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Hogan must act to reduce vehicle emissions | READER COMMENTARY

A bus passes by the Baltimore Metro SubwayLink at Charles Center Station. Early in the pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a reduction in public transit; with reduced ridership, the Maryland Transit Administration began implementing service reductions on all vehicle modes in March.
A bus passes by the Baltimore Metro SubwayLink at Charles Center Station. Early in the pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a reduction in public transit; with reduced ridership, the Maryland Transit Administration began implementing service reductions on all vehicle modes in March. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Sun)

In Maryland and across the Mid-Atlantic, low-wealth communities and communities of color face significantly higher exposure to unhealthy air pollution from cars, trucks and buses. The pandemic has also economically ravaged these communities, which are the source of so many of our front-line and hourly workers. If he acts quickly, Gov. Larry Hogan can jump start Maryland’s economy and reduce the pollution that overburdens our communities of color by signing on to the Transportation and Climate Initiative (”Multistate pact that includes Maryland could curb transportation carbon emissions,” Dec. 17).

The initiative is a regional collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. It would provide better, more accessible and more affordable transportation options across Maryland that will improve mobility and increase access to jobs, education, health care and other opportunities. By design, TCI would also prioritize investments in environmental justice, low-wealth and other at-risk communities. Working directly with residents of communities that have historically borne a disproportionate amount of transportation pollution and its associated health impacts, we can correct these injustices.

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A recent study by Harvard researchers linked long term exposure to pollution to higher rates of COVID-19 incidence and morbidity. And tailpipe pollution is the biggest source of carbon emissions in Maryland and a major source of pollutants that cause asthma attacks, premature death and other health harms. The initiative would cut these harmful emissions, and it will also provide Governor Hogan with an opportunity to show leadership and work with other states to build better, more accessible and more affordable transportation options across Maryland.

Most importantly, by showing his support for this forward-looking initiative, Governor Hogan can position Maryland as a regional leader while not only protecting our communities of color, but also increasing access to jobs, education and health care throughout Maryland.

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Samuel Jordan, Baltimore

The writer is co-founder and president of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition.

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