TCI jurisdictions share proposals to ensure equity in regional transportation program during public webinar

Dedicated investments could generate up to $2 billion for overburdened and underserved communities
 
During a public webinar on September 29, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia collaborating as part of the Transportation & Climate Initiative provided updates on the public input they have received this year and shared a slate of proposed commitments intended to advance goals of equity and environmental justice in a regional low-carbon transportation program.

Sept. 29 Webinar Resources


More than 600 people attended the online event, which included opening remarks from Mustafa Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization at The National Wildlife Federation; Vernice Miller-Travis of Metropolitan Group; and Vicki Arroyo of the Georgetown Climate Center. 

The event featured presentations by TCI Chair Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; TCI Vice-Chair Earl Lewis, Deputy Secretary at the Maryland Department of Transportation; and other state officials, who shared examples of what their states are doing to advance equitable transportation policies. During the webinar, state officials also heard from environmental justice advocates and frontline community leaders from across the TCI region and took questions from attendees. 

The proposed equity-focused commitments states presented address four topics frequently raised in the extensive public input submitted in response to the TCI Draft MOU released in December 2019: 
  1. Dedicated investments for underserved and overburdened communities; 
  2. Equitable processes; 
  3. Transparency; and 
  4. Complementary policies that advance the goals of equity and environmental justice. 

The TCI jurisdictions are encouraging interested people and organizations to provide their feedback via the TCI public input portal. After considering public feedback and further consultation, the commitments would be reflected in the final Memorandum of Understanding, which is expected later this fall.

Summary of the proposed commitments presented on the webinar:
 
1. Dedicated Investments
Establish a minimum investment requirement of 35%. Jurisdictions would agree to an investment requirement to ensure that underserved and overburdened communities benefit equitably from clean transportation projects.
 
Based on initial modeling of cap levels and investments, this translates into between $490 million to nearly $2 billion in investments from program proceeds for underserved and overburdened communities in just the first year of the program.
 
2. Equitable Processes
Each Participating Jurisdiction would establish an Equity Advisory Body (or Bodies) composed of diverse stakeholder groups, including residents of underserved and overburdened communities – or designate an existing body that meets this description – to advise on decision-making and equitable outcomes for the TCI program. Potential roles of an Advisory Body could include: 
  • Developing criteria for defining underserved and overburdened communities – building on existing criteria and definitions, where applicable; 
  • Providing recommendations for equitable investments of TCI proceeds and complementary policies that would achieve the requisite benefits for underserved and overburdened communities; and 
  • Developing metrics for evaluating how TCI investments demonstrably provide direct and meaningful benefits for underserved and overburdened communities. 
 
To ensure that affected communities are able to provide meaningful input, each Participating Jurisdiction would conduct community outreach to underserved and overburdened communities. 
 
3. Transparency
The Participating Jurisdictions will annually review and report the impacts of each Participating Jurisdiction’s individual program, including with respect to equity. Annual reports will specify how TCI program proceeds are spent by each Participating Jurisdiction and include lists of projects and programs supported by TCI proceeds and the levels of investment received by each. 
 
4. Complementary Policies 
Complementary policies in each jurisdiction will serve an important role in achieving the regional program’s goals.  Many TCI jurisdictions are enacting complementary policies that advance goals of equity and environmental justice, including policies where states working together either as a region or through multi-state commitments. Several states presented examples of such policies during the webinar. A summary document with additional examples from across the region is also available.
 
Webinar resources
More about the Transportation & Climate Initiative:
The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia with two goals: 
  • Make significant reductions in greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollution from transportation across the region; and 
  • Deliver equitable, less polluting, and more resilient transportation systems that provide residents with low-carbon choices that benefit all communities, particularly those underserved by current transportation options and disproportionately burdened by pollution.
 
All interested people are encouraged to provide feedback via the online TCI Input Portal. The portal will remain open throughout the policy development process; submissions related to the above proposals are most helpful if received by Thursday, October 15, 2020.