Connecticut Backs Out Of Transportation Climate Initiative

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And then there were two states remaining.

Connecticut no longer wants to be a part of the cap-and-trade Transportation and Climate Initiative, leaving Massachusetts and Rhode Island as the only remaining states that are a part of the compact planning to charge a carbon fee on fuel providers. Washington D.C. is also still part of the dwindled group.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, reached a deal with lawmakers in the state that the initiative won’t advance. This makes Connecticut the 10th state to back out of the initiative. 

Initially, a dozen states expressed interest in the Transportation and Climate Initiative when the idea first came up in 2019. However, Lamont and the legislature ditched the idea while working on the budget for the coming fiscal year late last week.

“The leadership was very clear. Really all the leadership — Republicans and Democrats alike — in saying that they didn’t have the votes to get TCI done,” Lamont told NBC Connecticut on Friday, June 4.

The proposal calls for charging fees to fuel providers based on their carbon emissions. That revenue is then supposed to go towards improving public transportation, with the idea of reducing the need for people to drive their own car. The theory is that higher fuel prices provide a disincentive for consumption and therefore reduce carbon emissions, and that if more people use public transportation then fewer people will drive and that carbon emissions will therefore decrease. 

Critics argue the proposed carbon fuel is effectively a regressive tax that disproportionately affects working-class Americans with longer commutes to work.

Just how much it would increase the cost of gas and diesel is unclear. It could increase the price of a gallon of gasoline and diesel by as little as 5 cents per gallon, or as much as 18 cents per gallon of gasoline and 35 cents per gallon of on-road diesel, according to various estimates issued by experts.

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesman Paul Craney applauded Lamont’s decision to ditch the Transportation and Climate Initiative. He also said that Massachusetts should follow suit.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, remains a supporter of the carbon fee on fuel providers. Craney said he shouldn’t be.

“With Gov. Lamont signaling that TCI is dead in Connecticut, this is great news for taxpayers everywhere. It shows that one less state if falling for this regressive gas tax scheme that does not do anything to help the environment and only subsidizes electric vehicles for the affluent,” Craney said in a written statement late Friday.

“With Connecticut departure from the TCI gas tax scheme this year, it should send a wakeup call to Gov. Baker that across the board, taxpayers don’t need another expense in their life,” he added.


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