Connecticut is at a crossroads. Pollution from transportation is wreaking havoc on the health of the state I’ve called home for most of my life.
Cars, trucks, and other vehicles are responsible for 40% of our state’s climate pollution and 70% of nitrogen oxides, which lead to smog. That’s meant poor air quality, more heart disease, worsened respiratory illnesses and even early death. In short, pollution from transportation is making us sick.
But now we have a chance to change all that.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has a plan to pass new clean vehicle rules that are good for people and the planet. They go by technical-sounding names — Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC2) and Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) — but more simply, enactment of these rules will mean cleaner cars and trucks for a healthier future.
Both regulations set targets for manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission vehicles. But more broadly, they will help create thoughtful, wide-ranging solutions to the problem of transportation pollution. One rule sets gradually increasing targets for passenger vehicles, culminating in 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. The other does the same for trucks and buses, culminating in up to 75% of zero-emission sales by the same year.
These new standards bring major economic benefits for our state as well. Not only will they add $5 billion to Connecticut’s economy in the decades ahead, but drivers will see more money in their pockets. Multiple studies show that the price of zero-emission vehicles will be about the same as gas and diesel options in the next few years, even without the existing state and federal incentives. Then there’s the significant savings on fuel and maintenance, amounting to thousands of dollars for EV drivers.
Across America, the shift to clean vehicles is ramping up quickly. There are now more than 136 models of zero-emission cars and trucks on the market in the United States from 41 manufacturers. And those numbers are poised to grow fast. GM alone plans to offer 20 light-duty battery electric vehicle models in 2025 and truck manufacturers like Daimler and Volvo plan to significantly increase sales of zero-emission vehicles in North America. This growth, along with a growing emphasis on build-out of charging and fueling stations, means that these new rules have arrived at exactly the right moment.
Perhaps most importantly, fleets and residential customers have demonstrated an appetite for these vehicles, with significant year-over-year growth in demand. But Connecticut is much more likely to keep up this momentum if we encourage manufacturers to offer more and better products – which is exactly what these rules are designed to do.
Passage of these critically important clean vehicle standards will soon be in the hands of the bipartisan Regulations Review Committee. They should support the forward momentum that Gov. Ned Lamont, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the legislature have already put in place. At this critical moment, the committee has the chance to do what is right for the environment, the health of its citizens and our economy — and avoid falling behind the growing number of states that are moving to build a cleaner future for themselves.
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Fred Krupp is president of Environmental Defense Fund and a resident of Norwalk.