Portland, ME – The transportation sector is the largest source of global warming pollution in Maine. But a new report from Environment Maine Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group describes how Maine can build a zero-carbon transportation future - all while cleaning our air and creating safer, healthier communities.
Entitled Destination: Zero Carbon: Three strategies to transform transportation in America, the report looks at the factors underlying high transportation emissions, and proposes new policy solutions. Americans drive more than 10,000 miles a year on average, often in inefficient gas-burning vehicles. Poor public transit and unsafe conditions for walking or biking leave many Americans with few good low-carbon transportation options.
“Maine’s transportation system is due for a zero-carbon upgrade,” said Anya Fetcher, State Director with Environment Maine Research & Policy Center. “With clean, electric cars and buses, and safe streets for walking and biking, we can take a big bite out of America’s contribution to global warming. This report shows how it can be done.”
The report is particularly relevant right now, as Maine is one of the New England states currently considering the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a program being developed by a coalition of states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The initiative would drive the adoption of strategies outlined in the report, such as cleaner vehicles and improved public transportation. The comment period for the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which will help reduce climate pollution and build a modern, clean transportation system, will end on Feb. 28.
"The potential of the TCI is in its transformative, regional approach to meeting climate and community goals," says Kathleen Meil, director of policy and partnerships at Maine Conservation Voters. "The urgency of reducing emissions from the most polluting sector of our economy creates an opportunity to remake the way people get around. In Maine, too many of us have no choice but to rely on driving, often long distances and at great expense. The strategies outlined in Destination Zero Carbon could be funded through TCI to expand clean, affordable transportation options that make our communities safer, healthier, and more connected."
The report outlines three goals that are achievable with proven policies and existing technology. These objectives can help eliminate emissions from cars and light trucks and contribute to America’s transition to a zero-carbon transportation future. They are:
All new light-duty cars and trucks sold after 2035 should be electric vehicles (EVs).
U.S. transit agencies and school districts should replace all transit and school buses with clean electric buses by 2030.
The U.S. should at least double the number of people who travel by foot, bike or transit by 2030.
Jim Tassé, Assistant Director at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM), is especially invested in the third goal listed in the report. He says that BCM "believes that more investment in bicycle, pedestrian and transit modes will not only help the climate and environment, but will also improve community safety, livability, and economic vibrancy." Tassé is also a member of the Transportation Working Group for the Maine Climate Council, which is developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state.
"Global warming demands that we set ambitious goals to get off fossil fuels - including ones for our cars and trucks," said Gideon Weissman, Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. "Luckily, we now have the technology and the tools to meet those goals - from advanced zero-emission electric vehicles to proven policies that can help Americans drive less and live more."
Along with policy recommendations, the report also highlights state and local governments around the country already taking actions to create a more sustainable transportation system. For example, a proposed bill in the Maine State Legislature would set a goal of transitioning the public school bus fleet to 100% all-electric school buses by the year 2040.
“Maine should step up to the climate challenge and re-imagine transportation,” said Fetcher. “From Portland to Caribou, we can envision a better, carbon-free way to get around. It is a future that we must achieve if we want to make our state a healthy and clean place for future generations.”
Environment Maine Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. ‘For more information, visit www.environmentmainecenter.org.