February 8, 2019
Electricity is responsible for about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions. To go further, states will also have to clean up the cars and trucks on their roads, which account for another third.
In December, nine Eastern states and the District of Columbia announced they would work together to put a price on emissions from transportation fuels and invest the revenue in lower-carbon solutions, potentially including mass transit, electric buses or new charging stations to make it easier for people to own plug-in vehicles.
Some of the states involved, like Pennsylvania and Maryland, are in danger of missing their self-imposed climate goals unless they can halt the stubborn rise in driving emissions.
While the finer details of the policy will be hashed out this year, the states are modeling their efforts after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system in the Northeast that auctions a steadily dwindling supply of carbon pollution permits to power plants and uses the revenue to invest in efficiency and clean energy programs.
“Transportation is going to be even more complex than electricity — there are so many moving parts,” said Vicki Arroyo, the executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, which has been working closely with the states on the initiative. But, she said, referring to Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont, “It’s notable that we have three Republican governors here who are committed to stepping up on this.”