Immovable Object, meet Unstoppable Force

The pundits said it couldn’t be done, but you have proved them wrong.

Ever since the launch of the Energy Independent Vermont campaign we’ve been told by the powers-that-be that Vermont is too small, too rural, too poor, too cold, too dependent on gas and oil to ever consider charging fossil fuel companies a fee for climate pollution and using the revenues to transition to a cleaner, more equitable economy. “We need to maintain the status quo,” was their message.

Well, yesterday, your unstoppable force pushed an immovable object into action. Here are some of the headlines:

Rutland Herald: Coalition of states to work to curb transportation emissions

Commonwealth Magazine: Mass. joins regional bid to price transportation carbon: Revenues from fuel permits would be used to reduce emissions

NHPR: Northeast States Plan New Program To Cut Transportation Emissions

And here is the meat of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) announcement:

Informed by input from hundreds of stakeholders and expert analysis, the participating TCI jurisdictions will design a regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each TCI jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure… The participating TCI jurisdictions plan to complete the policy development process within one year, after which each jurisdiction will decide whether to adopt and implement the policy. The participants intend this program to be implemented on a regional basis after a critical mass of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have completed the legal processes to implement the agreed upon pricing mechanism.

Let’s be clear: This is just the first step in a process that would require the cooperation of many parties (some of whom have not exactly been climate champions in the past). Our excitement over this development does not mean that we aren’t still eagerly awaiting the Joint Fiscal Office’s decarbonization study or that we won’t be pushing our elected leaders to use that study as a roadmap for pricing carbon pollution in 2019.

There are a lot of details to work out, but this is the type of action we have been fighting for.

A few things to share…

  • This progress would not have occurred without you. Your polite, but tireless, pressure on the governor and the Legislature has moved Vermont forward. There is no doubt that without you, Vermont would not be at the table as the northeast states spend the next year designing a carbon pricing program for the transportation sector. THANK YOU!
  • This is the beginning of a process, not the end of it. Energy Independent Vermont will be engaged at every step of the way to make sure the TCI program meets our shared objectives of a stronger economy, equity for the most vulnerable and a reduction in carbon pollution — and that the Scott Administration follows through on the commitment they made yesterday.
  • Let’s be cautiously optimistic about the TCI process, but acknowledge that even if this program is wildly successful, it will be incomplete. At the moment, the TCI discussion is only about pollution from cars and trucks, which make up less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. There is more to do. We can’t allow the potential of limited future action across the region to delay actions we can take as a state today.

What’s next?

Share a message with Gov. Phil Scott thanking him for participating in the Transportation & Climate Initiative and asking him to engage the General Assembly and the public in the TCI process in ways that are accessible, transparent and grounded in good policy, not politics.

Your message today will help get the TCI process off on the right foot.