GOV. CHARLIE BAKER threw in the towel on his climate transport initiative Thursday just days after Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont did the same in his state.
“The Baker-Polito administration has always maintained that the Commonwealth will only move forward with TCI if multiple states engage, and, as this does not exist, the climate transport initiative is no longer the best solution for them. Commonwealth transport and environmental needs, “said Terry MacCormack, the governor’s press secretary, in a statement.
Lamont has indicated he may return to the initiative after next year’s election, but Baker’s statement indicated he intends to move forward and not look back. It’s a startling turnaround for a concept that once captured the interest of a dozen states in the northeast and central Atlantic and has become a mainstay of the Baker administration’s plan to achieve zero emissions. net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Katie Theoharides, the governor’s secretary for energy and environmental affairs, said in December 2020, when Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia announced they were moving forward with the initiative. on the transportation climate, that Massachusetts needed the program if it was going to have a chance to meet its goal of net zero emissions. “We can’t do this without a program like this,” she said.
She declined to comment when asked about the initiative Thursday after a groundbreaking ceremony on Cape Cod for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm. She said the administration would issue a statement on the initiative later today.
Massachusetts was the only state to support the transportation climate initiative until Thursday. The governors of Rhode Island and Connecticut were unable to get it through their legislatures; Baker had the power to sign due to previous legislation giving him the power to act on his own.
The Transportation Climate Initiative was intended to be a cap and trade program for automotive fuels. Fuel wholesalers would buy allowances at auction that would allow them to sell gasoline in Massachusetts and other participating states. The number of allowances would be reduced each year, raising the price of gasoline and prompting drivers to switch to electric vehicles.
Opponents as well as some supporters called the transport climate initiative a disguised gasoline tax, but supporters said the approach was a nuanced two-step approach to tackling climate change by making the more expensive gasoline while generating the revenue needed to build the infrastructure needed to transition away from gasoline-powered vehicles.
In its statement Thursday, the Baker administration said the federal infrastructure package, American Rescue Plan Act funding and excess state tax revenues will now become the funding mechanisms for building the infrastructure needed to reduce emissions from transport and meet the government’s climate targets.
Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which opposed the transportation climate initiative, said he was happy that Massachusetts had finally abandoned what he called a “regressive regime.” tax on gasoline ”, which he said would have hurt the middle class and working poor. more. He thanked his allies in the fight – Citizens for Limited Taxation, the Beacon Hill Institute, the National Federation of Independent Business, Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Jim Lyons, and Boston herald columnist Howie Carr.