The Connecticut Farm Bureau Association sent a letter on November 13 to members of the General Assembly’s Regulation Review Committee urging them to reject the proposed regulations that will phase out the sale of new gasoline powered cars and trucks by 2035.
The letter, signed by Farm Bureau Executive Director Joan Nichols and President Paul Larson, includes four agricultural trade associations and over one hundred Connecticut farms.
“The proposed regulations will have a significant economic impact on our Connecticut farm businesses at a time when we are experiencing unprecedented losses from weather related events, labor shortages and escalating production costs,” Nichols and Larson wrote.
Among the agricultural concerns outlined in the letter was that perishable farm products like milk and eggs, livestock and poultry “cannot sit at charging stations or sit idle roadside waiting for repair of failed emissions sensors or equipment failure associated with EV technology.”
The letter also repeated concerns raised by Connecticut’s trucking association that the weight of electric-powered trucks, which result in reduced carrying capacity for goods, along with the higher purchase costs of electric powered trucks.
“Our farms are heavily reliant on medium and heavy-duty trucks to transport supplies, feed, fertilizer, and other inputs onto the farm while relying on the same vehicles to haul products from the fields to the farm and to market,” Nichols and Larson wrote. “These regulations will affect every farm in the state of Connecticut, from small vegetable growers to our larger dairy and poultry operations.”
“The cost to replace their current fleets with EV trucks will be in the millions of dollars,” Nichols and Larson wrote. “This expense does not include the cost to install charging stations, back-up vehicles to have available while trucks are charging, or the increased cost of commercial auto insurance which has increased significantly for older vehicles.”
The Connecticut Farm Bureau in the letter also posits the idea of “state-funded vouchers” to help farms deal with the extra costs for compliance.
The Regulation Review Committee is set to decide upon the proposal to begin limiting the sale of new gasoline powered cars starting in 2027 in order to move the state toward more electric vehicles in accordance with California’s 2022 emissions regulation change. Connecticut is one of many states that tied itself to California’s emissions standards rather than federal Environmental Protection Agency standards. The regulatory change would not apply to used vehicles, however, only new ones and residents could still purchase traditional cars out of state.
But the latest move to phase out traditional cars in favor of EVs has been controversial and the evenly split, bipartisan Regulation Review Committee is set to decide whether to implement the change on November 28, in what will surely be a highly watched and highly pressured meeting. A tied vote will deem the regulation change approved.
Proponents of the change, including Gov. Ned Lamont, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and numerous environmental groups in the state, say the change is necessary to reduce the negative health effects of transportation emissions, combat climate change – which they argue is causing some of the problems listed by Nichols and Larson – and reach Connecticut’s emission reduction goals.
A small business impact analysis of the regulatory change submitted by DEEP indicated there would be little cost to small businesses, only saying that because the regulations affect vehicle manufacturers, no small businesses in the state would be affected. The analysis did not specifically mention farming or the agriculture industry, but did address the cost issue, saying the cost of electric vehicles over their lifetime will offset the increased cost for purchase.
“It is assumed that the direct costs imposed on OEMs would be passed on through higher vehicle prices to end- users in Connecticut, which could increase prices for the purchases of vehicles in the state. However, cost evaluations for vehicles are generally determined using the “total cost of ownership” (TCO) which factors in other costs or savings such as maintenance and fuel,” the DEEP analysis said. “An analysis of the TCO for individual vehicle owners conducted by the California Air Resources Board concludes that operational savings will offset and incremental costs of the initial electric vehicle purchase.”
DEEP’s analysis also indicated that business owners will see lower healthcare costs and sick time because the air will have fewer emissions.
Republicans in the House and Senate are campaigning to reject the regulatory change, or at least require the General Assembly to vote on it, while Democrats who vastly outnumber them have generally supported the change.
The General Assembly in 2022 passed a bill to require medium and heavy-duty trucks in Connecticut to adhere to California’s standards shortly before the California Air Resources Board issued their plan to phase out the sale of new gasoline cars, thus leaving farmers and farm businesses in the regulatory crosshairs.
Connecticut’s agriculture and farming industry does hold some sway in the legislature, successfully pushing for heavy trucks carrying milk and dairy products to or from dairy farms to be excluded from the new Highway Use Tax on trucks that was passed in 2021, over the protestations of the trucking industry and Republicans in the legislature.
The letter from the Farm Bureau concludes echoing some of the concerns posited by Republicans over that past month – that the state is essentially putting the cart before the horse by approving these regulations without the necessary infrastructure or plan in place to support the change.
“While we understand the need to reach zero-emissions to combat climate change and improve our air quality, we must take a step back and strategically plan to reach those goals,” Nichols and Larson wrote. “We must build the electrical infrastructure, allow technology to catch up, and establish dedicated funding to assist farm businesses with the cost of compliance to these standards.”