Face the Facts: A look at the state’s plan to start phasing out gas-powered cars | NBC CT

November 5, 2023

From NBC Connecticut:


Sen. Jeff Gordon (R-Woodstock) talks about Republicans’ concerns about the state’s plan to start phasing out gas-powered vehicles.


Now, reducing our carbon footprint and combating climate change are the goals. But how we get there is still being debated, and lawmakers from both sides are now worried about that timeline of 2035.


NBC Connecticut’s Mike Hydeck spoke with Senator Jeff Gordon, a Republican from Woodstock who is on the Public Health and Safety committees.


Mike Hydeck: So I’d like to start big picture and then drill down to some of the details. Overall, what’s your take on that proposed mandate for those car sales to be electric by 2035?


Jeff Gordon: I have huge concerns about this mandate. It’s basically a mandate, a ban with no plan. I’m not opposed to seeing what we can do to help with environmental concerns and to support the EV market. But realistically, to have this mandate in only 11 years with no infrastructure, no way to pay for it, no idea how the public is going to be able to access and use any of this stuff, let alone taking away individual choices for what vehicle people can afford, and can realistically look to buy. There’s a lot of ifs that do not make sense. And I think we need to slow the process down and really think it through and get the public and all stakeholders involved to make informed decisions that work for Connecticut, not for whatever they’re doing in California.


Mike Hydeck: So I understand that we would be parroting all California’s emissions regulations. There was $50 million in federal money announced this week that will help build the charger network out in the state of Connecticut. That’s a start of getting the infrastructure done. Is that enough? Do you think that’ll get a foothold on that? Or do you think it needs to be much more?


Jeff Gordon: Oh, I think we’re talking in the billions. If you look at what is being predicted by ISO New England, who manages the grid for us here in Connecticut, that type of infrastructure outlay, the transmission lines, trying to find new sources of energy, and then take a look at what other states are predicting, for example, in California, it’s multiple, multiple billions of dollars that they’re looking at. So here in Connecticut, it’s going to be very, very expensive. Where’s that money coming from? And my concern, the concerns of people in Connecticut and businesses is, they’re going to have to foot the bill, they won’t be able to afford it.


Mike Hydeck: So what about the other part of this that I keep hearing from lawmakers on both sides, is about the transition to go from where we are now to getting to 100% electric, or however much percent we want. Should there be other things involved between now and then? Should nuclear be included? Should hydro be included? Should other forms? You remember, we had a big push for hydrogen-generated cars. Where did that go? Should all that be factored in? Or should we be in one lane?


Jeff Gordon: We shouldn’t be in one lane at all. Look what’s happening with natural gas in this state, where more and more there was a push for that. And now we’re locked into what happens with that market and the cost of it, and the cost of generating electricity in a high cost state to do business and to live and raise families. We should be looking at all options, understanding that there’s limits to what these options can do in the short term. But we should be looking at nuclear and many other options and what also exists in other states or even with hydropower in Canada. But that gets back to a point I’ve been making with my constituents is, how do you pay for, how do you build all of that infrastructure to bring all of that power into Connecticut, distribute it everywhere in Connecticut so people in businesses can access it 24/7 when they need it reliably, safely and in a way that we know that grid can support it?


Mike Hydeck: And with that kind of financial outlay to build that, how would the cost not be passed onto customers? Okay, next proposal before I go too far on that. The governor said that he believes the state will develop programs for people who can’t afford an electric vehicle right away to help defray the costs to get them on board and make it less onerous when it comes to trying to do the financial switch for everyone. Do you feel like that program is valuable and can be helped?


Jeff Gordon: I think it can be helpful. I don’t think the program’s realistic. The issue is going to be who’s going to pay for that. Is the state going to, will the Feds pay for it, combination of both? And what about the people who don’t qualify but still might struggle financially to afford a new electric vehicle? A business that might have to switch over if they have to buy a new pickup truck? There’s a lot of again, a lot of ifs and no real answers, no real plan. And that’s extremely concerning if the state is looking to enact a mandate and not really have anything thought out to the detail that it really needs today.


Mike Hydeck: So from here on out, what would you like to see as far as developing a plan? Should there be more than one committee working on this? Is the structure there for the people who are planning or should that be changed?


Jeff Gordon: I think there should be a change. I had advocated for putting a hold on this process to let the legislature go through the various committees that needs to be done. Working with DEEP, working with all the stakeholders, people, farmers, businesses, everybody to really get the input, think this through, understand what it means here in Connecticut, and develop what I think should be a realistic, a reasonable and a responsible plan. To do it otherwise, is putting the cart before the horse and we shouldn’t be doing that. We should be smart and doing things in a good way. And I think the process that’s kind of moving forward at warp speed is not a good process at all. And it’s really disenfranchising people and businesses that need to be involved and not a good way for government to work.