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Opponents call for reversal in Connecticut's shift to electric vehicles by 2035

Governor Ned Lamont, legislators, and advocates admire an electric car at A-1 Toyota in New Haven.
Molly Ingram
Governor Ned Lamont, legislators, and advocates admire an electric car at A-1 Toyota in New Haven. Lamont touted the plan to electrify the state's car sales in July.

Connecticut’s top leaders are pushing forward with plans to require all vehicle sales to be electric by 2035. It’s part of a plan to adopt California’s emissions standards.

But the plan does not have support from Republican lawmakers, and has also drawn criticism from some auto retailers and energy employees.

Chris Herb is president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association. He testified on Tuesday that the proposal would harm low-income families and small businesses.

”The regulatory flexibility analysis developed by DEEP only considers the impact that these regulations will have on the original equipment manufacturers and ignores the hundreds of mom and pop businesses that sell diesel and gasoline,” Herb said.

Michael Fox heads the state’s association of gasoline retailers. He said the ban on gas-powered vehicles would lead to significant job losses and EV’s are not as emissions-free as advertised.

“They are not the path to our future," Fox said. "In fact, what they clearly are is a path to trading one environmental disaster for another.”

Supporters of the policy, including Charles Rothenberger of Save the Sound, pushed back.

“There should be no fear about whether this is achievable," Rothenberger said. "Indeed, all you have to do is ask the manufacturers of these vehicles, all of whom have announced quite aggressive plans to achieve full electrification of their fleets.”

A representative of Eversource, the state’s largest electric utility, testified that a state ramp-up of charging infrastructure would be needed. Experts say they don’t expect gas cars to disappear by 2035.

Republicans also want the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to extend the public comment process — a request that was denied by Governor Ned Lamont.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.