Virginia joins coalition designing carbon-capping transportation policy

Interstate 95 winds past Main Street Station in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Nine states, including Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have signed on to a plan aimed at reducing carbon emissions from transportation and investing in a low-carbon transportation infrastructure.

The group, collaborating through the Transportation and Climate Initiative, has committed to developing a regional, low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would “cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism,” according to a joint statement.

Each jurisdiction would then invest the proceeds from that program in a new, low-carbon and more “resilient” transportation model.

The plan is to complete the proposed regional policy within a year, after which each jurisdiction will decide whether to adopt and implement it.

“Emissions from transportation account for the largest portion of the region’s carbon pollution and a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that ambitious reductions are needed within the next decade to avoid dangerous impacts to public health, infrastructure and the environment,” the joint statement reads.

More than a third of carbon pollution in Virginia comes from transportation, according to a statement Gov. Ralph Northam made in September.

“This effort will extend our collaboration from electric generation to transportation,” he said. “TCI is a forum for exchanging ideas, sharing best management practices and collaborating on initiatives to reduce transportation’s carbon footprint.”

In October, Northam announced a plan to invest $14 million in an all-electric bus fleet in Virginia.

The group’s intends to develop a plan that will not only meet carbon-reduction goals, but will also stimulate the job market, enhance the transportation system’s resiliency and improve access to transportation for underserved communities, among other goals.

“Advancing low-carbon transportation solutions presents an opportunity for our region to improve the way people and goods move from place to place while addressing the threats posed by carbon and other pollution,” the group said in its joint statement.