges and promote electric vehicles. This is a simple carbon tax, but TCI disingenuously calls it a cap and invest program. Governor Patrick’s administration signed up Massachusetts in 2010.
This fall, TCI is asking its member states to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which would allow each state to assess a tax on gas and diesel fuels of up to 17 cents/gal. Some states like New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont have had second thoughts about this huge increase on the price of car and truck fuels.
To help push the MoU over the top, Ceres recruited or cajoled or embarrassed 100 companies and groups into signing a letter urging each of the governors of the 12 states to sign the MoU. In other words, these 100 organizations are advocating for a huge increase in the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.
The letter below shows you what was sent to Governor Charlie Baker. Note that it doesn’t actually say how much of an increase there will be in the cost of fuel and tries to explain that it is not a tax. This is deliberate obfuscation to help justify the end goal of getting rid of fossil fuels.
The companies located in or doing business in Massachusetts are shown in bold. The next time you do business with any of them, and they ask for your feedback, tell them how unhappy you are that they want to substantially raise your cost of gasoline through TCI policies.
The Honorable Charlie Baker
Office of the Governor
State House Boston, MA 02133
October 8, 2020
RE: Employer Support for Regional Proposal for Clean Transportation
Dear Governor Baker:
We are a diverse group of organizations and businesses united by the extraordinary opportunity to modernize and decarbonize our region’s transportation system. We are writing to express our strong support for the draft Memorandum of Understanding on the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).
We believe that the policy created through TCI will achieve several of our shared goals focused on responding to the impacts of COVID-19: deploying necessary clean transportation technologies; mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from transportation; investing in much-needed public transit, alternative transportation and road infrastructure; and more.
Why TCI is Not a Gas Tax
TCI is a carbon pricing system focused on an essential outcome: reducing pollution from the transportation sector. A gas tax, by contrast, allows states to raise and spend revenues however they like. TCI’s carbon pricing system focuses on reducing pollution from the transportation sector by placing a cap on carbon emissions while auctioning emissions allowances; proceeds of which would only go towards low-GHG transportation improvements.
Investment in Transportation Infrastructure and EVs
We are heartened by the opportunity to invest TCI proceeds in new and improved transit solutions that will make transit, alternative transportation modes, and electrification of transportation more affordable, reliable, safe, and accessible. Public transit remains the most low-congestion, carbon-efficient, affordable and equitable way to move people. TCI proceeds could improve public transit, offer more choices for individuals, and encourage the purchase of electric and low-carbon-emitting vehicles (fleets, buses, passenger vehicles, trucks and rail). Electrification of all forms of transportation and deployment of equitably distributed public charging infrastructure is also a critical component of accelerated transportation decarbonization for which TCI can support.
Tackle Emissions for Those Most Impacted by Pollution
States have an opportunity to use the TCI proceeds to prioritize emissions reductions in overburdened and underserved communities that are disproportionately burdened by pollution and have the least access to reliable transportation options. We support the TCI states’ efforts to dedicate funding to these most vulnerable communities and the creation of inclusive processes to ensure equity in the program. The creation and empowerment of individual state Equity Commissions and transparency in data across the region will ensure environmental justice communities have a voice in the implementation of the program and the allocation of revenue generated through it.
Benefits for Rural Communities
TCI proceeds can and should be used to give residents more choices and support economic development in rural communities. Funds can be used to increase broadband access, support EV charging infrastructure in rural areas, and enable more frequent bus service or better access to commuter trains. For those who have to drive, EV cost savings increase the more miles a vehicle travels on the road.
The existing transportation system is a roadblock to our economic and our climate goals. We feel an urgency to create a transportation future that enables economic growth and substantial decarbonization. We encourage all participating states to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.
Anbaric Development Partners
Argyle Brewing Company, LLC
Ben and Jerry’s Homemade, Inc.*
Big Tree Farms, Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts*
Boston Common Asset Management*
Boston Trust Walden*
Capilano + Company
DIAG Studios, PLLC.
Domini Impact Investments, LLC
Drawing Conclusions, LLC
DSM North America*
Eco-Bags Products, Inc.
Edelmann Love Properties, Inc.
Enel North America*
Evergreen Home Performance, LLC
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Future Proof Brands, LLC
Glen’s Garden Market
Green Century Capital Management
Green Clean Maine
Hackensack Meridian Health*
Happy Family Organics
Happy Tails Day Care and Pet Resort
IKEA North American Services, LLC*
Inherent Group, LP.
Investor Advocates for Social Justice*
Kendall Sustainable Infrastructure, LLC
Legal Sea Foods*
M&E Engineers, Inc.
Metis Consulting Group
Pax World Funds*
Rivanna Natural Designs, Inc.
Saunders Hotel Group
School Sisters of Notre Dame Cooperative Investments
Schroder Investment Management North America
Sigma Consultants, Inc.
State Street Corporation*
Studio G Architects
The Green Engineer, Inc.
The Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge*
Trillium Asset Management*
Vert Asset Management
Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates
Higher Education Institutions
Eastern Connecticut State University
Framingham State University
Montgomery County Community College
Saint Peter’s University
UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Virginia Wesleyan University
Widener University Commonwealth
Bold indicates signatories with operations and/or investments in Massachusetts.
* Denotes over $100 Million in annual revenue or $1 billion or more in assets under management.
For more information or to connect with the signatories please contact
Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Department of Transportation