Using New York Law to Advance Equity in the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program

By Michael B. Gerrard, Ama Ruth Francis, and Hillary Aidun

Reducing pollution from the transportation sector is one of the most important steps to sustaining a livable climate. The transportation sector is the leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in both the United States and New York. Cars, trucks and buses also emit other harmful air pollutants that more immediately contribute to public health threats such as asthma, heart disease, and premature death.

These negative impacts are concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color, which are often located near highways, transportation depots, and freight hubs. In addition to being disproportionately exposed to air pollution and affected by related health problems, these communities often have inadequate access to public transportation options, which limits access to health care, services, and jobs.

In response to these climate and equity challenges, the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) seeks to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector while investing in communities that are overburdened by transportation pollution and underserved by transit. A regional collaboration that so far includes 13 states and the District of Columbia, the initiative seeks to reduce GHGs through a cap-and-invest model that taxes fuel providers and reinvests the proceeds in clean transportation. In December 2020, four jurisdictions — Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia — signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to the TCI Program (TCI-P). Several others, including New York State, are considering joining the program.

This report examines how New York law could further advance equity in TCI-P implementation, if New York joins the TCI-P. After providing further background on TCI-P, the report focuses on two recently enacted statutes, and another that has been proposed in the New York Legislature.

Read the report Using New York Law to Advance Equity in the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program in Columbia Law School's Scholarship Archive.