HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The debate continues over Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan for all new cars in Connecticut to go all-electric.
Earlier this month, some state Republicans held a news conference bashing the plan. Supporters gathered Wednesday to fight back.
“Nobody is banning combustion engines in Connecticut, and shame on those people who are perpetuating that false and fake news,” Rev. Josh Pawelek with Unitarian Universalist Society East in Manchester said.
Electric vehicle advocates said people fighting the state phasing out of the sale of new gas-powered cars in a dozen years are engaging in fear-mongering and misinformation.
“If you are so opposed to electric vehicles, what have you proposed instead?” State Rep. Christine Palm (D-36th) said.
Advocates said electric cars mean cleaner air, address global warming and dramatically improve Connecticut’s poor air quality.
“Electrifying our fleet of cars and trucks will help clean our air and provide better health outcomes for our children and future generations to come,” Dr. Sanjiv Godse, chair of the Connecticut Health Professionals for Climate Action, said.
They also said the focus now is on making electric cars more affordable because the change is already underway.
“Ford, GM, Volvo, Jaguar, the list goes on and on. Some, as soon as 2025, say they will stop production of internal combustion engines, many in 2030 and 2035,” state Sen. Christine Cohen (D-Guilford) said.
“They are prepared not only to sell the cars,” state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport), co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, said. “They are prepared to invest their resources and innovation into creating more efficient and effective batteries, to take a shorter time to charge, and take you a further distance.”
In response to Wednesday’s news conference, House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) and Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) issued a joint statement.
“The proposed regulations to prohibit the sale of new gas-powered vehicles are deeply unpopular, and nothing that Democrats said today will dent that reality because they continue to ignore the common sense concerns that have been expressed by Connecticut residents,” their statement read. “Their proposed timeline is too extreme, and not only is there no clear plan on how Connecticut would achieve or even pay for the massive grid-related improvements needed to support a far-reaching build-out of charging infrastructure, they continue to ignore the financial implications for businesses and residents.”
House and Senate Ranking Members of the Environment Committee, Rep. Pat Callahan (R-New Fairfield) and Sen. Steve Harding (R-Brookfield), also issued a joint statement.
“We should take a pause on adopting these EV regulations and timelines and think about the unintended consequences on Connecticut residents,” their statement read. “Those advocating for these regulations keep saying that the infrastructure will be ready by the 2035 deadline but haven’t outlined a roadmap to get Connecticut there. An enormous change in the way people live and do business should be evolutionary, not revolutionary. They are forcing residents and businesses into this very expensive lifestyle change, backed by government rebates and incentives, to simply switch emissions from tailpipe to smokestack.”
Along with charging stations, both sides of the debate agree Connecticut’s electric grid would have to be updated to handle the demand.
Before the proposed EV rule goes into effect, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) must approve it, and the legislature’s regulations review committee must pass it. No word yet when that may happen.