Posted on November 27, 2023
On the eve of the Regulations Review Committee’s vote on whether to ban the sale of gasoline powered vehicles, I wanted to expound upon the informational posts I’ve been putting out.
Earlier this year, Governor Lamont and his designees signaled that they would support a ban on the sale of all new gasoline powered cars and trucks, effective 2035. This journey of bad policy began with the 2004’s legislature, which then voted to adopt California’s emission standards for light duty vehicles. In 2022, the CT State Legislature voted on party lines to adopt California’s emission standards for medium & heavy-duty trucks- or more accurately- authorized DEEP to adopt California’s standards.
At the time, it’s unlikely that the legislative members foresaw that California might eliminate gasoline power cars altogether. This is another lesson of unintended consequences brought to you by your legislators who often feel that “we have to do something” about the issue of the day. But I digress. Here we are with an impending ban on the sale of gasoline powered cars. Below is my reasoning behind my opposition to the ban, some technical and procedural items that affect policy, and also some of the arguments for the ban.
The process: The Regulations Review Committee is made up of 7 Democrat and 7 Republican legislators. There are 3 possible outcomes from tomorrow’s meeting:
- Motion To Approve: If a majority of the committee vote to approve, this irresponsible policy will proceed. Republicans have been vocal in their opposition to this policy, but Democrats on the committee have been noticeably quiet.
- Deemed Approved: One would think that if the committee is deadlocked on this topic, the measure wouldn’t pass, but if a deadlock occurs, the rule will be “deemed approved” and DEEP can continue with this highly irresponsible shift in policy.
- Motion To Disapprove: If a majority of the committee votes against the policy, the regulation can then be sent to the entire legislature to determine how the policy should look going forward.
Below are just some of the reasons why I oppose this major shift in policy:
- Outsourcing our legislation: We don’t have any representation in California. Nobody here elected the California Governor, or any members of their legislature or congressional body. These decisions should be debated and voted on by the CT legislature. I’d like to see every member of our legislature go on the record as to supporting or opposing these regulations.
- Technology: The current battery technology is practical only for someone who drives a passenger car and travels short distances. The weight and battery storage capability make them currently unreliable for long distances. Any claim that a battery powered vehicle is practical for trucks, buses or other large vehicles is really stretching it. EV trucks are too heavy, can’t travel long distances without being charged frequently, cost 2-4x what a diesel truck costs, and have a power charging requirements equivalent to powering more than 400 homes.
- Damage to Roads: When the Governor and his allies were touting the truck tax last year, part of the argument was the extra wear and tear the trucks put on our roads. I would ask what the plan is to repair our roads, if the weight of an EV is significantly heavier than a gas-powered vehicle? Electric trucks weigh 10% more than diesel powered trucks, thus the cargo load will have to be reduced by 10%. If I apply the same logic that Governor Lamont did for trucks, we should have a plan to deal with the added costs to repair our roads.
- Supply/ Grid: Our electrical grid, in its current state, is not capable of supplying the amount of power needed to support a shift to EVs. We have a grid that is susceptible to outages when we experience storms. In a situation where we would be dependent on electricity for transportation during a major power outage, thousands of residents could end up stranded. It’s not like you can stock up on car batteries like you might stock up with a few cans of gasoline. Additionally, Connecticut can’t get out of its own way when discussing alternative sources of energy. Nuclear, and Hydro energy are more reliable and cheaper sources of energy than solar and wind, yet there is no discussion of this in the Governor’s plan.
- Vehicle Cost: The cost to purchase an EV is significantly more expensive than a gas-powered vehicle, and that’s with subsidies. If you take away the subsidy, the cost is even more prohibitive. When you combine the cost of the vehicles with Connecticut’s high energy prices, we have a recipe for an even more expensive transportation model. Mandating the purchase of EVs will likely price lower to middle income folks right out of the car market. Also, the cost of a replacement battery can be in the range of $15000-$25000. How can a lower income family spend this much on a vehicle?
- Lost Revenue: The Governor’s proposal doesn’t mention any plan to make up for lost revenue from our gasoline tax. It’s estimated that $500 million per year will be lost. Where will that money come from?
- Damage to the environment: It is well documented that the mining of these rare minerals is damaging to the environment, on top of using exploited labor in some cases. There are challenges with the storage and disposal of these batteries as well. What is Connecticut’s plan to address these concerns?
It is not the role of a legislator to propose a solution for all the objections I raised earlier in this piece. It is my role to say “not so fast” to our bureaucrats and our heavy-handed government. Solutions are best left to the private sector. There are few out there who argue that the government is innovative. There is little to no competition in government, whereas the private sector is hardened by competition at every level. Competition forces innovation in the private sector.
When the market is ready to meet the demand, technology, power delivery AND when customer demand is in place, there will be no need to force or subsidize electric vehicles. When they are truly ready to compete in terms of longevity, cost, efficiency, reliability and range, people will line up to buy them without any force or incentive.
Let’s hope some Democrats on the committee have an epiphany tomorrow and choose to listen to the vast majority of their constituents. I think we should all be asking the same questions and raising objections to major shifts in policy. Blindly following regulations from 3000 miles away is no way for lawmakers to make policy that is good for the residents of Connecticut.