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Gas stations, truckers say emissions bill will drive energy prices higher

Association leaders for Connecticut’s gas stations and home heating companies along with Connecticut truckers say an emissions bill being pushed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will lead to increased gasoline, home heating oil and transportation costs for Connecticut residents. 

“The Connecticut legislature is advancing a bill that will place a fourth tax on gasoline, new taxes on diesel fuel and a first time ever tax on heating fuel along with every fuel used in this state,” said Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), which represents 75 percent of the gasoline stations in Connecticut and 600 small home heating oil companies, at a press conference in New Britain.

“When gasoline prices spiked last year, the legislature suspended the excise tax to provide relief to motorists and now they’re on the verge of contradicting themselves as they consider legislation that will significantly increase fuel prices across the board,” Herb said.

Herb, along with John Blair, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) and Peter Brennan, executive director of the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) said they were drawing attention to Senate Bill 1145, which would give the commissioner of DEEP the authority to enter into interstate agreements to implement market-based compliance programs to lower Connecticut’s emissions.

The bill was passed by the General Assembly’s Environment Committee earlier this year along a party line vote.

“Senate Bill 1145 is a terrible piece of legislation,” said Brennan, who represents more than 1,200 stores that sell gasoline in Connecticut. “It’s going to increase costs for everybody in Connecticut, especially those who fuel their vehicles, heat their homes, really do anything.”

“This is a horribly regressive policy. These taxes don’t impact the wealthiest in the state, these taxes impact those who can barely put food on their table, as well as drive their kids to practice and put food on the table every day” Brennan said.

Although specific taxes on home heating fuels and gasoline are not mentioned in the bill – its focus is on regulation – they’re concerned that granting the DEEP commissioner the ability to enter into interstate compacts could lead to higher fuel prices in the future and that the regulations will have a tax-like effect of raising the costs of doing business.

“This bill is a significant problem for my members,” said Blair, whose trucking company members are just now dealing with the effects of Connecticut’s new highway use tax on trucks. “Any cost that affects our members and affects the cost of delivering goods to households and communities will be passed onto consumers.”

The interstate compacts could include the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) which was pushed heavily in 2021 but was never taken up by the legislature, California’s cap and trade system or, possibly, the system in Quebec, Canada. Herb says that if Connecticut adopted California’s cap and trade system, it would increase costs of gasoline, home heating fuel, propane and natural gas between 47 and 83 cents per gallon, depending on the type of fuel.

The associations also argue that the bill would essentially turn the power to tax fuels over to an unelected commissioner, rather than the legislature, an issue raised by Republican leaders Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, and Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford.

“This bill allows the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to basically oversee tax policy,” Blair said. “We’re concerned about the department usurping the legislative authority.”

DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes has remained quiet on the issue other than testimony before the Environment Committee during which she noted that Connecticut is not meeting its statutory emission reduction goals. Committee chair Sen. Rick Lopes, D-New Britain, pushed back against Republican opposition saying that lawmakers will still have the power to undo regulations and changes in the future if necessary.

If passed, any new regulations undertaken by the DEEP commissioner would still have to go before the state’s Regulation Review Committee, but Blair says he doesn’t feel the committee is a strong enough bulwark against these potential changes.

“Only having regs review only reviewing those types of issues – greenhouse gas emissions going out to 2035, 2040 – we think the standard of review is very low for the state of Connecticut,” Blair said.

The legislation was supported by numerous environmental groups, which focused on the bulk of the bill enabling the DEEP commissioner to set sector-specific emission reduction regulations to meet the state’s climate goals, including commercial heating and cooling, residential heating and cooling, industrial processes, natural gas distribution and service and “working lands.”

The regulations, however, would also apply to “indirect emissions,” meaning emissions “associated with the consumption of purchased electricity, steam and heating or cooling by an entity or facility and the sale or distribution of transportation of transportation fuels or heating fuels,” according to the bill language.

It would also give the commissioner the ability to levy fines for failure to meet the emission reduction goals. Connecticut currently adheres to California’s emissions policy for passenger vehicles and, after passage in 2022, for medium and heavy-duty trucks.

“Senate Bill 1145 would allow the largest transfer of power from the legislative branch to the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by allowing her to enter into tax agreements with other states and Canadian provinces,” Herb said. “To put that in perspective, not even the governor has that power.”

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.


  1. Susanne Krivit
    April 19, 2023 @ 9:40 am

    A lot of “mights”, “maybes”, and “coulds” in this article although the headline says “will”.


  2. DeC
    April 20, 2023 @ 9:17 am

    If this were to happen, they may as well just shut the state down like in 2020. Many would be priced out and then what…another cycle of government aid. Another vicious circle. Things are slowly getting back on track so perfect time to kick us back down again…..


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