Keep Politics out of the EV Debate and Listen to the People

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To the Editor:

I have met and heard from many of you who have shared your views and concerns about the Governor’s proposal to ban the sale of new, fully gas and diesel-powered cars, pickups, and trucks in Connecticut—tying us to California’s vehicle emission standards with no flexibility for deciding what’s best for us here. People do not like government telling them how to live their lives. They want to decide. They want choice when it comes to EVs. They want realistic plans regarding emission standards. I agree. This is common sense.

This message was heard loud and clear in November when an eleventh-hour shakeup occurred. The “ban with no plan” proposal was halted—for the time being. Why? Ultimately, some Democrats had second thoughts about enacting a sweeping ban. That there was no realistic plan behind the ban only made the case more evident.

People in Connecticut want to know the details of a plan: where will we get the extra electricity to power the thousands of new EVs, how will the transmission line infrastructure be built, who will pay for it all (your electric bill is already too high), where will people charge them throughout the state, will there be enough operational charging stations where people live and work, and will EVs be affordable? What about the needs of farmers, truckers, and small businesses? What about those who are low-income or economically challenged? We simply want our questions answered instead of rushing into a mandate that has to be fleshed out after it’s enacted.

I support responsible, realistic, and reasonable ways to address environmental and climate concerns. It is one thing to set goals. It is another thing in the real world to create thoughtful and well-informed plans to achieve those goals. We cannot put the cart before the horse. 

I also support people having their individual choice about buying an EV based upon what they want and can afford to do. I support the growing EV market. Let’s keep it growing and advancing technologically. At the same time, keep working to build more of the infrastructure.

The Democratic majority soon wants to hold a “special legislative session” right before the regular session that begins on Feb. 7 to politically push through an EV mandate. This blatantly circumvents the legislative process. No public hearings. No expert opinions. No stakeholder opinions. Should the Majority take this route, it outright ignores you, the people. This is wrong! People do not like it.

Government works best when it listens to people. My Republican colleagues and I are doing just that.

We have been hearing that hybrid vehicles could be mandated instead of a full EV mandate. But plug-in hybrids count only up to 20 percent of a zero-emission goal per the California rules. Not all hybrid types would be counted. Yet, plug-in hybrids still burn gas and still cause the concerns outlined above about EVs.

A $14.6 million federal grant will help build 104 new, public charging stations in Connecticut. That’s $140,000 per charging station. Not one of these new charging stations will be in northeastern Connecticut, where public charging stations are currently limited to find. This is not an equitable situation. Based upon U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates, Connecticut needs 1,500 more public stations by 2025 to meet the charging demands of projected EV sales, which could be $210 million to build. The estimates for an additional 10,000 needed by 2030 could cost $1.4 billion. Who will pay for this? An EV mandate would increase this already high need for more charging stations and so too the costs. This price tag does not account for the cost of more transmission lines and buying more electricity for the grid. These are legitimate, real concerns about how to pay for and build vast infrastructure all in a short period of time.

I am ready to meet with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to talk about real solutions for hard-working people, families, retirees, businesses, farmers, town governments, and everyone in the 35th District and across the state. I have already been doing it. Let’s get partisan politics out of the process and do what is right for public policy.

In the meantime, pay attention to what your state government is doing, speak to your elected officials, and make your voices heard—do not think that you will go unheard.

State Sen. Jeff Gordon
Woodstock, CT

Gordon, a Republican, lives in Woodstock and represents the towns of Ashford, Chaplin, Coventry, Eastford, Ellington, Hampton, Stafford, Thompson, Tolland, Union, Vernon, Willington and Woodstock