ALBANY, N.Y. – Albany was the scene of the first in a series of public listening sessions to develop a multi-state plan for clean transportation.
Transportation now is the leading source of greenhouse-gas emissions in the Northeast, accounting for about 40 percent of all carbon pollution. Last November, seven northeastern and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia pledged to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. Bruce Ho, senior advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the regional listening sessions are an important step in that process.
“They’re asking for input on how we can modernize the system in order to address climate change,” he said, “but also a host of other issues, including economic growth and ensuring that transportation is affordable and accessible to people throughout the region.”
Participating states include Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. The next regional listening session will take place on May 21 in Hartford, Connecticut. People at the sessions consider multiple ways to cut down on the climate impact of the transport system. Ho said that could mean improving public transportation, or switching to electric vehicles.
“That’s both personal cars but also things like electric buses and electric trucks,” he said, “so that we can continue to achieve all of the transportation options that we need, but can do so in a way that is cleaner.”
Ho said cutting carbon emissions from transportation is critical to meeting state and regional greenhouse-gas reduction goals. But taking on the transportation system is more than an environmental initiative. Ho said transportation is underfunded, and finding clean alternatives should spur economic development and create jobs.
“If we create a more efficient system that allows people to get where they need quicker and cleaner,” he said, “it really is a huge potential economic advantage for this region.”
Studies estimate a regional Clean Transportation Initiative could cut pollution by 40 percent, create more than 100,000 jobs and save consumers $14 billion by 2030.