The recently completed legislative session notched a number of wins — but also some losses — for environmentalists. Advocates hailed improvements to Connecticut’s “bottle bill” but expressed disappointment with lawmakers’ failure to sign on to a multistate program aimed at reducing vehicle emissions.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative was one of Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature environmental policies going into this legislative session.

The multistate program was designed to place a declining cap on emissions from gas and on-road diesel fuel, while requiring wholesalers to purchase “allowances” to cover those emissions. Money raised would be reinvested into Connecticut communities and transportation projects.

Advocates said TCI would reduce on-road carbon dioxide emissions by about one-quarter while raising $1 billion by 2032.

But opponents framed the idea as a “gas tax,” clinging to language from TCI supporters that said the measure would likely raise gas prices by at least 5 cents per gallon beginning in 2023.

“It is not a tax. It is a cap on climate emissions. And that is the whole goal of this program,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which advocated for TCI’s passage. “It generates revenue from the industries that are benefiting from the sale of fossil fuels.”

“Fifty percent of that would be reinvested into communities that were either overburdened by pollution,” Brown said, “or to communities that are the most underserved by our current transportation system.”

But the “tax” idea seemed to stick. And the bill was ultimately nixed in the late days of the session from Lamont’s proposed budget.

“Not passing TCI in the regular session was a big mistake,” said Amy McLean, state director for the Acadia Center, which advocated for TCI. “That is the priority that we need to address in the special session.”

Read the full article in the CT Mirror here