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Environmental group hires more lobbyists for September as push for Transportation and Climate Initiative intensifies

Save the Sound, one of Connecticut’s environmental advocacy groups pushing hard for the Transportation and Climate Initiative program, is ramping up their lobbying efforts in September, according to filings with the Office of State Ethics.

Save the Sound has so far spent over $100,000 on lobbying for the year and has now hired two more lobbying firms at a cost of $21,500 for roughly a month and a half of work, including Roy Occhiogrosso, former senior advisor to Gov. Dannel Malloy.

Environmental and activist groups are advocating for a special session to pass legislation enabling Connecticut to participate in the TCI program, which was not taken up by the General Assembly during the 2021 session.

The TCI program would place a declining cap on emissions and require gasoline wholesalers and distributors to purchase emission credits at auction. The money would then be funneled to the state of Connecticut to invest in electric vehicles, electric vehicle infrastructure, public transportation and climate justice initiatives in cities.

Opponents argue the program will cause a rise in gasoline prices, effectively making it another tax on Connecticut drivers who already pay the highest gasoline taxes in New England.

Save the Sound’s recent lobbyist contracts and advertising efforts indicate they are making a push for more public support by contracting with Innovate & Organize, LLC, a firm that lists grass-roots organizing as one of its specialties.

According to the filings, Innovate & Organize will receive $9,000 for the month of September to generate mailers and conduct phone solicitations regarding the environment and transportation.

Occhiogrosso, who was part of Gov. Lamont’s unsuccessful push to establish electronic tolls on Connecticut’s highways, is receiving $12,500 to lobby the governor and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Occhiogrosso helped author a playbook for pitching tolls to lawmakers and the public.

Hiring extra lobbyists for the environmental group constitutes a rather large expenditure. The total cost for Occhiogrosso and Innovate & Organize for roughly one month of work totals $21,500, the same amount Save the Sound paid their normal contract lobbyist for nine months of work during 2021.

The spend comes during a time when the legislature is not in session but will likely reconvene to at least vote on whether or not to extend Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers at the end of September.

Save the Sound has also been advertising heavily for TCI on the internet, directing users to a website called CT’s Transportation Future, touting the benefits of the TCI program and allowing users to directly email a message to their legislator and listing the phone numbers for Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Save the Sound was not alone in lobbying for the TCI program during 2021 and lists many of their supportive partners on the CT’s Transportation Future website, including the Acadia Center, which has spent $11,162.88 for the year.

Not included in the coalition, however, was BP America which ran extensive media ads supporting the TCI program.

Over the course of 2021 so far, BP spent $368,565.42 on lobbying, with most of those funds — $285,359.05 – being spent during the second quarter of 2021 on paid media communication. BP America has not yet listed any spending for the summer months.

Gov. Lamont is also stepping up his efforts, along with DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, after they announced that Connecticut’s emissions increased slightly during 2018, according to DEEP’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report.

In 2008, the Connecticut legislature established emissions reduction goals, including lowering emissions to 10 percent lower than 1990 emission levels by 2020.

According to the report, vehicle fuel efficiency has increased but so has the number of miles people are driving. As of 2018, emissions in Connecticut are 7.1 percent lower than in 1990, and the report largely blames the transportation sector for the 2.7 percent uptick in greenhouse gas emissions between 2017 and 2018.

Lamont, Dykes and environmental groups see the TCI program as a way to lower emissions in the state through using emission credit auctions to pay for more electric vehicles and other mitigation strategies to reduce air pollution.

Although TCI says its program will lower emissions by 26 percent over ten years, the organization also acknowledges that emissions will decline “naturally” by 24-25 percent during that same time frame as vehicles become more efficient.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Republicans have been holding public rallies around the state protesting the “TCI gas tax,” the most recent taking place in Stratford.

A recent poll released by the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association found that the vast majority of polled Connecticut residents were unhappy with the current price of gasoline and Connecticut’s gasoline taxes and opposed any increase to those prices through the imposition of the TCI program.

“The results of this poll overwhelmingly demonstrate that Connecticut residents are unwilling to tolerate TCI and the cost impact it will have on what are already the highest gasoline taxes in New England,” said Chris Herb, executive director of CEMA. “Why should low-income residents be assessed new taxes and fees to fund expensive Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations for the wealth residents to use?”

Although the push for TCI is experiencing renewed vigor in Connecticut, the program has suffered some setbacks: the program was originally envisioned as a regional compact between 12 states and Washington D.C. but thus far only Massachusetts and Washington D.C. have actually approved the cap and trade system.

Rhode Island and Connecticut committed to the program but require legislative approval and there has yet to be a vote in either state.

There is also an effort underway in Massachusetts to put TCI on the ballot for the November 2022 election which, if successful, could force a rollback of TCI in that state.

Marc E. Fitch

Marc E. Fitch is the author of several books and novels including Shmexperts: How Power Politics and Ideology are Disguised as Science and Paranormal Nation: Why America Needs Ghosts, UFOs and Bigfoot. Marc was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and his work has appeared in The Federalist, American Thinker, The Skeptical Inquirer, World Net Daily and Real Clear Policy. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University. Marc can be reached at [email protected]

6 Comments

  1. James Vansicklin
    September 10, 2021 @ 11:12 am

    This is ABSOLUTELY BULLSHIT FROM THE LIBETARD DEMORAT’S to grab more taxes WE WILL NOT DO THIS WAKE up CT!!!!!!

    Reply

  2. George
    September 10, 2021 @ 12:23 pm

    Where are the lobby groups, politicians, that are against this? you making us award but never tell us what is being done to resist this?

    Reply

  3. Thad M Stewart
    September 10, 2021 @ 3:34 pm

    Wanna be tyrant lamont has done nothing but raise taxes on the middle class since he took office. We, the taxpayers of this state need to remember this next november and get rid of the communist sympathizer and deloro, blumenthal, and murphy. otherwise it shows that my neighbors enjoy paying more to a gubment that does nothing in return for them. sad.

    Reply

  4. Joyce Wojtas
    September 12, 2021 @ 6:29 pm

    In a Capitalist system, taxpayers should not have to pay for the electric infrastructure necessary to recharge these vehicles. INVESTORS IN ELECTRIC CHARGING STATIONS, PUSHING FOR ELIMINATION OF THE GASOLINE ENGINE, SHOULD PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS, AND PUT UP THE $$$$$$ NEEDED AND TAKE THE RISKS, LIKE BIG OIL INVESTORS DID MANY YEARS AGO. MANY ADVANCES HAVE BEEN MADE IN THE LAST DECADEC TO REDUCE AUTO EMISSIONS, INCLUDING ENERGY EFTICIENT GASOLINE ENGINES, HYBRID (GAS/ELECTRIC) ENGINES THAT HAVE ONBOARD CHARGING AND ALL ELECTRIC VEHICLES. INCREASING COSTS FOR HARD WORKING AMERICANS WILL RESULT IN BREAKING THE BACKS OF THE PEOPLE, DEPRIVING THEM OF THEIR JOBS, AND SENDING SKILL BASED JOBS TO CHINA. AS IN THE PAST, THE MARKET, WITH THE ELITE INVESTORS, ETAL, WILL ACCOMPLISH THE GOAL OF REDUCED EMISSIONS. CLIMATE WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE AS IT HAS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME AND HARD WORKING PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO LIVE THEIR LIVES WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT HOW THEY WILL FEED THEIR FAMILIES.
    VOTE NO ON TCI! GIVE PEOPLE SOME PEACE OF MIND!!!!!!

    Reply

  5. Dee Wall
    September 24, 2021 @ 10:52 am

    I appreciate that there is a desire for a cleaner environment. However, while electric vehicles might be cleaner on the front- end, regarding emissions they are just as dirty as gas powered vehicles on the back end. Energy is needed to power them, and it is unrealistic for solar or wind to be able to produce the energy needed to power them and all the technology that is utilized in the United States. Therefore, we will need to use gas and oil to produce the electricity to power the batteries of these vehicles.
    cThe batteries require mining of rare earth minerals and Lithium which, can be found in abundance in Afghanistan. Electric vehicles mandates are a give away to China because these batteries are not produced in the United States nor do we have companies that are making the battery products.
    The batteries are exceptionally toxic once they are at end of life and there is no method that the state has outlined to sustainably recycle them. Furthermore, they are produced with obsolesence in mind and stop working long before a gas powered vehicle come to end of life. When the power grid is down then they cannot be used and transport will shutdown These batteries are expensive to replace and electric vehicles provide control of the individual since they are essentially driving computers and are hackable.
    (Please note for whatever reason this is typeing in caps- I am not yelling)

    Reply

  6. Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh
    November 3, 2021 @ 10:39 am

    These are Foreign Treaties and illegal.

    Reply

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