Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, has withdrawn his ambitious proposal to ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, marking a significant retreat from aggressive climate change policies. This decision has been hailed as a victory for consumer choice and economic pragmatism by Republican leaders and energy market advocates.
The proposal, initially framed as a decisive step towards meeting climate pollution reduction targets, faced mounting bipartisan criticism over concerns about the state’s electric grid capacity, the financial burden on middle-class families, and the overall readiness for an EV-only future.
Critics, including Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, argued that such a substantial policy shift should be decided by the General Assembly, not through executive action.
Chris Herb, the president of the Connecticut Energy Markets Association, remarked, “This is victory for consumers who would have paid a big price tag for the state’s efforts to ban gas powered cars and trucks in the future.”
He added, “However, the battle may not be over. It’s unclear what could happen next, but CEMA will continue to be vigilant in our opposition to this reckless policy. This is too much too fast, and we are not ready for an EV-only future.”
Environmentalists and supporters of the EV mandate expressed their disappointment, viewing the withdrawal as a setback in the fight against climate change. They criticized the decision as capitulating to partisan politics and fossil fuel industry lobbying, warning of lost opportunities for environmental and health benefits.
State Sen. Stephen Harding (R-District 30), a member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Environment Committee, intended to be present for the vote. Harding expressed his support for encouraging electric vehicle use, yet he feels that prohibiting the sale of gas-powered vehicles is an excessive measure.
“If you think your electric rates are high now, wait till UI and Eversource start implementing the infrastructure to take this on,” Harding stated.
Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly from Stratford issued the following statement, “The Governor’s decision to withdraw the regulations is a reasoned approach to address the growing concerns raised by working and middle class families. Adopting California emission standards which ban the sale of gas-powered cars is a substantial policy shift which must be decided by the General Assembly.
“There are too many questions regarding the capacity of our electric grid, the cost and location of grid improvements, and the negative impact on urban, rural and working poor families.”
The extensive doubts, issues, and the anticipated committee’s disapproval seem to have prompted Lamont to reconsider the existing proposal for exclusively selling electric vehicles by 2035.
State Representative Anne Hughes (D-District 135) mentioned that the Biden Infrastructure Act assists states in establishing clean energy grids, which would reduce costs.
“Disappointed not in the governor, but in my colleagues. These standards are not radical or controversial. They are quite frankly the least we can do in the face of an urgent climate crisis,” Hughes remarked.
This development represents a significant blow to the environmental movement, particularly in a state controlled by Democrats. The decision by Governor Lamont, a Democrat, to pull back from the EV mandate reflects the growing recognition of these challenges.