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Baker pulls Mass. out of emissions pact, citing lack of buy-in from other states

Massachusetts is pulling out of a multi-state compact to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Gov. Charlie Baker's administration on Thursday declared it "is no longer the best solution for the commonwealth's transportation and environmental needs."

Baker had long touted the Transportation Climate Initiative as the way to meet emission reduction targets in the transportation sector. But with support in other states crumbling or simply failing to materialize, his office announced Thursday that it no longer views TCI as critical.

"The Baker-Polito Administration always maintained the commonwealth would only move forward with TCI if multiple states committed, and, as that does not exist, the transportation climate initiative is no longer the best solution for the commonwealth's transportation and environmental needs," Baker press secretary Terry MacCormack said in a statement on Thursday.

"At the same time, the new federal infrastructure funding package, American Rescue Plan investments, as well as tax revenue surpluses generated by Massachusetts' strong economic recovery make the commonwealth better positioned to upgrade its roads, bridges and public transportation systems, while also making investments to reduce transportation emissions, deliver equitable transportation solutions and benefits and meet the state’s ambitious climate goals," MacCormack added.

The compact's demise represents the second recent major blow to clean energy efforts. Maine voters earlier this month rejected a transmission project that Massachusetts has been counting on to draw clean hydropower down from Canada.

Backers of TCI, which the Baker administration was leading through its environmental secretariat, envisioned a regional program capping vehicle emissions and allowing fuel suppliers to purchase allowances for carbon dioxide their products would emit, in the process generating revenue that states could use to invest in clean transportation and other programs.

The coalition that launched the initiative last winter set an initial target of reducing emissions 26% by 2032, estimating it could add 5 to 9 cents more to the price of a gallon of gas.

TCI ran into vocal opposition from groups such as the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, who argued that its impact on fuel costs would harm consumers more than backers anticipated.

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