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9 states to craft regional transportation emissions pricing program

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9 states to craft regional transportation emissions pricing program

Nine Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia have formally announced plans to create a regional cap-and-trade style program to reduce transportation sector emissions.

The Dec. 18 announcement follows a series of public brainstorming sessions in key states organized by the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, which is facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

States behind the announcement are Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Absent from the announcement are three states — Maine, New Hampshire and New York — of the nine that participate in the regional greenhouse gas initiative, a cap-and-trade program for emissions from the electricity sector.

The states that are working with TCI on ways to curb transportation emissions said they plan to complete a policy development process for a cap-and-invest program or another pricing mechanism within one year after which each jurisdiction will decide whether to adopt and implement the policy. They aim to dedicate the funds from the pricing mechanism to investments that promote clean transportation.

The transportation sector produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other U.S. industry sector. Experts and officials say the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states cannot achieve their climate-change goals without tackling those emissions. Many of the states that are looking to curb transportation emissions have adopted economywide emissions reductions of 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels.

Before a deal can be reached, however, the states will need to hash out some key details including establishing an implementation timeline, creating monitoring and reporting guidelines to ensure transportation-related emissions decline over time, identifying which fuels to include, and agreeing to common priorities for allocating the resulting program proceeds.

At the same time the nine states are designing and planning a regional policy, each may also explore complementary state-specific policies, such as coordinated infrastructure planning, land use planning improvements, and the development of green banks and other innovative financing mechanisms, the news release said.