Not so long ago, I was able to pay $2 per gallon at a Shell station when using the discount rewards from shopping at Stop & Shop. Now, only a few months later, the market price of gas is $2.90 at the pump. Whether the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) adds five or ten cents to the cost of a gallon of gas, the cost is miniscule compared to the deleterious effects of our state’s continued gas guzzling habit.

Let’s face it. Market prices for gasoline nowhere near reflect the true cost that emissions from fossil fuels from transportation (the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut) are imposing in terms of public health or climate change.

Ask a parent rushing their child to the emergency room with an asthma attack or an elderly person gasping for air or suffering from a heart attack in a summer heat wave whether they would mind less air pollution in Connecticut’s cities in the summers ahead. Ask anybody who loses power from a massive wind storm or hurricane whether they think state government should be doing our fair share to decrease the effects of climate change by decreasing our carbon footprint. We can’t solve everything, but a five or ten cent price increase is something this economy is clearly capable of supporting.

The Transportation Climate Initiative is structured to steadily decrease the amount of air pollution emissions for sale to companies that sell fossil fuels in Connecticut. The TCI requires the private sector to sell their products with less and less pollution and climate impact over time. It doesn’t tell business what to do, but instead sets the bar so that businesses innovate to solve the problem.

These cap and trade regimes have proven effective in decreasing sulfur dioxide and other pollutants nationally. It is brilliant policy to apply this to our climate crisis and our consistent poor air quality in summer. I applaud the Lamont administration’s leadership in taking this action and hope that people disregard the “no more taxes” criticism.

If there was ever anything public policy should be structured to discourage it’s unnecessary extra miles driven or extra carbon dioxide emitted.

Diane Marie Keefe lives in Norwalk.

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