Sierra Club Statement on Transportation and Climate Initiative Final Memorandum of Understanding

NORTHEAST– Four jurisdictions - Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, DC - have signed onto a final memorandum of understanding for the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P), a cap-and-invest program for reducing transportation emissions in the Northeast. 

Eight other states - Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Virginia - signed a statement of support and continued collaboration but did not sign the final MOU. 

The final MOU kicks off a draft model rule in 2021 for signing states; dedicates a minimum 35% to overburdened and underserved communities; would cut emissions from motor vehicles 26% by 2032; and sets up Equity Advisory Bodies in the four jurisdictions that signed to guide investments made.

Sierra Club was an early advocate for the concept of the Transportation Climate Initiative but has taken some time to re-evaluate in 2020 and is not supporting the final regional MOU due to the following considerations:

  • Solidarity with several environmental justice (EJ) partners recognizing this process fell short and did not put equity and justice at the center. 

  • The states did not conduct early or enough meaningful public outreach and consultation with communities hardest hit by transportation pollution on the design of this policy.

  • The estimated CO2 emissions reduction of 26% by 2032 is too weak.

  • There are no meaningful measures on the protections of funds and safeguards to ensure that the funds are not raided for unrelated purposes.

  • There are no guarantees that there will be emissions reductions in communities that have the most pollution burden.

If a state does adopt the final TCI MOU, Sierra Club state chapters will keep fighting alongside EJ, equity, and other partners for the implementation of the policy to be as strong as possible in regards to environmental and equity concerns.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:

“The final MOU released by states this week, and the process to get here, has fallen short in ensuring strong climate reductions, guardrails for protection of funds, and offering strong safeguards for pollution reductions in environmental justice communities. As we continue to combat the intersectional crises of climate change, systemic racism, and economic insecurity, our leaders must advance solutions that put people first. These policies must be co-created with communities hardest hit by pollution, dramatically reducing climate pollution, and investing in the communities that have borne the environmental burden of decades of neglect.  

“The Sierra Club rises in solidarity with many environmental justice leaders and groups that have long raised process and policy concerns about the Transportation and Climate Initiative. TCI still has yet to fully develop EJ or equity policies that address these concerns. 

“In states that chose to move to advance TCI, Sierra Club chapters will continue their efforts fighting for the implementation of TCI to be stronger in regards to equity and environmental provisions. We will also continue our work to advance other federal, state and local policies that reduce both climate emissions and local pollution from transportation, with equity at the center of each policy.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit