Tackling Transportation Pollution
Pollution from transportation impacts all of us and the climate we live in. I’m fortunate to live less than three miles from work. In an effort to reduce my own impact, several times a week I hop on my bike and share a lane with the traffic heading in and out of Hartford. What I’ve found is that it can sometimes be treacherous, and it can be unhealthy when a plume of black smoke presents itself for my breathing displeasure.
My short bike commute highlights the issues with our current transportation system. Our current system is highly inequitable. It favors single-occupancy cars with wider highways and car-centric roads. It produces a lot of pollution. The options for residents without a car can be dangerous and unhealthy in the case of walking and biking, or inadequate in the case of bus and rail transit.
On a statewide scale, nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Fine particulate pollution coming from buses, trucks, and cars make it hard for people to breathe and exacerbate asthma and respiratory illness. Greenhouse gases from our vehicles are contributing to our worsening climate.
That’s why it is crucial that we tackle transportation emissions in our daily lives and with a strong clean transportation policy that simultaneously tackles transportation pollution and the inequity in our current investment in transportation.
The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is emerging as a strong clean transportation policy that Connecticut can employ to reduce pollution. TCI is a multi-state, regional cap-and-invest program currently under development. A framework for the program was released in October, and Sierra Club Connecticut is working to ensure this policy helps Connecticut reduce pollution by changing the transportation investment paradigm. We collaborated with numerous other organizations to provide comments on the draft.
You can learn more about TCI and other transportation issues at the 2nd annual 2019 Multimodal and Transit Summit on November 25 in New Haven. This event is sponsored by Transport Hartford.
Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.