TCI: Taxing the Poor to Profit the Wealthy

TCI: Taxing the Poor to Benefit the Rich

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New Jersey environmental justice attorney Maria Lopez-Nunez, bottom left, speaks to organizers of the transportation and climate protection initiative on September 29. Hear them here.

Published on November 20, 2020

From Steve Haner

"I think TCI only taxes poor people so we can subsidize rich people's electric cars."

So said Maria Lopez-Nuñez of New Jersey, deputy director of organization and advocacy for the Ironbound Community Corporation. She spoke during an online seminar on September 29th organized by proponents of the Transport and Climate Initiative.

That particular comment can be heard in this recording at around 3:10 a.m.

her speech. The full meeting is recorded here and your remarks begin in approximately 1 hour and 43 minutes. Listen to her entire speech if you can. Listen to the following and you will learn that she was not alone.

Lopez-Nunez is absolutely correct that TCI is imposing a large and very regressive tax in order to reduce CO2 emissions slightly, and that moving people in electric cars merely moves the source of CO2 emissions from the roads to the power plants.

Run TCI's projected CO2 emissions savings through the climate models at the heart of this entire global debate and the result is infinitesimal changes in feared future temperature increases. Selling this as saving the planet is not credible, so an attempt is being made to find a new rationale. Efforts to achieve this "environmental justice" by targeting taxpayers' money are not well received.

Earlier this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that he and other governors are rethinking this new fuel tax and cap system in the midst of a deep recession. The dissatisfaction emanating from the TCI recruiting crowd with low income, racial and environmental justice could also weigh on their minds.

This is a typical used price. A subsidized use of the TCI carbon tax, which is drawn from all gas or diesel purchases, would be subsidies for electric cars.

Our Governor Ralph Northam said nothing about his plans in Virginia or whether he was one of those discussed by Baker. The Virginia media doesn't ask. Despite the short time before the meeting, the actual Memorandum of Understanding is still kept secret.

Lopez-Nunez's comments during the meeting were followed by a formal call from her organization for New Jersey to decline membership of the 12-state pact with its carbon tax on gasoline. Their group's denunciation was joined by Clean Water Action New Jersey and the NJ Environmental Justice Alliance.

Your complaints will be set out in a press release. You specify TCI:

  • Can't prescribe pollution reduction. TCI's reliance on direct and indirect trading is likely to have a disproportionate impact on the EJ communities. The designation of TCI as “Cap and Invest” and not as “Cap and Trade” does not change this.
  • The proceeds will not be put in a locker. There is no guarantee that the funds raised will benefit climate protection initiatives and EJ communities. It is almost certain that history will repeat itself no matter who is in office. Billions of dollars in "dedicated" funds have been searched for unintended purposes from NJ programs like NJ Transit, Clean Energy, Lead Mitigation, and more.
  • The commitment to “transparency” and “justice” sounds hollow and has not created a meaningful decision role for EJ votes in the past.
  • Imposing a regressive charging structure for gas taxes, not a real polluter mechanism. Despite the recent hike in gas taxes and tolls, the cost is being passed on to those who can least afford a tax hike or an electric car, rather than making businesses pay for their pollution and contribution to climate change.
  • There are better solutions. The federal and state regulatory and financial authorities are already substantial and more effective.

"TCI has so far been deaf at best and racist at worst," Lopez-Nunez is quoted in the press release. “The world is on fire and we need bold, visionary solutions that focus on those most directly affected in order to build a just society. We will not settle for half measures that sustain decades of poor political development like TCI. "

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly will be asked to approve Virginia's membership of TCI. It should be done in the legislation, but chances are the Northam administration is trying to sneak it through using household language. The basic functions of the compact have already been explained and will also be in the future. However, many details are still contained in this missing letter of intent. Will we see it before or after the legislature is asked to vote?

The first carbon tax imposed on the Virgins, which is part of a similar intergovernmental pact known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, will add about 2% to electricity bills starting next summer. Early information from TCI mentioned that the carbon allowance will increase the price of gasoline by about 17 cents per gallon (about 8% more), but its own internal documents suggest the cost will be more than 20 cents per gallon for the first year and to 20 cents per gallon, more than 30 cents per gallon by 2032. A review requested by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy predicted 33 cents per gallon.

The proposed 25 percent reduction in fossil fuel CO2 emissions will not come from the tax, but from a limit on gasoline and diesel sales in the Maine region of Virginia. The number of allowances available below the cap for fuel wholesalers will slowly shrink. With an ongoing market switch to electric or hybrid vehicles, a large part of the goal will be achieved without this regime.

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