You may have heard that on Dec. 21, 2020 Governor Raimondo signed on to the Transportation & Climate Initiative, along with Governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut. For me this was a day to celebrate and congratulate our governor. Why? As an environmental educator at the college level for the last 16 years, and as an oceanographer with expertise in climate science as a climate I feel I can confidently recommend this program to you, my neighbors. This cap and invest program will require large gasoline and diesel fuel suppliers to purchase “allowances” for the pollution that results from the combustion of fuels they sell in the region. Auctioning those allowances will generate proceeds for Rhode Island to invest in equitable, less polluting, and more resilient transportation.

Here are five reasons I recommend it:  

1. It is a cap and invest plan exactly like one that has proven successful for the state already. We are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative which has been limiting CO2 emissions from power plants since 2014. Rhode Island receives proceeds that it has invested in consumer benefits including energy efficiency upgrades and green energy initiatives.

2. Proceeds to  Rhode Island from the Transportation & Climate Initiative will allow  investment  in equitable, less polluting, and more resilient transportation, including mass transit, electric vehicle charging and other clean transportation options.

3. A genuine effort has been made to ensure that money flows to just solutions by investing 35% of proceeds to underserved and overburdened communities. It is well known that communities located near roads are exposed to air pollutants that increase health risks such as asthma and heart disease.

4. It is also expected that these investments will create thousands of jobs, boost economic activity and support transit and transportation solutions that will fuel future economic expansion.

5. Even if producers pass along costs to consumers the Georgetown Climate Center estimates they will only be 5-9 cents gallon while benefits to public health, the environment and the economy will far outweigh any increased costs.

Barbara K. Sullivan-Watts


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