New state report shows Connecticut is ‘heading in the wrong direction’ on climate change
Researchers say more severe storms like Ida are possible if we don't cut greenhouse gases, but a new state report says Connecticut is going the wrong direction. And state lawmakers are gearing up for a renewed battle over a controversial plan to curb pollution.
Gov. Ned Lamont and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Scharf Dykes were in Silver Sands State Park in Milford on Tuesday to read out the numbers from the report.
Lamont says greenhouse gas emissions actually went up in 2018, the most recent year for which stats were available, with the 3% increase driven largely by cars and trucks.
In fact, vehicle emissions are now higher than in 1990.
READ THE REPORT: 2018 Connecticut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
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"Last spring, we did see a temporary dip in the amount of driving and emissions from the transportation sector, but that has quickly rebounded," Dykes said.
After the remnants of Hurricane Ida slammed into Connecticut last week, the governor says the situation is urgent. He is once again pitching a solution called the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), which would force wholesale fuel companies to "pay to pollute."
But solutions are a tough sell.
TCI faces fierce criticism from Republicans and even some Democrats, who have labeled it a “gas tax” that could hit lower income families with higher fuel and grocery costs. Opponents say existing federal dollars can be used on climate change programs.
“There is a problem, we all agree, but the TCI gas tax is not the solution,” said state Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford), the GOP leader in the state Senate. “Instead of focusing on proposals that take more out of CT families’ budgets, the Governor should be working on solutions that cross state lines, that support CT’s environment, and that will actually work to clean our air.”
Critics also point to a poll conducted by the fuel industry lobbying group Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, showing overwhelming opposition.
TCI opponents are planning a "Stop the Gas Tax" rally Wednesday afternoon in Stratford.
TCI could offer more rebates to buy electric cars, more incentives to build charging stations and convert thousands of school buses to electric.
The governor said he hopes lawmakers will reconsider the initiative later this month when they head back to Hartford for a special session. He says the future of beaches like this depend on it.
According to the report, transportation and building sectors saw “modest increases” in carbon emissions. A bright spot was electric utility emissions, which dropped substantially. The state has aggressively moved away from fossil fuels, including closing all coal power plants, although some natural gas facilities remain, including one in Bridgeport.
The report also suggests emissions caps on cars and revised building codes.