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Lamont walks back plans to ban gas vehicles by 2035

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(The Center Square) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is pulling back plans to ban gas-powered vehicle sales amid bipartisan opposition from lawmakers.

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.

But Lamont pulled back on the plans this week after it became clear that there weren’t enough votes in the Democratic-controlled committee to advance the plan.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Lamont said he plans to continue to push for the new regulations and urged Democratic leaders to “reach across the aisle” to convince some of the “naysayers” who opposed the proposal.

The maneuver to pull back the rules ahead of the committee’s vote kicks the issue to the next legislative session. Democratic legislative leaders told reporters this week that they will try to convince skeptical colleagues and consumers to approve the tough emission standards.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said lawmakers must address issues of affordability, technology, and the cost of electricity to charge electric vehicles.

“They have to be worked on,” he said. “You have to show people, and demonstrate with actual science and showing dollars and cents how cars are becoming cheaper and where they’re going to be.”

If the state waits until next year to adopt the regulations, the rules would not go into effect until the rollout of model year 2028 vehicles under federal requirements to impose new state-level standards.

More than a dozen states — including New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey — have formally adopted California’s stringent vehicle emissions standards. They’ve been prodded by environmental groups who want to accelerate a nationwide shift to electric vehicles to help blunt the impact of climate change.

But, the effort has faced pushback from those who argue that it will force people to buy expensive electric vehicles and could impact regional power supplies. Critics also point out that Connecticut lacks the infrastructure to support a full-fledged shift to electric vehicles.

The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, representing gas station owners, welcomed Lamont’s decision to shelve the proposed ban on fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

“I think that it’s a wise move on the governor’s part in response to the public outrage about the potential that this policy would have on consumer cost across the board,” Chris Herb, the group’s president, said in a statement.

House Republican Minority Leader Vincent Candelora called Lamont’s move to walk back the regulations “prudent” and cited a “growing revolt from a diverse chorus of stakeholders with concerns ranging from electric grid capacity and reliability to the availability of charging stations and simple freedom of choice.”

“My hope is that the Governor and legislative Democrats who desperately wanted this unreasonable ban will go back to the drawing board and develop a more realistic proposal that controls costs and protects consumer choice for Connecticut residents,” he said in a statement.

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