Environmental groups are pressuring Connecticut lawmakers to revive a cap-and-trade proposal aimed at lowering emissions from the transportation sector during an upcoming special legislative session.
But with that session set to begin soon, it remains unclear if, or when, the proposal will come up for a vote.
Governor Ned Lamont (D) earlier this year pushed for the state to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) by championing legislation, SB 884, but the proposal never reached the Senate floor.
The program targets a 30pc reduction in CO2 emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel use in the US northeast by 2032 from a 2002 base year.
“Unfortunately, it is still unclear whether or not this will be on the agenda for a special session in September,” Jordan Stutt, director of carbon programs at the Acadia Center energy think tank, said. “But we are continuing to urge policymakers to take action on this with urgency. This cannot wait.”
The push follows a recent report from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) that showed transportation emissions climbing and recommended that the state join TCI-P.
“There seems to be a lack of urgency to rein in transportation pollution and the longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will be to meaningfully address that problem,” Stutt said.
Environmental group Save the Sound is also trying to rally support for the program, although its leaders are not as optimistic about a vote in September.
“I think they were trying to keep things focused so they did not open a can of worms with having a bunch of competing proposals in this session,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney for the group. “That being said, I think the possibility is still open in terms of coming back for a subsequent session before the regular February session.”
Representative Joe Gresko (D) last week said he hopes to have TCI “under consideration at a future special session, possibly in November,” but said that the proposal would not be taken up at the September session. Senate Transportation Committee co-chair Will Haskell said he “continues to support a cap-and-invest program that will reduce carbon emissions and improve greener transportation infrastructure.”
But opponents like Senate Republican leader Kevin Kelly are pushing back, calling TCI a “gas tax.” Kelly has urged Lamont to focus on maximizing investment in the state via federal dollars rather than to try to push this legislation.
Lamont’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Lamont at the end of 2020 signed an initial agreement with Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC, that called for the four jurisdictions to launch the program as early as 2023, with next year to serve as an emissions reporting period.
But the deal requires at least three states to complete the necessarily legislation or regulation to formally launch the program, which does not seem likely given roadblocks in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The program was developed through the TCI, a collaboration of 13 states and the District of Columbia. The TCI-P was tentatively set to launch next year and begin compliance in 2023 with a CO2 budget of about 42.1mn metric tonnes.
This piece was authored by Julia Martinez and published in the Argus Media newsletter