Just days after Gov. Ned Lamont indicated he would not pursue legislative approval for the Transportation and Climate Initiative in Connecticut, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has walked away from the multi-state emissions agreement.
“The Baker-Polito Administration always maintained the Commonwealth would only move forward with TCI if multiple states committed, and, as that does not exist, the transportation climate initiative is no longer the best solution for the Commonwealth’s transportation and environmental needs,” Baker’s press secretary, Terry MacCormack, said in a statement this week.
Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, along with the city of Washington D.C were committed to be the first jurisdictions to enact the cap-and-trade program designed to curb emissions by requiring fuel sellers to buy allowances for pollution resulting from vehicle exhaust.
The Lamont administration lobbied the state legislature for approval this year but lawmakers never raised the initiative for a vote and this week, as gas prices climbed around the country, the governor said he would not push for the ratification of a program expected to raise gas prices.
“Look, I couldn’t get that through when gas prices were at a historic low,” Lamont told reporters Tuesday. “So I think the legislature’s been pretty clear. That’s going to be a tough rock to push when gas prices are so high, so no.”
The initiative has been staunchly opposed this year by Republicans and fuel sellers. But the governor’s comment provoked criticism from some environmental advocates who support the TCI program. Charles Rothenberger, a lawyer with the group Save the Sound, released a statement calling the remarks “short-sighted and irresponsible.”
On Thursday Lamont clarified he would still sign off on the proposal if lawmakers were to pass it, according to the Hartford Courant.
Asked for comment after news of Baker’s decision to leave the compact, Max Reiss, a spokesperson for Lamont said simply, “the governor will continue the critical investments needed to fight climate change and provide clean and affordable transportation options.”
While Baker could have implemented the initiative in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, like Connecticut, required the legislature’s blessing to enact TCI and the program has also stalled there.
According to a Wednesday story in the Providence Journal, legislative leaders in Rhode Island said Lamont’s comments would likely factor into an expected debate there on the initiative next year. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee’s office did not comment for that story.