Connecticut’s Republican leaders are raising concerns over the state’s move toward all-electric vehicles (EV’s), claiming that the governor’s push toward a fully electrified future will make the state even more unaffordable than it is today.

At the end of July, Gov. Ned Lamont announced a proposal that would force car manufacturers to sell only all-electric vehicles in the state by 2035. The move to EV would affect only new cars sold in the state. Gas-powered vehicles would still be available in the used car market.

This move was a long time coming as Connecticut has pledged, through legislation, to follow California’s emissions standards, which includes a move to electric vehicles in the coming decade. The surrounding states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, and New Jersey are also making moves toward an electrified future.

Proponents of the move say that pollution caused by gas-powered vehicles makes up a large part of the current air pollution in the state. Switching to electric vehicles would force cleaner emissions standards and hopefully improve air quality.  

“These pollutants harm public health, especially in low-income, urban communities, where years of discriminatory land use and transportation policies have resulted in environmental justice communities being disproportionately burdened with particulate matter air pollution from vehicles,” argued Jay Stange of Transport Hartford Academy, a lead organizer for the Transportation Climate Coalition, when the proposal was announced.

Republican leadership, however, is worried about what a forced move to electric vehicles might mean for the state’s lower-income communities. 

“While we all want clean air and green initiatives, we need to take a step back and reassess this policy because it will crush working- and middle-class family budgets, kill jobs, and place enormous strain on an electric grid and infrastructure that is not ready for it,” said Senate Republican Leader Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-Monroe) during a news conference outside the capitol on Wednesday.

Currently, new EV’s cost range from about $28,000 for a 2023 Chevrolet Bolt to more than $100,000 for Tesla’s luxury Model S, though most average consumer vehicles hover around $30,000-$50,000. Most states pushing electric vehicles are offering thousands in rebates for the purchase of a new or used vehicle, including Connecticut.

Those prices have come down significantly since Tesla first made the vehicles trendy but increased competition, high prices on luxury vehicles, and rising prices on electric trucks have kept average prices higher than gas-powered competitors. 

Then there is the matter of the cost to drive. Electric vehicles promise huge savings on fuel costs since you’re not spending money at the pump. Instead, however, you’re trading gas expenses for an increase in your electric bill. Still, surveys of fuel costs vs. average electricity rates have found EVs to be a cheaper option across the board, as long as you’re charging up at home. Charging on the road, especially at quick charging stations that put power at a premium, can make topping up your battery just as pricey as filling your tank.

The 2035 proposals are still open to public comment for the next few weeks. The comment period closes on August 23rd. To read more and make a comment you can follow the following links:

  • Proposed section 22a-174-37, Low NOx and ACT Regulation (PR2023-020)
  • Proposed section 22a-174-36d, Advanced Clean Cars II (PR2023-023)

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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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