Our transportation system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Public transit in New York is deteriorating. The entire region is at risk. Of the top 10 states with the worst infrastructure, eight are in the Northeast. In 2017, the transportation sector surpassed electricity production as the largest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. for the first time in 40 years. To make matters even worse, the White House is rolling back many Obama-era environmental rules, including regulations that would set tougher emissions standards for motor vehicles.
In the absence of an adequate national strategy for dealing with climate change, New York and several other Northeastern states created the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to take matters into their own hands. Established in 2010, TCI is a regional collaboration of 13 state environmental, energy, and transportation agencies that have been working together to improve transportation systems and reduce pollution.
In December 2018, most of the TCI states committed to developing a clean transportation policy by the end of 2019. The goal of this policy is to establish a transportation system that will reduce congestion, promote walking, bicycling, and transit use, support innovation and economic growth, improve air quality, help communities become resilient to extreme weather events, and equitably share the benefits and burdens among users.
New York was not part of that commitment. NYLCV joined other advocacy groups in Our Transportation Future (OTF), to press for New York to act and advocate for the best approach to address emissions from the transportation sector.
OTF will actively support TCI’s efforts to create low-carbon transportation solutions for the entire region. It will help transform a decaying, unworkable, and outdated transportation system into a regional model for the nation that gets people in rural, suburban and urban communities where they need to go safely, more efficiently and with less exposure to harmful pollution. OTF’s experts are determined to take an active role in educating state policymakers and informing the media about the ongoing efforts to modernize transportation system of TCI states.
Transportation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states contributes to 42% of greenhouse gas emissions in the TCI region, making it the largest regional source of carbon pollution. Air pollution poses numerous threats to our health, particularly to our children and the elderly, and is responsible for more than 100,000 annual deaths in the U.S.
It will take cooperation between states to make a meaningful impact in our fight against climate change. Regional, market-based approaches are effective and result in policies that are environmentally and economically sound. NYLCV and the OTF coalition will continue to advocate for this type of regional approach for our transportation system.