Kelly, Formica: Lamont plan takes your green dollars, doesn’t produce green environment

May 3, 2021

Connecticut Republicans strongly support clean air and pro-transportation investment policies. But we also must protect working- and middle-class families.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposals — including joining the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) and a new truck tax — will increase the price of gas, groceries and home heating oil, adding new regressive burdens onto Connecticut residents at the absolute worst possible time. And they will not improve our aging transportation infrastructure or air quality.

The TCI-P is designed to raise the price of gas so that people can no longer afford to buy and operate gasoline and diesel vehicles and are forced into more expensive electric vehicles. The governor has called this a “small” tax increase, but it’s a money grab totaling $100 million annually – paid for by the working and middle class.

The program is being pushed by the same legislators who are pushing a bill backed by Tesla executives.

The reality is most people are not financially able to buy a Tesla right now. They are not even thinking about buying a new car. They are thinking about how to put food on the table, get back to work, and pay their bills.

A new gas tax is only going to make living in Connecticut more unaffordable.

People will be paying more at the pump and at the grocery store as higher truck expenses increase the cost of all products shipped throughout our state. At a time when food prices are already increasing and long lines for free food persist a year into the pandemic, why do Democrats want to put basic necessities further out of reach?

The TCI-P makes living in Connecticut more expensive, with little improvement in greenhouse gas pollution.

The Day in its recent editorial cited the Sierra Club’s endorsement of the TCI-P as a reason to support it. But the Sierra Club, once an early supporter, has since withdrawn its endorsement, because the TCI-P does not deliver on its promises.

Global jet streams blow air from west to east. Therefore, air quality in Connecticut is largely determined by pollutants in states to our west. States to our west, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, are not joining the TCI-P. The attorney general says Connecticut sits at the “end of the tailpipe of the nation’s exhaust fumes” and the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has estimated that 80%-90% of ozone levels are the result of pollution that originates in areas outside of our state. If Connecticut is in fact able to reduce carbon emissions by taxing gasoline, the only benefit will be to the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition, Connecticut is already projected to decrease emissions without the TCI-P, at a rate nearly identical to TCI-P projections.

And as the governor makes new promises to cap the gas tax increase to 5 cents in the first year, Connecticut moves even further away from the 26% emissions reduction he has promised.

A report from Tufts University estimates that a 25% emissions reduction could be reached with a gas tax increase of 32-38 cents per gallon. While fewer states have joined the program since the report, the author has said the concept remains the same. You cannot have a reduced tax increase and still see the projected significant emissions reductions. In his words, these are connected, you can’t have one without the other.

In addition, state officials pushing for the TCI-P wrote the bill to stop the funds from going into the state’s Special Transportation Fund — our transportation lockbox. The solvency of the STF still remains a significant issue and the historic lockbox is circumvented again.

The TCI-P asks residents to sacrifice much for little gain.

Connecticut Republicans believe there is a better way to protect our environment and achieve cleaner air without asking Connecticut residents to make painful sacrifices when they can least afford it.

We can prioritize transportation construction projects that will reduce emissions by opening traffic and congestion bottlenecks, such as reducing congestion along Interstate 95; invest in greenways and more open space properties; encourage and incentivize energy efficiency through rebates, credits and changes to building codes; and incentivize clean energy-efficiency opportunity in industrial and manufacturing operations.

Our federal delegation must also push for federal reforms – something we asked them to do and to date received no response.

The governor’s proposal is a money grab, plain and simple, being sold under a false promise of clean air.

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