WASHINGTON (October 10, 2018)—Transportation
is now the biggest source of global warming pollution in Rhode Island and other
states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—and across the region, the transportation
system, including roads, highways and public transit routes, is outdated and
inefficient. But there’s a clear path to a clean and modern system, according
to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
A new push for cleaner vehicles and fuels can
reduce pollution from transportation by 35 percent by 2030 and deliver a broad
range of benefits to communities across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.
That’s the finding of a new analysis from UCS and the
consulting firm M.J. Bradley & Associates. States have an opportunity to
make a difference by improving efficiency, increasing access to electric
vehicles and bringing more low-carbon fuels to the market.
“Whether it’s getting to work, taking our kids
to school or delivering goods, we all have to get from point A to point B,”
said Daniel Gatti, a policy analyst for the Clean Vehicles Program at UCS.
“It’s in all of our interests to make sure the way we get around is clean,
modern and accessible to everyone. Fortunately, there are proven technologies
that can help us get there.”
The new analysis shows that with smart
policies, states can accelerate the deployment of advanced technologies to
build the cleaner transportation system we need for the future. That includes
making cars, trucks and buses more fuel-efficient; speeding up the deployment
of electric vehicles of all sizes, and the infrastructure to support them; and
making more low-carbon fuels available to power vehicles. These policies need
to be developed through an open public process so that a broad range of communities
can work together to build a modern transportation system.
“Burning oil is by far the biggest source of
transportation-related emissions, and that impacts both our health and the
climate,” said Cecilia Moura, a senior engineer for the UCS Clean Vehicles
Program and a co-author of the new analysis. “These steps will help us cut our
oil use dramatically. They’ll also boost the economy by saving drivers money at
the pump. When you compare the investments we need to make to the enormous
benefits we’ll get from these policies, it’s an easy choice.”
These steps won’t just help Northeastern and
Mid-Atlantic states cut pollution—they’ll come with real benefits to consumers
and communities. According to the new research, these policies can:
Reduce consumer spending
on gasoline and diesel fuel by more than $125 billion by 2030 and more than $1
trillion by 2050.
Cut global warming
emissions, relative to 1990 levels, by 37 percent in 2030 and 78 percent in
Reduce air pollution and
its damaging health impacts, saving more than $3 billion in cumulative health
costs by 2030 and $30 billion by 2050.
In Rhode Island, the
analysis shows, cleaner vehicles and fuels can save drivers over $13 billion in
reduced spending on gasoline and diesel fuel by 2050, while cutting greenhouse
gas emissions by almost 40 million metric tons.
Along with investments in cleaner vehicles and
fuels, states must ensure that the transportation system of the future provides
access and opportunity to everyone—including low-income communities, people of
color, older people and those with disabilities, and rural dwellers. A modern
transportation system won’t be sustainable unless it’s designed with input from
communities and with an intentional focus on equity. These investments should go
hand-in-hand with public transit, walking and biking infrastructure, and
affordable housing to make sure everyone can get where they need to go.
“This is a real chance for states in the
Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic to show the way forward,” said Ken Kimmell, the
president of UCS and the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection. “Just as these states, on a regional and bipartisan
basis, have reduced pollution from generating electricity, they should now turn
their focus to transportation—and the pathway is there to build a cleaner