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Scrapping special session, full CT legislature will consider EV regulations

Mohegan Sun recently opened a Tesla Electric Vehicle Showroom which allows customers to directly buy vehicles from the EV manufacturer.
Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
Mohegan Sun recently opened a Tesla Electric Vehicle Showroom which allows customers to directly buy vehicles from the EV manufacturer.

State lawmakers have decided to abandon the idea of a special session to consider updated electric vehicle regulations to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and will now consider the issue in the upcoming legislative session.

The latest California emission standards would end the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

According to House Speaker Matt Ritter, lawmakers hope to bring a bill before a public hearing in the coming months.

“We are very close to something we can vote on, but a final product remains elusive,” Ritter said, in a statement.

Gov. Ned Lamont originally pulled the proposal from a vote in November after there weren't enough votes to support it. Opponents wanted more public input on phasing out the sale of new gas cars before the regulations are adopted. Those supporting the California standards say it’s vital to meet the state’s emission reduction targets.

With the regular session starting in early February, Lamont’s office says the administration is working with the legislature on the proposal.

“Governor Lamont is committed to cleaner air and confident from his conversations with Democratic leadership that the legislature will stand by their commitment to put Connecticut on the path towards a zero-carbon future,” said Julia Bergman, a spokesperson.

The regulations outline that new passenger cars bought after 2035 would have to be electric or hybrid-powered, but used cars that solely run on gas could still be bought and sold in the state after that year.

Some opponents to the regulations are also concerned whether the state’s grid could handle the extra strain from more electric vehicles. A key concern is how much it will cost to update the grid to handle a transition to more electric vehicles in the coming years.

Ambitious “green” solutions must also be cost-effective, State Rep. Bill Buckbee, R-New Milford, and a ranking member of the Energy and Technology Committee, said at a roundtable event Thursday discussing upcoming energy legislative priorities.

“We talked about balance a lot last year in this committee,” Buckbee said. “And I think that's where the balance needs to be; find it between that laudable effort and the affordable solution for the people of the state.

Updates to the electric grid need to incorporate more renewables, while also keeping the cost of power low, said State Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex, co-chair of the Energy and Technology committee.

“We run the risk of, globally, having a billion people on the move, because of climate problems,” Needleman said. “I want to continue to work together to move common sense legislation forward.”

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. She has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.