At the State House
No hearings have been scheduled for this week. The staff at the State House is reportedly returning to the building this week.
Today is Primary Day in Rhode Island! If you have not voted yet, please take the time to visit your polling place today.
RI Mobility Innovation Working Group
The EC4 Committee established a working group to develop ideas of how to decarbonize the transportation sector in the State of Rhode Island. This group held a two-hour zoom meeting last week. Dan Sperling, from the Institute of Transportation Studies in California led the meeting with a presentation which can be summed up in his vision of “Heaven” and “Hell.” Heaven would have 100% electric vehicle use, a clean energy mix for transportation, public transit, shared intelligent vehicles and better livability for people. Hell would have increased congestion, electricity produced with coal, increased travel demand, a more car dependent society, and a decreased role for mass transit. Sperling reported that California is about to adopt legislation requiring Uber/Lyft vehicles to be electric only and to provide more pooling services.
The second presentation came from Dream Corp – Green For All, a Rhode Island organization that looks at demographic information and how it relates to green energy. According to Green For All, people of color have longer commute times and they tend to own no vehicles; and that dynamic is coupled with a lack of diversity and good jobs in the clean transportation workforce. The organization states that 8% of white families do not own a vehicle, 18% of families of color do not own a vehicle and 20% of Latino families do not own vehicles. Green For All believes that “Equality” is achieved when everyone gets something; “Equity” is achieved when everyone gets what they need. The organization is pushing Rhode Island to achieve Equity.
Terry Gray, Deputy Director for Environmental Protection (DEM), provided an update on TCI – the cap and trade program for gasoline, diesel and heating oil. Due to COVID-19, the timetable has changed slightly. The Governors of 12-13 states hope to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) late fall, followed by the adoption of a model rule for how the states would implement the program - including how to track compliance and run the auctions for credits. The participating states hope to have the program details worked out in 2021, and to hold the first auction in 2022. The TCI program is expected to raise millions of dollars from the fuel position holders (owners of fuel at the distribution point in each state), which in turn would raise the price of fuel and act as an incentive for individuals and businesses to switch to renewable fuel sources for transportation and heating purposes.
The meeting ended with the statement that “Rhode Island is positioned to be a leader in transportation transformation.”