Proposal to Phase Out Gas-Powered Vehicles in CT Gets New Lane

State lawmakers ditched a plan to debate a proposed ban on new gas-powered vehicles in a special session, but could do so during the upcoming regular session.

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Members of the House's Republican minority caucus welcomed the decision to consider the proposal in the regular session. Image via Shutterstock.

Consideration of a proposed ban on sales of new gas-powered vehicles in Connecticut could happen in regular legislative session, but will not happen in a special called one.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said the new legislative session gets started Feb. 7. Formal consideration of a proposal to adopt California's strict vehicle emissions rules could come up.

California is phasing out sales of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035.

Members of the House's Republican minority caucus welcomed the decision to consider the proposal in the regular session, when legislative committees will be required to review the plans and hold public hearings on the proposed changes.

"Pushing an EV mandate is one thing, but the tone-deafness of the Democratic legislative majority to push through a mandate in a special session soon before the regular session begins was wrong," said state Sen. Jeff Gordon, R-Woodstock. "No public hearings. No public input. No committee meetings. The people of Connecticut would have been ignored and bypassed."

Republican Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly called the decision to shelve the special session a "victory for the families of Connecticut who refused to let their voices be dismissed."

"Reckless and arrogant majority Democrats were on the verge of banning the sale of gas-powered cars, placing more costs on our families, dividing our communities and leaving people behind," Kelly said in a statement. "They were more than willing to favor affluent families over poor, working and middle class families who cannot afford a single-family home."

In November, Gov. Ned Lamont put the brakes on a plan to ban new gas-powered vehicle sales after it became clear there weren't enough votes in a Democratic-majority legislative committee to advance the plan.

The regulations, which the Legislature's Regulation Review Committee was considering, would have required auto manufacturers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles in the state, leading to a ban on the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035. Several Democrats joined Republicans in signaling opposition to the proposal.

The maneuver to pull back the rules ahead of the committee's vote kept it alive and kicked the issue to the next legislative session for consideration. Democratic legislative leaders said they will try to convince skeptical colleagues and consumers to move ahead with the new emission standards.

"We have to demonstrate to the Connecticut residents that this switch will not only save the environment---save lives and save our planet---but not leave you in a position where you can no longer afford a vehicle," Ritter told reporters in November.

More than a dozen states---including New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey---have formally adopted California's stringent vehicle emissions standards. 

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