PRESS RELEASE: Residents Gather to Support Clean Cars and Trucks for Connecticut

The Lamont administration is considering new emissions standards for road vehicles. Today, advocates urged the committee to choose cleaner air.

Hartford — Advocates from across Connecticut joined together with legislators in the Legislative Office Building to call on the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to swiftly adopt stronger standards for clean cars and trucks. If adopted, the new rules would give consumers more opportunities to buy zero-emission vehicles and slash toxic tailpipe pollution that causes lung disease and exacerbates climate change.

State legislators, public health experts, faith leaders, climate advocates and community members traveled from across the state to show their support for cleaner vehicles in Connecticut. DEEP’s consideration period for written comments on the proposed regulations was recently extended through today, August 30th at 5pm.

Connecticut has long been a national leader in the adoption of stronger-than-federal clean car standards. The proposed Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) and Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rules would require automakers to steadily and gradually increase their sales of new electric vehicles, helping households and businesses reduce their dependence on expensive and harmful fossil fuels. Earlier this summer, advocates applauded Governor Lamont and DEEP for announcing that Connecticut would move forward with both life-saving regulations.

The transportation sector is responsible for 40% of emissions in Connecticut. Communities located near major roadways and trucking routes suffer from high exposure to toxic particles in the air that cause asthma, lung disease and cancer. Air pollution is associated with more annual deaths in Connecticut than in any other New England state, and low-income areas and communities of color are disproportionately impacted.

In addition to providing clean air benefits, businesses agree that these programs can unlock long-term savings while spurring the widespread build out of charging infrastructure necessary to meet increased demand for zero-emission vehicles. Recently a coalition of 31 major companies and fleet operators, many of whom have existing operations in Connecticut, sent a letter to Governor Lamont supporting ACCII and ACT and urging the state to adopt them this year.

Pictured: Save the Sound’s Climate and Energy Attorney, Charles Rothenberger (at microphone), with state legislators and advocates speak at Wednesday morning’s press conference.

In advance of the deadline for written comments on the proposed standards, Connecticut state legislators and clean air advocates released the following statements:

“The overwhelming majority of scientists agree – climate change is happening, it’s a serious threat and our greenhouse gas emissions play a large contributing factor,” said State Senator Christine Cohen, who represents Connecticut’s 12th District and co-chairs the Transportation Committee “We have to rise above the partisan fray and come together to create solutions. Governor Lamont’s proposals to bring us in line with stricter emission standards and lean in on EV sales is exactly the next step we need to take, and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues in the legislature to build upon Connecticut’s strict environmental protections to secure a cleaner, greener future.”

“When smog clogs the air of our major cities, wildfire smoke streams south from Canada and our state continues to experience weather extremes causing damage and devastation, it cannot be clearer that we must take action toward a cleaner future,” said Dr. Saud Anwar, a physician and a state senator who represents Connecticut’s 3rd District and co-chairs the Public Health Committee. “Electric vehicles will help us get there – and when we’re already seeing the impacts that will only increase in the future, we must redouble our efforts to fight for our future generations.”

“There’s no stopping the EV revolution. Advances in the next several years will dwarf the progress made in the past five, as every major manufacturer devotes resources and innovation to drive down costs, increase range, and reduce charging times,” said State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, who represents Connecticut’s 136th district, and co-chairs the Energy & Technology Committee. “By the time these rules go into effect, EVs will be the dominant, cost-effective automotive technology in general use and we’ll have a robust and reliable national charging network. Which is all to the good as we seek to achieve our Zero Carbon goals. Our biggest challenge will be to grow the renewable energy sources needed to fuel this transition.”

“Look no further than the summer we just experienced to know that we are in a crisis that is rapidly accelerating,” said State Representative Eleni Kavros DeGraw, who represents Connecticut’s 17th District and co-chairs the Planning & Development Committee. “We cannot allow outdated talking points provided by oil companies and promoted by certain media outlets to prevent the necessary progress of building out infrastructure to support EVs.”

“We’ll never be able to look our grandchildren in the eyes if we don’t do everything we can now to make their future sustainable,” said Representative Christine Palm, who represents Connecticut’s 36th District and is vice chair of the Environment Committee. “The technology for electric cars had its prototype in 1830 — and now, nearly 200 years later — the naysayers are saying the technology isn’t there yet? It’s been clear since at least the 1970s — which President Nixon ushered in as the “environmental era” when he created the EPA — that airborne particulate carbon is a serious problem. If they’re so opposed to electric vehicles, what have they been doing for the past 53 years to solve the problem? It’s high time to be part of the solution or step aside.”

“The science is clear: poor air quality has profound effects on the respiratory health of children. Infants, children with asthma, and those living near major roadways are particularly at risk for such breathing problems.” said Dr. Sanjiv Godse, a Pediatric Pulmonology Fellow and the Chair of the Connecticut Health Professionals for Climate Action. “This summer, marked by historic flooding, wildfires, and extreme heat is only a preview of what our future will look like if we don’t take swift action today. Decarbonizing our transportation sector is a win for the health of our children and the health of our planet.”

“As a business at the forefront of e-mobility solutions, we see firsthand that technology and market demand are ready to support the transition to clean vehicles,” said Ryan Dalton, Siemens Head of External Affairs and Policy—Northeast/Mid-Atlantic. “Strong state standards that set clear expectations for market growth over the coming years are key to managing the transition and meeting escalating consumer demand. We applaud Governor Lamont and Commissioner Dykes for their support of the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules because it is the best way to attract investment and provide predictability for manufacturers, companies, workforces, and consumers alike.”

“From an environmental justice point of view, adopting strong clean cars and clean truck rules are critically important,” said Dr. Mark Mitchell, Founder and Senior Policy Advisor of the Connecticut Coalition for Economic and Environmental Justice. “My neighborhood, for example, is one of the lowest wealth neighborhoods in the State of Connecticut. Almost half of the households here do not have automobiles, yet we have some of the highest traffic-related air pollution in the state due to the proximity to highways and the heavy traffic from suburbanites and others who work in nearby businesses. We need these drivers to switch to electric vehicles in order to reduce the high pollution and asthma rates in our neighborhood. In addition, we need clean trucks, buses, and fleets, as well as additional state incentives to enable lower-income residents to purchase new and used EVs.”

“Now is the time for Connecticut to continue its legacy of strong action for clean air,” said Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter Director Samantha Dynowski. “Several of our neighbors across New England have, for good reason, already adopted ACCII and ACT standards. If Connecticut fails to do the same, not only will our air remain heavily polluted by dangerous tailpipe emissions but our economy will grow more dependent on costly, volatile gas prices. Connecticut residents deserve the chance to access the safest, most cost-efficient vehicles for their families and the cleaner air EVs provide.”

“Two decades ago, Connecticut became a leader on clean transportation by adopting the Clean Cars I standards,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney at Save the Sound. “These updated regulations reflect the evolution of clean vehicle technology and build on Connecticut’s long-standing commitment to reducing the harmful effects of motor vehicle pollution on our residents and addressing climate change. Approval of these standards, which have already been adopted by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Jersey and other states across the country, will ensure more rapid reductions in polluting emissions from conventional vehicles, as well as ensuring that zero-emissions vehicles will be available for sale and use in our state and that our citizens will share in the benefits of reduced emissions and cleaner air.”

“Connecticut residents across the state—especially our younger citizens—are frustrated with our lack of action on climate. Opponents of stronger vehicle emission standards are not serving the needs of Connecticut residents, but are simply propping up the oil industry so that we continue to rely on their polluting product: gasoline,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of the CT League of Conservation Voters. “We are calling on all our state lawmakers to step up and be counted in support of clean air, improved public health, and strong action on climate.”

“The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut strongly supports federal and state efforts to adopt clean, affordable, and equitable transportation policies. Last year we strongly supported the passage of PA 22-25, which was a critical step towards reducing Connecticut’s transportation emissions and gave the state authority to adopt California’s emission standards,” said Nathan Frohling, Director of External Affairs, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut. “The Advanced Clean Truck rule and the Advanced Clean Car II rule will accelerate the necessary, large-scale transition to zero-emission vehicles across the state. Such a step is critical towards lowering Connecticut’s transportation emissions.”

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