Traffic is seen on Storrow Drive in Boston in this file photo. State House News Service photo

Though only Massachusetts and three of the 13 state and city governments that had been part of discussions around creating a regional effort to staunch vehicle emissions along the East Coast agreed Monday to be part of the program from the get-go, Gov. Charlie Baker said it is “a pretty good place to start.”

Twelve states and Washington, D.C. began the process more than two years ago of developing a regional “cap-and-invest” program to reduce carbon pollution from cars and trucks and generate the resources needed to expand clean transit options and improve public health. On Monday, the leaders of four jurisdictions – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. – signed on to be the program’s initial members.

The program, backed by a broad coalition of advocates and business groups, would set a limit on vehicle emissions, and hold auctions for fuel suppliers that transport gasoline into Massachusetts and other states to purchase allowances for every ton of carbon dioxide that the fuel they are carrying would emit when burned.

“It’s my hope that over the course of the next couple of years you’ll see additional people come aboard, but you got to start somewhere,” Baker said Monday afternoon. “The price of doing nothing is very big. … If you think about the amount of money that the federal government, state government and local governments spend these days on weather events – far more significant weather events than anything anybody used to see on a very regular basis.”

The coalition settled on a carbon emission reduction target of 26 percent by 2032, which could add an estimated 5 to 9 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, according to officials involved in the effort. The program is expected to generate annual proceeds for the participating governments that could exceed $366 million by 2032. That money would be reinvested into low-carbon transportation initiatives, clean energy and public health improvements.

Among the other groups that welcomed the news Monday were Our Transportation Future, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Mass. Taxpayers Foundation, Massachusetts Business Roundtable, commercial real estate trade group NAIOP Massachusetts, Ceres, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Alliance for Business Leadership, MassPIRG, the 495/MetroWest Partnership, and more.

“NAIOP Massachusetts, The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, recognizes that all sectors of the economy need to work together to reduce carbon emissions. TCI is an innovative tool that will have a measurable impact on the Commonwealth’s goal of net zero by 2050, while also creating a new mechanism for funding transportation infrastructure improvements, which are critical to our economic recovery and climate future,” Tamara Small, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Baker-Polito administration as well as a broad coalition of business and environmental groups as this advances.”

NAIOP Supports New, Multi-State Car Emissions Pact

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min