The Big Oil interests behind the attacks on TCI are aggressively funding the spread of myths and falsehoods about the regional cap and invest policy, relying on long debunked talking points, cherry-picked data and outright deception. Here are the facts about TCI and its regional policy.
Fact: TCI will make transportation more affordable and accessible
By requiring mandatory reductions from the sector of the economy that currently produces the highest emissions in the region, the Transportation and Climate Initiative will play a significant role in reducing air pollution from vehicles, especially in marginalized communities that suffer disproportionately from dirty diesel fumes. A recent study by the Transportation, Equity, Climate and Health (TRECH) Project at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the estimated health benefits under all five TCI planning scenarios studied were larger than the entire proceeds generated by the program.
Meanwhile, proceeds generated by the program will be spent on more affordable, equitable, and accessible transportation options that benefit all citizens—not just drivers of personal vehicles. Proceeds can be spent to improve mass transit, zero-emission electric buses and delivery trucks, safer streets for walking and bicycling, and more affordable transit-oriented housing developments.
Fact: TCI could reduce greenhouse gas pollution 25% within a decade
A comprehensive analysis of the program found that the strongest proposed version of TCI would cut regional carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel use by 25 percent within a decade. Analysts modeled business-as-usual emissions and then applied various cap reductions for the carbon allowances. Looking at one possible scenario, when the cap is reduced 25%, proceeds would total roughly $5.6 billion per year, which could be spent on programs to protect lower-income drivers from cost burdens, and on other affordable and accessible transportation solutions like enhanced mass transit.
Fact: TCI would rely on a market-based program to reduce pollution
The Transportation and Climate Initiative would put a price on carbon pollution, using a market-based system to internalize the external costs of greenhouse gas emissions. The program achieves this by utilizing a “cap-and-invest” strategy.
Cap-and-invest is an approach that limits the total amount of emissions from an industry or sector, in this case transportation. The total emissions limit (the “cap”) will be reduced over time, meaning that less pollution is permitted from the sale of transportation fuels, yielding cleaner air and improved public health.
Under TCI, every petroleum fuel distributor must hold an ‘allowance’ for every ton of pollution in the fuels they sell. The program administrators (the states) create allowances equal to the total amount of pollution allowed under the cap for that year.
The allowances are then auctioned, with each distributor purchasing allowances through the auctions to cover its emissions.
Fact: States will set their own terms under TCI and proceeds will be invested back into the states they were generated from
Under the Transportation and Climate Initiative, it is strictly guaranteed that state governors and legislatures would determine how best to use their state’s share of the proceeds generated by the program’s carbon allowance auctions. Decisions of how to spend the funds would be determined by the state legislation or through development of annual investment plans. Across the region, the program is expected to generate up to $6.25 billion a year for investment, to be divided amongst the participating states.