Northeast States Take Critical Step to Tackling Climate Change, Modernizing Transportation

WASHINGTON – A group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states have agreed to create a plan to cut emissions from transportation. In a memorandum of understanding, the states laid out a process that will cap transportation emissions and invest in clean transportation around the region—a powerful step in the right direction, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.

“At a time when the climate crisis is more urgent than ever, the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states are rising to the challenge. If the states proceed with these policies, they’ll significantly reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector, the largest source of carbon emissions in the region; improve public health; and make transportation cleaner, more affordable and more reliable. Today’s memorandum of understanding offers us a path forward, putting a program in place that states can continue to review and build on.

“The potential benefits are enormous. The plan offers billions of dollars in clean transportation investments that will give residents more reliable and affordable options to get around—around $17 billion in the first three years alone. By cutting oil use from light- and heavy-duty vehicles, this plan will also reduce dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, which UCS research has shown disproportionately affects communities of color in the region. Done right, the combination of emissions reductions and serious transportation investments will improve access, public health and quality of life.

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“However, we need to make sure this program delivers benefits across the region, especially to the communities that have been most impacted by transportation pollution and historically excluded from the policymaking process. Fortunately, the next few months will offer an open process to bring communities into the policy design.

“The states’ announcement lays out three potential trajectories for transportation emissions in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region, calling for reductions of 20, 22 or 25 percent over the next 10 years. As the states’ analysis demonstrates, the most ambitious option offers the greatest benefits for the region, in terms of cleaner air, greater economic growth, and increased disposable income. This agreement demonstrates that states should move forward with the strongest possible program to cut emissions and improve transportation.

“It’s important that this announcement comes not as the end of the story, but as a step in a process that’s ongoing. We will continue to engage with state leaders to make sure the policies that emerge, and the investments that result, are ambitious, equitable and responsive to community needs. We can and must build a clean, modern transportation system in the region, and now we know the path that will take us there.”

The agreement includes 12 states and the District of Columbia. Together, these jurisdictions make up 22 percent of the U.S. population and 25 percent of U.S. GDP.

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