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The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI): Everything You Need to Know, Part I: What Is the TCI?

On December 17, 2019, thirteen jurisdictions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States officially issued an ambitious plan to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions and investing in sustainable transportation infrastructure. The plan, entitled the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), which has taken nearly a year to be drafted, is the first inter-state initiative of its kind and, if implemented, would drastically change the face of transportation along the East Coast.

In this first installment of a four-part series on the TCI, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the initiative and explain its aims. Subsequent installments will cover the initiative’s structure, the plan for Massachusetts, and potential challenges to implementation.

Since 2010, the jurisdictions involved in the TCI have worked together to improve transportation, develop a clean energy economy, and reduce emissions from transportation. In a press release issued in December 2018, nine states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia) as well as the District of Columbia joined together in order to develop a regional policy aimed at capping and reducing carbon emissions from vehicles through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism. In addition to the official TCI participants, the coalition includes three additional members (Maine, New Hampshire, and New York) which have yet to officially sign on to the commitment made in 2018.

The result of this collaboration is the recently released draft of the TCI, which provides the first clear parameters of what motorists along the East Coast from Maine to Virginia should expect as a result of the initiative. The draft illustrates a regional program that would cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and invest the proceeds in cleaner, more resilient, and more equitable low-carbon transportation systems. In simple terms, the TCI focuses on limiting carbon emissions from fuel by making it more expensive to drive, generating new revenue to be re-invested in clean alternatives.

The TCI’s goals are twofold: reduction of emissions and the creation of sustainable transportation infrastructure. The initiative aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 20-25% across the region over the course of ten years. At the same time, the TCI aims to deliver new, sustainable transportation systems, particularly in areas underserved by current transportation options and disproportionately burdened by pollution.

In terms of the implementation of what is currently a draft framework, each signatory will decide whether to adopt and implement the proposed policy following a period of commentary and suggested changes to the draft. Each state must determine its own plan for implementation. Adoption of the initiative on a regional level will depend on each state, of which some may ultimately decide to opt out.

In Part II of this series, we will discuss the structure of the TCI as proposed and what its implementation would look like for those affected.

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Member / Chair, Energy & Sustainability Practice
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Tom Burton’s zeal for innovation and passion for energy and sustainability have shaped the clean energy industry. He created one of the nation’s first clean energy legal practices. Clients ranging from investors to entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies rely on him for creative and strategic legal solutions, and he has completed hundreds of venture capital and private equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, and IPOs. He guides the industry’s next generation of leaders through active involvement with start-up organizations and accelerators. The Northeast Clean Energy Council recognized...

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Sahir Surmeli Energy & Sustainability Attorney Mintz Levin
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Sa is a highly skilled and versatile business counselor who advises companies, boards, entrepreneurs, investment banks and venture and private equity investors, as they build and grow companies. He handles public offerings, 144A and private financings, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships. Sa guides public and private companies and investors, primarily in the energy and sustainability, technology, materials science, hospitality, retail and life sciences industries. Known as a problem-solver, Sa executes transactions with creative structures to address new opportunities in finance and development of new markets by clients in partnership with global corporations. He also helps entrepreneurs secure financing, commercial agreements and partnerships.

Sahir represents emerging growth and established energy technology, information technology, life sciences and retail companies, investors and investment banks in public offerings, 144A offerings and other private financings, mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic partnerships. Sa is listed among the Top 100 Cleantech & Renewables Lawyers by Euromoney’s LMG Cleantech & Renewable Energy. He was also named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Sa is a senior member of the firm’s Securities Practice Group and Technology Practice Group and serves as Co-chair of the firm's Energy & Sustainability Practice. The firm’s Energy & Sustainability Practice has completed more than 500 transactions across energy sectors totaling over $8.5 billion since 2006. Serving more than 250 clients, spanning the ecosystem from emerging companies to large corporations, venture capital and private equity funds, investment banks, project developers, and family offices, the firm is recognized nationally as a leading law firm in the space.

Sa has worked on a wide variety of capital-raising projects, including equity, debt, syndicated loan, strategic investment and structured finance offerings, with aggregate proceeds of more than $10.6 billion. He has extensive experience in corporate finance and securities law as well as mergers and acquisitions. Sa represents issuers, underwriters, initial purchasers, and placement agents in public and private equity offerings, debt offerings (particularly high-yield, but also investment grade), bank financings, leveraged buyouts, securitizations, and related transactions as well as private equity funds in leveraged buyouts. He is also a key contributor to MintzEdge, an online resource for entrepreneurs that includes useful tools and information for starting and growing a company.

Sa has an MBA in corporate finance and focuses on adding value in complex financing structures and helping younger companies navigate the challenges of the public and private markets. He handles projects in a broad range of sectors, including energy and clean technology, information technology, telecommunications, materials technology, biotech, aerospace, semiconductor, retail and hospitality. He also has extensive international experience — he previously practiced in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong and now works from the Boston office of Mintz. He has represented clients in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

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