Frequently Asked Questions: Transportation & Climate Initiative Program

What is the relationship between TCI and the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P)? 
The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a long-standing collaboration among NortheastMid-Atlantic, and Southeast states and the District of Columbia to reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollution, create healthier communities, and accelerate investments in cleaner transportation 

 

The bipartisan Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) is a newly launched multi-jurisdictional cap-and-invest program that will cut pollution from on-road gasoline and diesel vehicles in the region by an estimated 26% from 2022-2032; generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually for participating jurisdictions to invest in equitable, less polluting transportation options; and help energize economic recovery.  

 

How will the program work?  

The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI-P) 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 would generate proceeds for the participating jurisdictions to invest in equitable, less polluting, and more resilient transportation. The total number of emission allowances would decline each year, resulting in less transportation pollution. Participating TCI jurisdictions have committed to invest 35% of proceeds  to ensure that overburdened and underserved communities benefit equitably from clean transportation projects and programs. Following one year of emissions reporting in 2022, the program will be fully operational starting in 2023. 

 

If all the jurisdictions that have contributed to the development of the program eventually implement TCI-P, the program would generate $2 billion or more annually for investment in equitable, less polluting, and more resilient transportation, with up to $700 million committed for underserved and overburdened communities.  

 

What are the benefits of starting this program now? 

Taking smart steps to cut the pollution that causes climate change cannot wait. The transportation sector accounts for over 40% of greenhouse gas pollution in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Climate change imposes an increasingly serious burden on communities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions and action to reduce emissions is needed now in order to avoid the most disastrous effects. Exposure to air pollution exacerbates lung and heart ailments, causes asthma attacks and increases the risk of a stroke and other serious health conditions. Prolonged exposure to air pollution may make it more difficult to recover from diseases like COVID-19, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health report. Underserved and overburdened communities experience disproportionately high levels of pollution, increasing vulnerability to health risks.  Cutting pollution and investing in transportation will result in healthier communities – with those who’ve suffered the worst seeing significant improvements. 

 

Investing in a cleaner, modern and innovative transportation system will also have a positive impact on local economies as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. These investments will create thousands of jobs, boost economic activity and support transit and transportation solutions that will fuel future economic expansion. 

 

What are the benefits of multiple jurisdictions participating? 
Transportation and climate issues do not stop at state borders. Implementing an effective approach to address these issues requires multi-jurisdictional solutions that expand upon and complement individual state action. Participating jurisdictions will benefit from the proceeds from the program and will have the flexibility to invest those proceeds to complement transportation, equity, and climate policy priorities at the state-level.  

 

What jurisdictions are participating?  

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia announced December 21, 2020 that they will be the first states to launch the TCI-P.

 

In an accompanying statement, eight other Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast states and the District of Columbia signaled that they will continue to work with the initial four TCI-P jurisdictions (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia on the development of the details of the TCI-P. As part of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia have participated actively in developing the program and have the opportunity to join the TCI-P at any time in the future. If all the TCI jurisdictions eventually choose to participate in TCI-P, total proceeds available for investment could exceed $2 billion annually, and the program could reduce total CO2 emissions by 5 million metric tons in 2032.

 

How is the TCI-P advancing goals of equity and environmental justice? 

The connections between climate change, public health, equity, and justice are more urgent today than they have ever been — and equity and environmental justice have been at the center of the policy development process.  Signatory jurisdictions have committed to invest 35% of proceeds— nearly $100 million in the first year of the program — to ensure that underserved and overburdened communities benefit equitably from clean transportation projects. Participating jurisdictions will designate an advisory body with diverse representation  with a majority of members being representatives of overburdened and underserved communities or populations — to identify underserved and overburdened communities, provide guidance for investments, and define goals and metrics for measuring progress. Jurisdictions will ensure transparency by annually reviewing and reporting on program progress and will work with communities and with its Equity Advisory Body to assess the equity impacts of the program on an ongoing basis, including by monitoring air quality in communities overburdened by air pollution to ensure the effectiveness of policies and investments. Jurisdictions will also continue to work individually — and together — on the many policies needed to reduce pollution from transportation and advance shared goals of equity and environmental justice. 

 

How will the program proceeds be invested to support local communities? 
It will be up to each participating state to independently decide how to invest program proceeds. This will allow each state the flexibility to choose investments that most benefit their communities and unique needs. Some investments could include expanded transit services; zero-emission buses, cars, and trucks; broadband services that allow for teleworking; and safer bike lanes and sidewalks. These potential investments that reduce greenhouse gas pollution will create jobs, spur economic activity, benefit communities, and reduce harmful air pollution. 

 
What are the benefits of using a “cap-and-invest" approach? 
Cap-and-invest is a policy tool that has been used in the United States and around the world to reduce harmful pollution. Multi-jurisdictional and state cap-and-invest programs have effectively reduced carbon emissions and other dangerous air pollution and strengthened the clean energy sector, all while growing the overall economy and providing polluting industries flexibility to reduce emissions in a variety of ways. Cap-and-invest applies specifically to programs in which emission allowances are auctioned, with the proceeds invested by participating jurisdictions to further reduce greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. The TCI-P cap-and-invest program was designed with equity as a central focusfollowing robust input, to ensure that the program will advance equity for communities overburdened by pollution and underserved by the transportation system Under TCI-P, the total number of emission allowances would decline each year, resulting in fewer overall emissions from the combustion of fuel by vehicles. Investments of allowance auction proceeds would further reduce vehicle emissions and help transform the transportation system. 

 

What are the public health benefits of the program? 
Cutting pollution and investing in transportation alternatives will result in healthier communities – with those who’ve suffered the most from transportation-related pollution burdens seeing significant improvements. In 2032, the TCI-P could result in health benefits of up to $200 million and safety benefits of $60 million— a combined total of $260 million in benefitsThese estimates are based on TCI-P modeling document results from an independent study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other leading researchers (Transportation, Equity, Climate and Health (TRECH) Project, Cambridge Systematics)Those benefits would come in the form of fewer deaths from increased physical activity, avoided deaths and injuries from improved safety, and fewer deaths and hospital visits for asthma and other respiratory diseases. If all TCI jurisdictions implement the program, the study found that health benefits for the region could be substantial and larger than estimated TCI-P program proceeds.  The same study found that the TCI-P could create health benefits in all counties across the region, from rural counties to urban counties. 

 

More Resources on the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program