Don’t California My Connecticut!

State Sen. Rob Sampson


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To the Editor:

Connecticut has little in common with California, other than increasingly progressive leadership, and the resulting damage to our economies and civil rights. California has approximately ten times the population of our “Nutmeg State.” Our geographic area is roughly a mere three percent of California’s, and of course, we are separated by 3,000 miles on opposite coasts of North America. Yet, we are tied by an invisible thread of government policy dictating the behavior of Connecticut residents.

The federal government requires states to either adopt the emission standards set by the Department of Environmental Protection or the California emission standards. In 2004, Connecticut passed Public Act 04-84, which required the commissioner of the then-DEP to adopt the California standards for light-duty vehicles. Surprisingly, members of both parties overwhelmingly voted in favor of such nonsense. While there were several “no” votes during the committee process, the bill passed the Senate 36-0 and the House 143-1 with only my friend, Rep. John Piscopo (R), as the lone (and correct) “no” vote.

Until recently, our law only required us to adopt the light-duty standards. This changed in 2022. PA 22-25: “An Act Concerning the Connecticut Clean Air Act,” allowed, but did not require, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) to adopt the emission standards for both medium and heavy-duty vehicles. Ironically, this time, only one Republican voted in favor. That’s something, I guess.

Now, the Lamont administration is attempting to use its executive and regulatory authority via CT DEEP to create an even farther-reaching mandate preventing the purchase of new gasoline-powered cars starting in 2035. Similar mandates on light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks will also be phased-in beginning in model year 2027.

This is unacceptable. We live in a free nation that guarantees our citizens the freedom of choice and expression. Those freedoms extend to your consumer purchases. Our government does not have the right to force citizens to buy one product over another. 

These same freedoms should also extend to automakers that will now be forced to overhaul their entire product line in the span of 12 years. It is market forces that should drive an automaker’s vehicle lineup. If you, as consumers, find so-called “eco-friendly” vehicles to be appealing, then automakers will adjust accordingly. 

Consumers, automakers, repair shops, and fuel stations should not be subject to extreme government force and coercion. Personal choice and freedom in the marketplace must be protected. This imperative is especially true when there is a lack of any compelling argument whatsoever to begin outlawing gasoline-powered vehicles. 

The case for global climate change as the direct result of manmade CO2 emissions is not the least bit conclusive with scientists on all sides of the argument. Some even suggest that CO2 levels were at dangerously low levels until recently, potentially preventing photosynthesis, killing plant life and eventually everything. This theory, therefore, contends that manmade CO2 might have even helped.

That debate should continue based only in legitimate science. For our purposes, the argument over climate change is moot since the banning of gas-powered autos and trucks in favor of electric vehicles does not reduce the amount of so called “fossil fuels” in use or CO2 emissions. Our electric grid relies almost entirely upon natural gas. This is the true source of the electricity that would be used to charge and recharge the batteries in electric vehicles. Until our electric grid is powered by something other than natural gas, the push for electric vehicles is unnecessary, and obviously based solely in politics and hysteria.

More importantly, one small U.S. state making such a commitment is as implausible as it is pointless. Without a worldwide commitment and effort, there is zero attainable benefit to our environment through this policy agenda.

The average EV costs more than $53,000 according to Kelly Blue Book. Wouldn’t it be great if Connecticut’s economy was booming, and we all could afford brand new EVs? Prices will likely climb by year 2035. The result will be fewer newer vehicles being purchased. People will choose to retain their older, less efficient gas-powered vehicles longer. Remarkably, this is another result in direct contradiction of the EV initiative’s stated goals. 

We must also consider the environmental and humanitarian impact of EVs in terms of their production and recycling. The materials used come from ecologically-questionable cobalt mining in Third World countries by unfriendly—and even adversarial—nations with egregious environmental and human rights records. Countless news stories have been published itemizing the damage to the environment, as well as the human suffering that is already underway to satisfy the demand for lithium batteries. 

The batteries themselves also raise concerns. They have proven to be dangerous in terms of potential fires and the inability to be recycled in an environmentally conscious manner.

Finally, the Left has omitted a key detail in this entire conversation: Connecticut’s electric grid simply cannot handle the increase in electric usage that will be needed to power EVs. We already pay some of the highest premiums for electricity in the nation. Our electric grid, energy production, and overall infrastructure will need to be dramatically overhauled – and in just 10 to 12 years. This is not nearly enough time to accomplish this monumental task. 

Possibly worse than the mandate itself is that the Governor is attempting to circumvent the legislature in the process. The people’s elected representatives must be allowed to weigh-in during future discussions so that we may cooperatively find ways to make our state more economically and environmentally friendly in a safe and responsible manner. 

How long will Connecticut’s residents put up with government that puts virtue signaling ahead of reason and good policy? My prediction, and my hope, is not long. 

State Sen. Rob Sampson

Sampson, a Republican, lives in Wolcott and represents Wolcott, Prospect, Southington, and Waterbury in the State Senate.