VPIRG members have been pushing for an equitable, substantial Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) for several years. We believe a well-designed program can boost our economy, reduce climate emission, and address inequities in our transportation systems.
In December 2020, a bipartisan group of governors and mayors from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia announced that they will be the first jurisdictions to join the program; and while Gov. Phil Scott missed the opportunity to lead last year, there is still time for Vermont to catch up.
Throughout the TCI-P development process, VPIRG has insisted that the program achieve three critical needs: it must strengthen the Vermont economy, reduce carbon pollution, and address equity – specifically the needs of communities that are overburdened by fossil fuel pollution and underserved by cleaner transportation options.
Thanks to VPIRG members’ input and the feedback of environmental justice advocates across the region, the TCI-P has been significantly improved over the years, and it could still be improved further. Here’s where things stand on our three top priorities:
TCI-P has made some strides, but there is still a ways to go. For example, the current program rules stipulate that a minimum of 35% of TCI-P proceeds are to be used “to ensure that overburdened and underserved communities benefit equitably from clean transportation projects and programs.”2 That’s up from the very vague commitment governors made to address equity concerns just 16 months ago, but it still may not be enough.3 If the population of “overburdened and underserved communities” is higher than 35% in a state – as might be the case in Vermont – we believe that TCI-P funding must exceed the share of the population in communities that need additional support.
If all of the states considering joining TCI-P, including Vermont, sign up before 2022, the program is forecast to reduce climate emissions from the transportation sector by 26% over the next decade.1 And we have to reign in transportation emissions. They account for 45% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont.
Over 100 Vermont businesses recently called for Gov. Scott to join TCI-P.4 Their case is sound: “Of the $2 billion a year Vermont averages in fossil fuel spending, roughly 75%, or $1.5 billion, leaves our state’s economy. Conversely, investing in renewable energy and efficiency solutions keeps a much higher portion of our energy dollars here in Vermont, creates family-sustaining jobs, and spurs economic growth.” TCI-P offers a “historic opportunity to advance solutions that recognize our shared responsibility to take climate action, improve our ailing transportation infrastructure, stimulate our economy, and strengthen our most vulnerable communities.”
We have a chance to accomplish multiple goals by joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program, but that will only happen if Gov. Scott and his administration hear from you. Can you take a couple of minutes to share your support here? https://www.transportationandclimate.org/main-menu/tci-regional-policy-design-stakeholder-input-form
Would you like to know more about the TCI-P program and development process? Here are some helpful resources:
- Regional Transportation & Climate Initiative website
- Green For All: An Equity Toolkit for the Transportation & Climate Initiative
- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Transportation & Climate Initiative website with translated fact sheets in Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese and Spanish
- TRECH (Transportation, Equity, Climate & Health) Project – a joint study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment at the University of North Carolina, and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health