The proposal, which aimed to align Connecticut's emissions standards with those set in California, would have required all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be electric by 2035.
Republican lawmakers, including Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, expressed concerns about the proposal, citing questions about the capacity of the electric grid, the cost of grid improvements, and the potential negative impact on working and middle-class families. Kelly argued that a state-by-state strategy would only delay the attainment of cleaner air and called for a national and international approach to improving air quality.
The proposal faced opposition from Republicans on the Legislative Regulation Review Committee, a 14-member bicameral committee responsible for approving regulations proposed by state agencies. After Democrats on the committee also voiced concerns, Lamont decided to withdraw the proposal from the committee's agenda.
Connecticut state Senator John Kissel, the committee's GOP co-chair, praised the decision, stating that something as life-changing as a mandate on vehicle choices should be decided by the full state legislature. Senator Paul Cicarella, another Republican on the panel, claimed that Democrats realized there was no plan to implement the EV mandate proposed by Lamont.
Under Lamont's proposal, 75% of trucks and buses would also need to be electric by 2035. The passenger car mandate was enabled by a bill passed in 2003 that tied Connecticut's clean air rules to California's program. The mandate for trucks and buses was enabled by the 2022 Connecticut Clean Air Act.
The decision to withdraw the proposal is seen as a setback for the EV industry and a blow to environmentalists who have advocated for similar mandates nationwide. Democrats have long held control of the Connecticut General Assembly and maintain a large majority in both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
Environmental groups, including Save the Sound, the Sierra Club Connecticut, and the Conservation Law Foundation, criticized the decision, claiming that it rolled back environmental progress and was driven by partisan politics. They also accused the fossil fuel industry of lobbying to block the mandate.
On the other hand, energy industry and right-leaning groups celebrated the failure of the proposal, viewing it as a victory for consumers. The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association praised the decision, stating that it protected consumers from the high costs associated with banning gas-powered vehicles. However, they acknowledged that the battle may not be over and that the proposal could resurface in a different form or be put up for a vote in the state legislature.
Carol Platt Liebau, the president of conservative think tank Yankee Institute, applauded the decision, emphasizing the importance of individual choice and market-driven innovation in guiding car and truck sales. Liebau argued that the proposed regulations would have placed significant costs on consumers and businesses without providing the environmental benefits proponents claimed.
Governor Lamont's office did not respond to requests for comment on the withdrawal of the proposal.
The withdrawal of Governor Lamont's EV mandate proposal in Connecticut is a significant development in the ongoing debate over electric vehicles and emissions standards. While environmentalists and some Democrats are disappointed by the decision, Republicans and industry groups view it as a victory for consumer choice and market-driven innovation.
The future of EV mandates in Connecticut remains uncertain, but the withdrawal of this proposal highlights the challenges and complexities of implementing such policies at the state level.