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Connecticut to phase out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2035

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(The Center Square) — Connecticut will join a handful of states in banning the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035, but critics say the dramatic shift to electric vehicles will be costly for consumers and could impact energy supplies.

On Wednesday, second-term Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont rolled out new regulations that will require car manufacturers to ramp up sales of electric vehicles in Connecticut leading to a ban on the sale of new fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035.

The new rules will also apply to medium and heavy-duty vehicles, including tractor-trailers, garbage trucks and other larger vehicles, requiring at least 5% sold by 2027 to be electric and 60% by 2035, Lamont said.

“Connecticut and our neighboring states are taking decisive action to meet our climate pollution reduction targets,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Cars and trucks represent the largest air pollution sector in our state and these regulations are moving in coordination with commitments made by vehicle manufacturers to go all in on electrification.”

By doing so, Connecticut joins Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey and New Mexico in announcing plans to adopt the tough rules, which are based on California emission standards. Massachusetts, New York and Vermont have already finalized their new rules.

Katie Dykes, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said the transportation sector contributes 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the state. She said the new regulations will reduce tailpipe pollution and help the state meet benchmarks to reduce emissions.

“We cannot meet our goals to do our part to reduce emissions and slow the pace of climate change if we do not reduce emissions for the transportation sector,” she said. “And a big part of the solution is offering more electric vehicles and clean vehicle options for Connecticut drivers.”

State officials point to data showing more Connecticut residents are choosing to transition to electric vehicles. As of July 1, electric vehicle registrations were up 20% since Jan. 1, and up 42% since July 1, 2022, according to data from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

But Republican lawmakers criticized the state’s move to adopt the California-modeled standards, saying it will force people to buy expensive electric vehicles and could impact regional power supplies.

House Republican Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said the elimination of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 is a policy decision “that a majority of Americans don’t agree with” and accused Democrats of “forcing Connecticut down California’s ideological regulatory rabbit hole no matter the financial cost to our state or the people who live here.”

“Promoting government-backed rebates, vouchers, and incentives, they continue to mask the issue of affordability of these vehicles while also downplaying the titanic effort to build out our charging infrastructure,” he said in a statement.

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