New report examines benefits, costs of region-wide effort to reduce emissions from cars and trucks

Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University’s Tisch College estimates the potential impact of Transportation Climate Initiative
Cars sit in traffic on a busy highway at nighttime
Image via Pixabay

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (Nov. 19, 2020)-A report released today by the Center for State Policy Analysis (cSPA) at Tufts University’s Tisch College describes the potential impact of the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) – a proposal to curb emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel – in Massachusetts and other Northeastern states.

The report details how the TCI program would work, including information about the size of potential emissions reductions, the public health benefits, new state revenues and possible increases to average gasoline prices.

In addition to Massachusetts, the jurisdictions where TCI is under consideration include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C. This analysis focuses on states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic.

The key themes and findings of the report include:

  • TCI works by setting a limit on carbon emissions from motor vehicles and then creating an auction where fuel suppliers bid for the right to sell gasoline and diesel with a certain amount of carbon. Those auctions encourage fuel efficiency and raise money for green investments and climate justice initiatives.
  • TCI’s auctions would generate substantial revenue for participating states, amounting to billions of dollars each year across the region and hundreds of millions in Massachusetts.
  • In addition to curbing carbon emissions, TCI would also improve public health by reducing pollutants that contribute to asthma and respiratory issues.
  • TCI would almost certainly result in higher gas prices, and the size of the increase would depend on the stringency of the emissions target.
  • Not all regions of Massachusetts would be similarly affected by TCI. More diverse urban areas currently have the worst pollution, and therefore stand to gain the most from reduced tailpipe emissions. Meanwhile, less densely-populated suburban and rural communities in Central and Western Massachusetts spend the highest share of their income on gasoline, making them more vulnerable to price increases.
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