There are a host of new rules and regulations on the books in Connecticut aimed at cutting the state’s emissions and protecting against climate change. On Friday, Governor Lamont signed Public Act 22-25, otherwise known as the Connecticut Clean Air Act, into state law, following its passage through the General Assembly earlier this year.

“This historic law does so many great things that will benefit the residents of Connecticut, improving air quality and health outcomes while also helping to mitigate the climate crisis,” Governor Lamont said during the signing. “This is another great example of Connecticut leading on climate, particularly at a time when continued state leadership in this area is critical, given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in West Virginia v. EPA, and certain members of Congress stymying passage of substantial climate legislation.”

The bill takes specific aim at vehicle pollution, looking to cut back on emissions from fossil fuel-burning cars and trucks and incentivize the use of low emission or electric vehicles

Among the major changes is an authorization that allows the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to adopt California’s emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. A bill that would have adopted those standards separately for the state was tabled in the House during the regular session. 

The adoption of those standards is part of the state’s efforts to keep promises made in a memorandum of understanding signed alongside 14 others and the District of Columbia. The goal is for all MHDs to be electric by 2050, reaching 30% electric by 2030.

Some opponents to the House bill cited concerns over the impact such changes would have on the agriculture industry since farmers might need to upgrade their equipment to meet the new standards. 

The Clear Air Act also includes changes to the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program. Among them are updates to the program’s board, as well as extending priority in the program to low-income individuals and those in environmental justice communities. It also “directs all of the greenhouse gas reduction fee and part of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to the CHEAPR account.”

The CHEAPR program provides financial incentives to residents of the state who buy or lease an electric vehicle, including plug-in hybrid models. In addition to the standard rebate, there are added funds for those who participate in certain income-qualified programs. Additionally, the bill would extend vouchers through CHEAPR for the use of medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles.

Speaking of electric vehicles, the bill includes certain “right to charge” requirements at condominiums and “common interest communities” as well as “renter’s right to charge” under certain criteria. New construction will now also be required to install a certain percentage of parking spaces to include EV charging stations or infrastructure.

“This is a thoughtful and crucial piece of legislation that will move Connecticut forward to a place of better health, more sustainable transportation options, and cleaner air,” State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford), Senate chair of the Environment Committee, said at the signing ceremony. “We now have an opportunity to leverage federal funds, to mitigate climate change, to help our businesses electrify their truck fleets, and to improve the air quality and health outcomes for all Connecticut residents.”

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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