Northeast states takes first step in effort to reduce transportation emissions

Northeast states takes first step in effort to reduce transportation emissions
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A coalition of New England and mid-Atlantic states on Tuesday took a first step toward limiting transportation emissions across 13 states.

At the heart of the draft proposal is an effort that would place pollution limits on middlemen who bring gasoline to U.S. consumers, forcing those companies to buy credits to compensate for pollution that will stem from their products. 

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The effort, known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), is based on another similar regional cap and trade initiative known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI limits pollution from power plants, forcing utilities to pay if they exceed the caps.

States from Maine to Virginia are banding together to form a similar cooperative, but instead of power plants their efforts will be focused on oil terminals that store fuel before it heads to market as well distributors of gasoline.

Members of TCI are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia as well as the District of Columbia.

Taking on transportation emissions is an ambitious project. The sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in car-reliant America. Leaders involved in the effort are unsure whether their proposal would raise prices at the pump.

“By working together on this, we can really deliver a better, cleaner, more resilient transportation system benefiting all of our communities, particularly those who are underserved by current transportation and also disproportionately affected by pollution,” said Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

A final agreement isn’t expected until spring 2020. Theoharides and others involved in the initiative said they have not yet decided how much to try to limit pollution.

The effort comes as the Trump administration has reduced tailpipe emissions standards and proposed weakening fuel economy for vehicles.