Draft Plan for Green Transportation Draws Praise

Switching to electric buses will help ensure all communities benefit from the Transportation and Climate Initiative. Photo credit: Oleksandr/Adobe Stock.

ALBANY, N.Y. – The draft of a policy proposal for a regional effort to switch to electric vehicles is getting strong support from clean-energy advocates. Building on the success of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in reducing emissions from the electric power sector, 13 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have now outlined their plans to reduce emissions from transportation – now the greatest source of greenhouse-gas emissions.

According to Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, the plan would set a cap on emissions and require wholesalers of gas and diesel fuel to buy allowances to cover up-to that level of pollution.

“Over time, that cap would be reduced,”Reynolds explained. “And that would be a way to generate some revenue that can be reinvested in electric vehicle charging and electric vehicle incentives.”

The Transportation and Climate Initiative expects to release a final draft of a memorandum of understanding in spring 2020 for consideration by the participating states.

Reynolds added the plan also has a strong emphasis on equity, ensuring the benefits of clean transportation are shared by low-income communities and those most vulnerable to a changing climate.

“Not everyone has their own personal car. Not everyone wants or can afford a Tesla,” she said. “But we can get electric school buses, city buses, dump trucks, and that would help clear the air in places that need it.”

The switch to electric vehicles will increase the need for electrical generating capacity. Reynolds pointed out many of the states in the transportation initiative also have aggressive goals for renewable electricity.

“Both of those things have to happen on parallel tracks,” she said. “We have to build more wind and solar and offshore wind so the electricity becomes cleaner, and we have to change over all the vehicles to become electric.”

Reynolds said the next challenge will be formulating a complimentary set of policies to take on emissions from the building heating sector.

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