As you probably know, Governor Gina Raimondo is proposing that Rhode Island sign on to TCI (Transportation and Climate Initiative), a regional carbon cap-and-tax program on transportation that would involve, among other things, Rhode Islanders paying an additional tax on gas and diesel of seventeen – twenty four cents+ per gallon. A couple of Justin Katz’ excellent posts about TCI are here and here.
Let’s discuss the stated purpose of TCI. According to the governor, it is to save the planet by getting Rhode Islanders to give up their cars. This is not an exaggeration; below is what the governor says about TCI in this December interview with WPRI’s Kim Kalunian (starting at minute 03:15).
Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to drive your car to work? Wouldn’t it be great if we had better trains electric trains, more vehicles, more transit, more buses, buses that are electrified? … We need to save the planet.
Honestly, the arrogance and condescension, as Justin noted, of this is only exceeded by its delusion.
But set aside for a moment the non-feasibility of Rhode Island – or any state – giving up cars. Set aside that China, not the United States, has been the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2005 and has demonstrated no real interest in “reforming”. Set aside that the entirety of man’s fossil-fueled activity, even including bovine flatulence, only generates 6% of all greenhouse gases. And let’s stipulate for a moment that Rhode Islanders have an obligation to save the planet and that TCI would accomplish that by lowering our carbon emissions.
It isn’t necessary; we’ve already done it! A 2016 analysis by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity confirms this.
Because of its high dependence on electricity generation via natural gas production (98% of in-state generation), Rhode Island can boast a relatively low carbon footprint.
Closely related side bar: this data point also opens the door for the General Assembly to lift the mandate, with a clear conscience, for state rate-payers to purchase Deepwater Wind’s exorbitantly expensive electricity.
For now, with regard to this proposed new carbon-reducing initiative, state officials can declare victory and go home. TCI is not needed. Rhode Island has won the war on carbon.