After lawmakers and advocates pushed for prioritizing the Transportation Climate Initiative as a legislative priority in the coming session, Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press conference Tuesday that he would not be pursuing the regional climate plan next January.
In comments, Lamont made the case that given the large influx of federal dollars into the state from the American Rescue Plan and the new Build Back Better infrastructure plan, there is no longer as grave a need to raise revenue through TCI, which would have placed fees on fuel wholesalers to incentivize lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Lamont also pointed to surging gas prices, saying that now is not the time to pass the legislation, which opponents say amounts a gas tax, arguing that the cost to wholesalers would be passed onto consumers through increased gas prices.
“It’s probably not the year to do it this year, with gas prices where they are,” Lamont said.
Still the Governor said the plan could be revisited in 2023.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said State Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester. “It’s an initiative that would have benefited everyone. From overburdened city communities with high asthma rates, to rural districts where elders would have shuttle buses, to mass transit for millennials. It’s a shame, really. Not only does the environment lose, we all lose.”
Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said he was “hopeful” that the decision was more than just a campaign promise.
“I hope he is ready to rally with us and push back against Democrats who continue to push for new taxes on those who can least afford them,” Kelly said.
Lori Brown, executive director of Connecticut’s League of Conservation Voters, said she was still holding out hope that TCI could, once again, be revived.
“I don’t think this is the end of the line,” Brown said. “We’re going to be needing a ton of matching money for the American Rescue Plan and the infrastructure bill, so this may be premature. We’ve been on this roller coaster ride for the last 11 months with TCI, so I’m not dissuaded by another obstacle.”