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CT lawmakers slow down plans to foster EV adoption, say they want to study the issue instead

Electric vehicle charging stations setup to also charge for the service in Area 1 premium & commuter parking at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and on campuses across the state. Storrs, Connecticut May 09, 2023.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Electric vehicle charging stations setup to also charge for the service in Area 1 premium & commuter parking at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and on campuses across the state. Storrs, Connecticut May 09, 2023.

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a new proposal to establish a council to assess infrastructure for the future expansion of electric vehicles.

This bill comes amid concerns over the feasibility of Connecticut adopting updated California-led emission standards. Those rules, which neighboring Massachusetts and New York have already adopted, would phase out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Connecticut considered adopting the California-led standards last year. Legislative leadership floated the idea of a special session in early 2024 to adopt the standards, but the effort was delayed over questions about access to EV charging infrastructure and other concerns.

Now, lawmakers say they want to study the issue further.

Under the updated proposal, a 40-person council would be appointed to assess and report on strategies and plans to get Connecticut ready for more electric vehicles. The council would include representatives from electric utilities, environmental advocates, electric vehicle battery manufacturers and more.

The goal is to bring a balanced perspective to Connecticut’s infrastructure investments, said Transportation Committee co-chair Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, at a public hearing Wednesday.

“I think we're moving towards electrification regardless, and our state is not ready for it,” Lemar said. “I think we all have to be honest, in that assessment, we're not there yet.”

Proponents of the bill are pushing for expansion of zero-emission electric passenger vehicles to curb impacts of the climate crisis. In Connecticut, the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is its transportation sector.

Connecticut Republican leaders Sen. Stephen Harding and Rep. Vincent Candelora testified in opposition to the bill. They shared various concerns, including that creating such a council “provides the majority [Democrats] to launch a full pursuit towards this EV mandate."

Ahead of the public hearing, hundreds of people also submitted written testimony in opposition to the bill.

Sen Christine Cohen, a committee co-chair, said the proposed council provides direction for an updated zero-emission vehicle roadmap. The Democrat said an update is needed regardless of whether the state adopts California-led regulations, or reverts to less-strict federal standards.

“Connecticut needs to be ready. From a national standpoint, from a regional standpoint, from our residents’ standpoint,” Cohen said. “We need to make sure that these cars are affordable, charging is accessible, and that we have an equitable approach in getting there.”

If approved, the council would make draft zero-emission roadmap recommendations by mid-November this year – the latest version since 2020.

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.