I was disappointed by the little attention given to the public health perspective on this policy. The truth about the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) is that it is as much about climate change as it is a bold and necessary step forward for public health. It is poised to reduce transportation pollution, reduce the carbon pollution that causes climate change, improve health and invest in cleaner, faster and more reliable public transportation.
Through these measures, this legislation will also greatly decrease ozone and particle pollution which cause a number of health impacts, including aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, increased respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular harm and even premature death.
Communities of color and low-income communities, moreover, face inequitable pollution burdens exacerbated by vehicle traffic, particularly from diesel-burning vehicles and transit depots and freight hubs, which tend to be sited in their neighborhoods. Many of these same communities, as well as people with disabilities, older residents, rural residents and others often face barriers to health care, social services, and jobs. COVID-19 has further demonstrated the connection between air quality and poor health outcomes, with disproportionate impacts in communities of color. There is a need to act swiftly to protect these communities and our most vulnerable populations.
TCI-P not only will help reduce pollution, it will actually make a meaningful investment in our communities and work towards health and environmental justice.
In light of the broad, necessary and long-term benefits that this law will have on Connecticut residents and their families’ health and well-being, the American Lung Association strongly supports TCI-P, and urges the state legislature to codify it into law.
Ruth Canovi is Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut.