Around New England

Baker Administration Has No Fallback If Regional Carbon-Emissions Gasoline Fee Pact Fizzles, Aide Says

January 15, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker doesn’t have an alternative plan if the Transportation Climate Initiative disintegrates amid governors backing out because of projected increases in the cost of gasoline, a Baker administration official said.

Kathleen Theoharides, the Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, deflected a question about recent announcements by the governors of Vermont and Connecticut during a legislative committee hearing Tuesday, January 14.

State Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington), co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, asked Theoharides what would happen if the coalition of 12 East Coast states from Maine to Virginia plus the District of Columbia fell apart.

“I will give you the honest answer, which is that I’m fully committed to getting TCI done and I’m not looking at Plan Bs because I still believe we can get this done,” Theoharides said, according to State House News Service.

Barrett suggested that Massachusetts try to form a pact with far-off California or other states outside the Northeast.

Theoharides said other states could join the Transportation Climate Initiative, but that the governor is not giving up on the faltering alliance.

“We are in full court press mode to make sure Plan A gets done,” Theoharides said, according to State House News Service.

The Transportation Climate Initiative calls for charging fuel providers a fee for their presumed contributions to carbon emissions. The fee is projected to end up costing drivers between 5 and 17 cents a gallon in gasoline.

Recently the governors of Vermont and Connecticut have expressed opposition to increasing the price of gasoline in their states. Maine’s governor has been noncommittal about it.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu late last year said New Hampshire won’t participate.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is the only New England governor besides Baker on record as supporting the gasoline fee.