The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Support for New York Committing to the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) Program
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We, the undersigned elected officials from across New York State, are concerned about the health, prosperity, and resiliency of the millions of New Yorkers we represent in the midst of the global pandemic, economic crisis, and climate emergency. We support your administration’s leadership with the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) to invest in a cleaner, more accessible, and more affordable transportation sector for all New Yorkers.
Thank you for your leadership in protecting public health during the pandemic and in implementing the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Building on your leadership, to meet New York’s ambitious climate goals, we must make substantial investments across New York to modernize our transportation infrastructure and reduce harmful pollution that is worsening our public health and climate emergencies.
The transportation sector is responsible for more than 40 percent of New York’s greenhouse gas pollution that is harming human health and driving the climate emergency. Pollution from cars and trucks causes asthma, premature deaths, heart and lung disease, and increased mortality rates from COVID-19, especially in overburdened communities.
The TCI policy will help New York cut carbon pollution by generating up to $1.4 billion per year to invest in our communities across the entire state and create cleaner, more efficient, and safer transportation options for New Yorkers in rural, suburban, and urban areas. TCI will create good, family-sustaining green jobs, accelerate our state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and fight existing inequities by investing a substantial amount of these proceeds in underserved and disadvantaged communities as required by the CLCPA.
By requiring the oil industry to cut and pay for the pollution it causes, TCI will generate the resources needed to help tackle New York’s biggest and most persistently growing pollution problem—the tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles. TCI revenues will help New York fund transportation initiatives being developed under the scoping plan of the CLCPA, such as improving public transit, enhancing walkability and bikeability, adding charging stations, and electrifying bus fleets and other vehicles.
Targeted green infrastructure investments and workforce development are key strategies in economic recovery from the pandemic. Public works spending has historically been a key strategy to reverse economic downturns, and these critical transportation initiatives will require an expanded workforce across the state. We must prioritize workforce development in low-income and environmental justice communities.
The TCI policy will also help New York expand local-state partnerships for clean transportation, unlocking new economic opportunities when we need them most. Providing funding for sustainable transportation infrastructure investments to communities can help local governments that are struggling fiscally as a result of the pandemic and would otherwise be unable to make the green investments needed to meet our CLCPA goals.
TCI will help create a more equitable and just state by helping to address environmental injustice pollution burdens faced by communities of color and low-income communities and address barriers to reliable, convenient, and affordable transportation faced by people with disabilities, veterans, older residents, rural residents, and other vulnerable populations, which too often impede access to healthcare, social services, and jobs.
Environmental justice and social equity must be central principles for any transportation climate initiative to succeed. To help New Yorkers recover from the economic crisis, the TCI program's benefits and costs must be progressive, not regressive, and must reduce energy burdens for low-income households. It will be critical to prioritize funding to disadvantaged communities and solutions that enhance transportation accessibility and affordability. We urge you to support complementary policies to ensure transparency in funding generation, allocation, and distribution and ensure a minimum of 35 to 40 percent or more of investments are committed to lower-income communities and communities overburdened with pollution.
We urge you to sign a regional TCI Memorandum of Understanding by the end of 2020 that addresses environmental justice and equity, cuts greenhouse gas emissions, creates good jobs and economic growth, and commits New York to implement this important program.
Thank you for considering this bold step forward. We stand ready to work with you to build a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous New York for all.