The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaborative of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states dedicated to increasing transportation equity, developing a robust green economy, and reducing the air pollution caused by carbon emissions. What it is not, is a tax.
As designed in Connecticut, TCI-P is a tool to advance racial justice. Those who oppose it now stand at a precarious crossroads where they are using misinformation and engaging in unethical behavior to stop equity and environmental justice from being realized here in Connecticut, especially in Waterbury.
For example, the Yankee Institute published a draft letter that outlined positions of support for further strengthening the equity provisions in TCI-P enabling legislation. In their attempt to stall the creation of more high-wage jobs and transportation equity for urban and rural communities, the Yankee Institute irresponsibly and unethically published the draft letter in a faux news blog post. The author misrepresented the intent of our equity sign-on letter and mischaracterized the content to fit their fictional narrative that TCI-P is a consumer gas tax.
TCI-P’s opposition including the Yankee Institute and other media publications like the Republican American are now speaking more boldly in an attempt to prevent opportunities for racial justice to be advanced, transportation equity to be increased, more access to high wage jobs, and cleaner air for our kids to breathe. These strategies and tactics are reprehensible.
Using propaganda and debunked studies to prevent Black and brown communities from living more whole lives is how systemic power is used to produce or sustain racist outcomes. It’s more than shameful and some would call it explicitly racist. A study by Tufts University lost its cutting edge long ago when the lead researcher Evan Horowitz clearly stated when asked if he would stand behind the studies projections, “I would say no. We were modeling something different than what TCI-P has turned out to be.”
TCI-P is not a gas tax. The recently planned rallies by Republican state legislators were ignited by the Yankee Institute leaking of our equity letter not because TCI-P has proven to cause increases at the pump. These planned rallies represent the values of the pro-poverty, climate denying, and anti-science faction of the Right. In the alternative universe of the Yankee Institute, informed by misinformation and debunked studies, increasing high wage jobs with projects funded by TCI-P auction proceeds is somehow a bad thing.
TCI-P has never been a gas tax and the most recent modeling from the Georgetown Climate Center shows a potential for a 5- to 9-cent per gallon increase at the pump which is far less likely to harm residents who live in highly polluted areas, especially Black and brown and poor folks who suffer disproportionately from particle pollution compared to their white wealthier peers (U.S. EPA, 2019, Section 12.5.4.). Despite the potential impact on gas prices, TCI-P can be adjusted to actually protect low income consumers with rebates and tax incentives that mitigate 100% of the increases for low and moderate income households. TCI-P as designed would also be able to increase investments in cleaner as well as more accessible transportation alternatives. This is what we should agree to do together. Additionally, gas prices are dependent on an international market and regularly fluctuate in value at a much wider range than any predicted impact TCI-P will have in the coming years.
These opponents of TCI-P and others have placed themselves in the precarious position of being anti-racial justice, pro-poverty, and seemingly advocating for air pollution to be ignored. Please stop!
Robert M. Goodrich is Executive Director of RACCE (Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education.)