Northeast fights air pollution regionally


From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in

Louis Brandeis, the late Supreme Court justice, famously called states "laboratories of democracy," describing how a "state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

We now have a new and happy example of this in an agreement by Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and the District of Columbia to impose regionwide limits on transportation emissions, which are America’s largest source of carbon pollution. New York and Maine are expected to soon join the compact. It’s unclear if New Hampshire will.

Under the plan, the states would have a year in which to create a system to cap total emissions, a system that would include requiring gasoline and diesel distributors to buy pollution permits for some of the carbon they’re partly responsible for putting into the air. The money would be used for such “greener’’ transportation projects as public transit, subsidies to speed the use of electric vehicles, carpooling and new bike lanes. Besides the environmental elements, the program would make the participating states more economically competitive over the long run: Rapidly growing tech companies and their employees want nearby public transit and other ways of avoiding dependence on cars. That’s one reason that Amazon and Google are expanding so much in very expensive and crowded New York City.

That much of the region to be covered by the pact is heavily urbanized makes such projects seem particularly apt. Also, New England would probably benefit the most environmentally from this plan since the prevailing wind is southwest


With the Trump regime, dominated by such fossil-fuel interests as the Koch Brothers, the states have to step in to address pollution and global warming, as California, under outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown, has been doing for some years. Given the Golden State’s size and economic clout, this tends to force the rest of America to eventually take similar actions