Gov. Charlie Baker’s hope to establish a regional Transportation Climate Initiative has waned further as Rhode Island lawmakers recessed for the summer without entering the agreement.
The lack of action mirrors Connecticut that just a month ago pulled out of the deal amid budget negotiations.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s spokesperson said Lamont has not officially bagged the deal, and “remains committed to the program and to action on the climate crisis,” he said. “TCI has not yet been called for a vote by the General Assembly.”
Thirteen eastern jurisdictions, including Maine, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, expressed interest in the plan in 2019. By the time states signed a memorandum of understanding in December, only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., remained.
The cap-and-invest program would be poised to cut an estimated 26% of carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel vehicles in the region between 2022 and 2032. The agreement would also include an equity component, providing at least 35% of its revenue to underserved communities.
The program would place a declining emissions cap on gas and diesel fuel, and require wholesale fuel suppliers to purchase allowances to cover the fuel emissions.
The deal would generate an estimated $366 million in annual revenues, with about $160 million going directly to Massachusetts, as The Herald previously reported. The program as a whole is expected to generate over $3 billion over the 10 years for participating governments.
“The Baker-Polito Administration understands the challenges in developing an ambitious multi-state program like the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program, but continues to believe the program’s capacity to combat climate change and build better, cleaner transportation infrastructure is unmatched,” said Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokesperson Craig Gilvarg. He added that Massachusetts will only move forward with TCI if multiple states opt in.
The fuel industry in particular has pushed back on this plan, saying costs would be foisted onto consumers at the pump. The Herald previously reported that state officials predict gas prices would rise by 5 to 9 cents per gallon, should the program take effect in 2023.
“Lawmakers have a very good pulse for what their constituents want and realize that there is no desire to raise gasoline and diesel costs anywhere,” Paul Diego Craney, spokesperson for the conservative nonprofit Mass. Fiscal Alliance, said in a statement.