Leaders of the Connecticut Republican Party are calling on the state to slow its intended transition to electric vehicles ahead of a key committee meeting on November 28th.

Under current law, Connecticut follows California in updating its emissions standards. This includes a recent commitment to require all new vehicle purchases to be electric starting in 2035. The rules would only apply to new vehicle purchases and would not outlaw gas vehicles that are already on the road. Consumers would also be allowed to purchase used gas vehicles, though it is difficult to predict what effect this might have on gas prices.

The mandate has faced intense and sustained backlash from Republican lawmakers, as well as business owners who utilize vehicles for their primary work, especially those who use heavy-duty vehicles like semis.

In a press conference earlier this week, members of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA) called the policy “too much, too soon” and raised their own concerns over the effect the transition will have on the fuel and trucking industry.

Today, State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) and State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) voiced their own concerns over regulations they say are a bad fit for Connecticut.

Sen. Kelly, in his opening statements, argued that Connecticut should back away from tying its greenhouse gas emissions standards to California and instead join more than 30 other states in following federal standards. These would require the state to lower emissions considerably but would stop short of imposing requirements on EVs. 

“We don’t have one representative from the State of Connecticut in Sacramento, but we have seven in Washington,” he argued. “Who do we trust? I trust the people of Connecticut. The people of Connecticut are the ones we need to hear from, that we need to trust, and their elected representatives are the ones who should be making this decision.”

Rep. Candelora, meanwhile, framed it as an issue of lawmakers forcing Connecticut consumers into a position where their choices are limited.

Both lawmakers see the mandate as a threat to low- and middle-income families, as well as small businesses who might lack the means to make the upgrades in their homes, even more than a decade in the future.

Also at issue are vehicle battery capacity and reliability and charging infrastructure, both of which are currently lacking beyond personal use. Businesses that rely on fleets and long-distance driving could see an impact if these concerns aren’t dealt with. When asked by a reporter if they were taking into account potential advancements in this technology over the next decade, Candelora said that Connecticut should not rely on these assumptions.

Kelly, for his part, argued strongly that the state does not, and likely will not, have the energy capacity to support a large-scale transition to electric-powered vehicles, even with a 12-year runway. 

“Right now our electric grid can’t handle if every car were electric.  We don’t have the capacity,” said Kelly. “The industry says that we need a $2.4 billion investment, 14 new substations. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s  plan  does  not  tell  us  where  those  substations  are  going  to  go.”

Ultimately, the Republican argument came down to a concern that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Lamont administration had announced the looming mandate without putting in place any plan to get there. Their hope, they said, was to override the mandate at the Regulations Review Committee meeting on the 28th.

“Not only do citizens deserve more time, they deserve to have their elected voices in Hartford—their state representative and state senator—weigh in on this monumental shift in policy with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote,” said Rep. Candelora. “Regulations Review committee members must send this back to the legislature for examination and deliberation, providing the public opportunity to share their comments, concerns, and questions at every step along the way.” 

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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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