Even The Sierra Club Opposes The Transportation And Climate Initiative

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/03/11/even-the-sierra-club-opposes-the-transportation-and-climate-initiative/

There may be some overlapping goals, but the approach differs.

The Sierra Club is one of the most progressive environmental organizations in the country, but what do its leaders think of the Transportation and Climate Initiative that Massachusetts signed onto last December?

They don’t like it.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Washington D.C. leaders signed the Transportation and Climate Initiative memorandum of understanding on December 21, 2020.

The proposed pact would implement fees on fuel providers based on their carbon emissions. That revenue would then go towards funding public transportation. The idea is that higher fuel prices provide disincentive for consumption and therefore reduce carbon emissions, and that if more people use public transportation then fewer people will drive and that carbon emissions will therefore decrease. 

While initial estimates said the Transportation and Climate Initiative carbon fuel fee could increase the price of a gallon of gasoline and diesel by as little as 5 cents per gallon or as much as 17 cents per gallon, a report from the Beacon Hill Institute and the Fiscal Alliance Foundation projected that it would add 18 cents per gallon to the price of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon for on-the-road diesel. These increases would officially go into effect in 2023, but could start in 2022.

Even so, the Vermont-based right-leaning Yankee Institute for Public Policy recently resurfaced a press release from the Green New Deal-supporting Sierra Club from December 2020 where the organization complained about the Transportation and Climate Initiative and officially withdrew its support for it.

The organization called the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s carbon emissions reduction goal of 26 percent by 2032 “too weak” in the press release.

“Sierra Club was an early advocate for the concept of the Transportation Climate Initiative but has taken some time to re-evaluate in 2020 and is not supporting the final regional MOU,” the organization said in the press release.

Here is what The Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, said about the proposal in a written statement at the time:


The final MOU released by states this week, and the process to get here, has fallen short in ensuring strong climate reductions, guardrails for protection of funds, and offering strong safeguards for pollution reductions in environmental justice communities. As we continue to combat the intersectional crises of climate change, systemic racism, and economic insecurity, our leaders must advance solutions that put people first. These policies must be co-created with communities hardest hit by pollution, dramatically reducing climate pollution, and investing in the communities that have borne the environmental burden of decades of neglect.  

The Sierra Club rises in solidarity with many environmental justice leaders and groups that have long raised process and policy concerns about the Transportation and Climate Initiative. TCI still has yet to fully develop EJ or equity policies that address these concerns. 

In states that chose to move to advance TCI, Sierra Club chapters will continue their efforts fighting for the implementation of TCI to be stronger in regards to equity and environmental provisions. We will also continue our work to advance other federal, state and local policies that reduce both climate emissions and local pollution from transportation, with equity at the center of each policy.


Other opponents of the Transportation and Climate Initiative argue that it amounts to a regressive tax and will hurt small businesses in the region.

The press office for Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker could not be reached earlier this week.

A spokesman for the Sierra Club also could not be reached for comment earlier this week.