Experts from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) unveiled a new report that aims to fix the transportation systems in Massachusetts and New England that currently contribute to climate change pollution, ill health effects, stress, lost work hours and economic activity, and other serious problems.
The report, Transportation Reimagined, explores what fixes would make the most sense for the states, based on strategies already piloted around the country. Options include promoting more electric vehicles, encouraging more walkable and bikeable living areas, public transit upgrades; and addressing rural and low-income communities that are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to their transportation needs.
Health Care Without Harm’s Bill Ravanesi spoke to reporters about the health benefits of the report’s proposals:
“The atmospheric, financial, and medical evidence is irrefutable: When we eliminate the air pollution from fossil fuels associated with tailpipe emissions, we greatly reduce some of our most expensive and tragic health care challenges: premature death, neurological disorders, chronic bronchitis, asthma, cardiovascular and their associated emergency room visits, and much more, while protecting brain and lung development in the very young and improving life expectancy.”
Ravanesi explained the difference more electric vehicles on the road would make for the health of New Englanders.
“The emissions from conventional vehicles are responsible for premature mortality and numerous respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” he said. “Cleaner vehicles mean cleaner air and healthier people.”
In 2017, a bipartisan coalition of governors in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the mayor of Washington, D.C., agreed to develop a plan to revamp the region’s interconnected transportation system and tackle these problems. NRDC’s report offers solutions that could guide the regional collaboration.
“Transportation is not simply a matter of moving people around,” said Ravanesi. “The health benefits of enhanced transportation infrastructure should be top of mind as we turn ideas into reality in the coming years.”