Gov. Ned Lamont today signed onto a regional cap and invest program called the Transportation and Climate Initiative that will raise the price of gasoline by upwards of 17 cents per gallon.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker sent out a press release of the final Memorandum of Understanding between TCI and other Northeastern states including Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“Participating in the TCI-P will help grow our economy through a fresh injection of capital to provide for jobs and new infrastructure,” Lamont said in the press release. “This collaboration will cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and it will make our urban centers healthier, after decades of being adversely impacted by the emissions being released by traffic every day. Connecticut has always taken pride in our leadership role when it comes to climate, and when we can combine that with a stronger economy, fast transit systems, and regional cooperation, that’s a win for all of us.”
Gov. Dannel Malloy originally signed on to the plan, but Gov. Ned Lamont has wavered on saying whether or not Connecticut would continue its commitment.
Lamont had also said he would leave it to the legislature to decide whether or not to commit to the regional initiative as Malloy did with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Republican House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said the TCI proposal “will have to come to the legislature.”
“Gov. Lamont can sign on in concept but the details will have to come before the legislature,” Candelora said. “I’d hate to see the legislature defer any of its taxing authority to a regional entity.”
The TCI plan would place a cap on emissions for gasoline producers and distributors, requiring them to purchase carbon allowances. The funds generated – estimated by TCI to be upwards of $7 billion per year – would then be distributed to participating states to invest in electric cars, buses, bike paths and “climate justice” initiatives.
However, the gasoline producers and distributors would likely pass the additional costs onto drivers, increasing the price at the pump by upwards of 17 cents in the first year alone, according to TCI.
The cap on emissions would be lowered annually, thereby increasing the cost to drivers on a yearly basis.
TCI says the cap and invest system will create jobs and reduce pollution-related illness in affected populations, resulting in $10 billion worth of public health benefits.
Critics, on the other hand, liken the policy to a regional gasoline tax and say that it will hurt working families trying to earn a living commuting to work, particularly in light of the economic suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“TCI is just another gas tax that will disproportionally hurt low and middle-income families who cannot afford an electric vehicle,” said Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association.
“It is sad that Connecticut would even consider increasing the cost of driving to work, bringing their children to school, and going to church only to advantage people who can already afford to buy an EV,” Herb continued.