Republicans say state’s EV plan too costly

August 17, 2023



Republican legislators say a Democratic drive to phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks in Connecticut will be cause a costly economic smashup.

Top GOP leaders Wednesday warned proposed clean car and truck standards will crush working- and middleclass family budgets, bankrupt small business and throw thousands of people out of work.

The administration of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont is moving to adopt state regulations that would gradually eliminate the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and all classes of trucks by 2042.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is scheduled to conduct administrative hearings on the two sets of proposed regulations Tuesday. DEEP Commissioner Katie S. Dykes is aiming to get the regulations approved on the state level by the end of the year.

Republican legislators urged the Lamont administration to put a hold on the proposed clean car and truck standards to allow more deliberations on the practicalities and consequences of making such a commitment to zero-emission vehicles.

“We are asking this governor and Commissioner Dykes to suspend this regulatory process and provide a plan on how we are going to implement an all-electric vehicle system in Connecticut,” said House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford.

The Lamont administration rebuffed the GOP calls Wednesday for a pause.

“We are in the midst of a climate emergency and are living the effects of climate change,” said Adam Joseph, the governor’s director of communications.

REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS charged the proposed standards are not wellthought- out and are being rushed as part of a wider Democratic political agenda before state officials have answers critical questions, including charging infrastructure, electric supplies, battery recycling and fire suppression.

“You might even want to say there is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream named after this. It’s ‘Half Baked,’” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin C. Kelly, R-Stratford.

Republican legislators objected to Connecticut following the lead of California on mandating all new car and truck sales transition to zero-emission vehicles. Special provisions in the federal Clean Air Act allow states to either follow the federal requirements or adopt California’s vehicle emission regulations.

Connecticut has opted to follow the stricter California standards, and the California Air Resources Board has enacted regulations requiring increasing percentages of new cars and trucks sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles until reaching 100% of all new car and truck sales.

If enacted, the proposed Connecticut regulations will phase out the sale of new gas powered light-duty vehicles from the 2027 model year through the 2035 model year. The regulations set a schedule for eliminating sales of categories new medium- and heavy-duty trucks from 2035 through 2042.

A TOP DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKER and the governor’s office defended the proposed clean car and truck regulations, and pushed back against the GOP criticisms and opposition expressed Wednesday.

Representatives of advocacy groups that support the proposed Connecticut regulations said in a joint statement that Republicans made false and inflammatory claims about them.

“Massachusetts and New York have already passed these more stringent California emissions regulations, and Connecticut is surrounded by other New England states that are in the midst of writing their new emissions regulations,” said Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, Senate chairwoman of the Transportation Committee and former Senate chairwoman of the Environment Committee.

Republicans acknowledged the five other New England states have adopted or are in the process of adopting the California standards.

Cohen and the governor’s office also noted that a bipartisan majority of the legislature approved a 2004 law committing Connecticut to follow California clean car standards and Republican Gov. John G. Rowland signed it. The House vote was 143-1 and the Senate vote was 36-0.

Kelly, Candelora and other Republican legislators Wednesday advocated changing Connecticut law to follow federal emission standards for all vehicles.

“It’s unfortunate today’s Republican Party, unlike their 2004 predecessors, no longer understands the importance of protecting the planet from carbon dioxide and our children’s lungs from other harmful pollutants,” Joseph said.

Kelly said the focus in 2004 was on reducing vehicle emissions and increasing fuel efficiency.

“I don’t believe at any point during those hearings they were talking about banning gas-powered cars and moving to electric vehicles,” he said.