Sierra Club Op-Ed: Adopt RGGI Approach to Curb Transportation Air Pollution

In an op-ed for the Maryland Reporter (2018-11-05), Maryland Sierra Club Transportation Director Lindsey Mendelson and Washington DC Sierra Club Chair Mark Rodeffer argued that Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic states must change their transportation systems in order to reduce harmful air emissions and reduce congestion. The writers advocated for instituting either a carbon “cap and trade” system for the transportation sector, similar to what has been done for power emissions under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), or a carbon tax on vehicle emissions. The writers also stressed the importance of providing greater incentives to walk, bike, or use public transportation and electrify trucks and vehicle fleets.

In Maryland, the transportation and energy sectors are the two largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. The op-ed noted that a recent survey conducted by the Sierra Club found support for clean transportation systems in Maryland, Delaware, and other Mid-Atlantic states. From the op-ed:

Gov. Larry Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower have already pledged to develop a regional policy to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector. Listening sessions in Boston, Albany and New York City in the Northeast are part of a series of meetings that are also focused on developing a Mid-Atlantic regional initiative. …

Air pollution is a concern for 74% of those polled in Maryland, with 33% considering air pollution a very serious problem and 41% considering it a somewhat serious problem. 81% think that cars and trucks contribute either a great deal (40%) or somewhat (41%) to air pollution, and there is significant bipartisan support for state and regional plans to address transportation-related air pollution. …

One possible path for Maryland, D.C., and neighboring states to pursue clean transportation goals is to adopt an initiative similar to the very successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). …

It is estimated that a RGGI-like approach would cut transportation climate pollution by 40%, create more than 100,000 new jobs and put $14.4 billion in families’ pockets – all by 2030.

The op-ed concluded by calling on for Maryland and Washington, DC to lead a broader climate change initiative to address air emissions from transportation through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States.

Useful Links

Sierra Club 2018 Transportation Poll Webpage