TCI’s foes fought to show climate initiative’s cracks
While I appreciate Timmons Roberts’s recognition of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance’s leadership in the defeat of the TCI gas tax scheme, MassFiscal cannot take all the credit for the surrender of the Transportation Climate Initiative (“Who killed the TCI?” Opinion, Dec. 8). We owe much to the public for holding the scheme, and the officials who were promoting it, accountable.
David Ismay, then the Baker administration’s undersecretary for climate change, told a group of advocates in January that in order to lower emissions, the state needed to “turn the screws on” ordinary people and “break their will” to force changes in their consumption of heating fuels and gasoline. Ismay described the ordinary people as the “person across the street” and the “senior on fixed income” and closed his statement by noting, “I can’t even say that publicly.”
Within days after we posted a clip of the video exchange, Ismay resigned. However, the public didn’t need his comments in order to understand the harmful realities of the scheme. TCI admitted that the program would generate only a 1 to 6 percent reduction in emissions, while keeping up with current trends would reduce them by at least 19 percent over the next 10 years. This was in exchange for giving an out-of-state, unaccountable third party control of how much we pay for gas.
The public was quick to conclude that both the people in charge of TCI and the initiative’s advocates were playing fast and loose with the realities of the scheme. In order for TCI to achieve its reductions, it had to artificially restrict the supply of fuel, which is what Ismay so clearly laid out in his panel discussion with the Vermont Climate Council.
MassFiscal worked diligently to ensure that the public was educated and that their elected officials were held accountable, and by the end we formed a robust coalition of opponents to TCI. Our organization is stronger for the effort, and so is the Commonwealth. Ultimately, it’s the everyday citizens of Massachusetts and the rest of New England who benefited the most from our persistent advocacy to see the program end, and from our never settling for anything less than its surrender.
Paul Diego Craney
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance
Voices opposing TCI resonated with the average person
The op-ed “Who Killed the TCI?” misses the point. All environmental policies and issues take place in a social context. In the United States, that context is rising inequality, with the 1 percent gaining greater wealth and income every year while the bulk of the rest of the population works hard to keep their heads above water.
The 99 percent want new taxes to be placed on the country’s millionaires and billionaires. This is why the voices opposing the TCI were so resonant with the average person.
In contrast, the Massachusetts Fair Share Amendment, which would tax millionaires for education and the environment, is supported by more than two-thirds of the public.
Monte L. Pearson
With demise of TCI and defeat of Maine power project, we need to get busy on the solutions in reach
Re “After setbacks, state’s emissions plan unclear” (Page A1, Dec. 8): We should all regret the demise of the TCI to reduce fossil fuel use in our regional transportation systems. Likewise, with Maine’s exclusion of transmission lines from Quebecois hydropower, we lose an easy route to low-carbon electricity, though we also avoid an injustice to the peoples of the First Nations.
But rather than suffer this “one-two punch” in stoic silence, let’s get busy. We have a million homes to retrofit with electric heating systems and efficiency upgrades. We have enormous offshore wind potential, and we have untapped solar capabilities that the Legislature could empower in underserved neighborhoods. We need to accelerate our conversion to cleaner electric vehicles, and we have the resources to make them widely affordable. More federal infrastructure money is on its way.
What we need is political will. With the dire forecasts of the Glasgow conference in our ears and infrastructure funds ready to be deployed, we stand at a historic crossroads. Just this year our legislators approved a comprehensive roadmap for sustainability. Now the governor and the Legislature must advance briskly down that road.
We can see a vast field of opportunity in solar
To get an idea about how the state can begin to compensate for the defeat of TCI and Maine voters’ rejection of the transmission corridor from Quebec, just open Google Maps in satellite view and look at the rooftops in any part of Greater Boston.
You won’t see too many solar panels. Although Massachusetts has the fifth-best rate of solar installations per capita, the visual evidence says we can still do a lot better.
Rooftop solar is not a panacea, but there are vast numbers of roofs, on both commercial and residential buildings, simply soaking up rays while they could be generating power.