Rhode Island planning to join regional Transportation & Climate Initiative

The program would cap sales of fuels that produce carbon pollution, impose a carbon allowance fee on distributors, and use that money to fund clean transportation alternatives.

By: Tim Studebaker

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island is hoping to do its part to cut down on pollution from car traffic, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving air quality and public health.  The state plans to join Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington DC in a new bipartisan, regional transportation and climate initiative.

RI DEM Director Janet Coit says, “When President Trump announced right after being elected that he was pulling out of the Paris commitment, many of the governors involved in the Transportation and Climate Initiative, including Governor Raimondo said ‘We’re going to work together to make sure we meet those targets.'”

According to Coit, transportation accounts for the lion’s share of carbon pollution produced in our region.

Coit says, “We have to do something about transportation if we’re going to meet our climate goals.”

The new program limits sales of fuels that produce carbon pollution, like gasoline.  That limit would drop each year.  Fuel companies would be required to purchase a carbon allowance to sell their product.

Coit says, “It really pushes innovation to these companies.”

Fuel companies could either switch to selling lower carbon fuels, absorb the cost of the carbon allowance, or pass it along to the consumer at the gas pump.

Coit says, “The program’s been designed to ensure that wouldn’t be more than – would be around 5 cents a gallon.”

In Rhode Island, the program is expected to bring in $20-million per year.  That money would fund clean transportation efforts like public transit improvements, programs to encourage drivers to switch to electric cars, improving bike lanes, and even increasing internet service access to encourage telecommuting.

Coit says, “It’s really exciting to see a new program at a regional scale… in order to dramatically reduce emissions over the next 10, 20, 30 years.”

State lawmakers will vote in 2021 whether to officially authorize Rhode Island’s participation in the program.  The emissions cap would start in 2023.

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2020

Categories: News, Regional News, Rhode Island