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CBIA board member says he’s trying to influence CT’s largest business association to support regional gasoline tax

A member of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association’s Board of Directors says he is trying to use his position to steer the state’s largest business association toward supporting the Transportation and Climate Initiative.

Kevin Grigg, CEO of Fuss & O’Neil, an environmental engineering firm based in Manchester, serves on both CBIA’s Board of Directors’ Executive Committee and the Governor’s Council on Climate Change.

Grigg said he believes CBIA is becoming more “open-minded” as new, young business owners join the organization and he is using his influence to steer members toward supporting the TCI program during a September 21 meeting of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change.

“As [DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes] knows, I’ve been trying with limited success to use my position with the CBIA to influence members of that organization to get behind and support the Transportation and Climate Initiative so that attitudes can begin to change in the positive sense in that organization over time,” Grigg said.

“For those of you who may be familiar with CBIA, its reputation tended to be more conservative and therefore a little less supportive of initiatives like the Transportation and Climate Initiative,” Grigg continued. “But our membership has been changing, we’re getting younger individuals on both the board and executive committee and I think becoming – slowly, of course – more open-minded toward supporting these kind of crucial environmental initiatives.”

The CBIA has not taken a position on the TCI program.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative program would place a declining cap on emissions generated by gasoline and diesel fuel and require gasoline producers and distributors to purchase emission credits at auction in order to sell fuel in Connecticut.

The revenue from those auctions – estimated at roughly $100 million per year – would be funneled to state government for investment in electric vehicles, EV charging infrastructure, public transportation and climate justice initiatives in cities.

However, the auctions would result in higher gasoline prices at the pump as fuel suppliers pass on the costs to consumers, prompting critics to label the program as another gasoline tax that drivers would have to pay at a time when the price of everything, including gasoline, has risen dramatically.

Grigg’s company has offices throughout the Northeast and in California, according to Fuss & O’Neil’s website, and has performed planning and engineering services for numerous projects, including the Beehive Bridge in New Britain, PFAS chemical testing in Meriden, electric bus charging stations in Rhode Island and the Block Island Wind Farm.

Fuss & O’Neil has received more than $10 million in taxpayer money from the State of Connecticut since 2018, mostly for engineering and architectural services and work on government buildings, according to Connecticut’s Open Checkbook website.

The Dept. of Transportation – which is also pushing for the Transportation and Climate Initiative program – paid Fuss & O’Neil $1.14 million in 2021 for highway planning and construction and federal transit formula grants.

A majority of the payments were made from the state’s Transportation Grants & Restricted Funds account, the same account that would receive TCI auction revenue if Connecticut lawmakers vote to pass the climate program.

Connecticut was one of only three states that signed onto the TCI program’s final memorandum of understanding. Although envisioned as a regional initiative encompassing 12 states and Washington D.C., only Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington D.C. have committed to the cap and invest program.

However, neither Connecticut nor Rhode Island passed legislation authorizing participation in the program during their 2021 legislative sessions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker was able to unilaterally sign onto the program, but the issue may face a ballot initiative in November.

Advocates for the TCI program in Connecticut have been pushing for a special session vote on the matter, but Lamont and Senate President Pro-Tem Martin Looney said they will likely wait until the 2022 legislative session to reconsider the issue.

Proponents, including Lamont and Dykes, say the program is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and ensure Connecticut meets its statutory emission reduction goals.

**Meghan Portfolio contributed to this article**

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]

3 Comments

  1. Free Market Filly
    September 28, 2021 @ 3:27 pm

    I would ask kevin Grigg how much he earns annually. i would also ask him how he thinks those who earn 25% of what he makes will be able to afford higher gasoline taxes. We already pay some of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation. we are already seeing gasoline and home heating oil prices rise due to government policies causing inflation. people who must commute to work will be very hard hit. is this an intended or unintended consequence of his policy push?

    Reply

  2. Bill Finch
    October 5, 2021 @ 3:13 pm

    You should mention that the TCI is a market-based approach just like the very successful rggi (regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative passed under governor rell). Yankee institute has supported market-based approaches to solving problems in the past. This is a Cap and Trade plan just as proposed by the first President bush. it uses market forces to internalize the externalities we know as pollution. I am sure you would agree that the market cannot work if goods are given away for free. currently the right to pollute the air and cook the planet is given away free as those who sell the polluting products profit. tci will not alone solve the climate crisis but it will help. there is too much partisanship around this and perhaps your further telling of this story could bring people together.

    Reply

  3. David Chu
    November 16, 2021 @ 12:39 pm

    Mr. Finch, TCI is very different from RGGI. 1] Utilities under RGGI have the option to buy non-CO2 emitting sources of energy (i.e. renewables) to power their plants. A gasoline dealer doesn’t have this option and so the only way to reduce emissions is to sell less product – 30% less in this case. A 30% decrease in supply with little decrease in demand will inflate prices, blowing through artificial price caps set by TCI auctions. 2] Utilities are monopolies in their protected markets bidding for emission allowances against other non-competing monopolies. Their RGGI auctions are routine, tame affairs. gasoline distributors are fierce competitors, and will try to drive competitors out of business by cornering the market on TCI auction allowances, either refusing to sell to competitors to drive them out of business, or marking up the price on secondary markets far beyond auction caps. Also 3rd party environmental groups can buy up the supply, refusing to sell them to gasoline dealers to drive them out of business as well. 3] TCI isn’t a market-based approach since government artificially restricts supply. In a true market based approach, both supply and demand are allowed to float freely with the price settling at an equilibrium point. 4] Bush’s cap and trade was directed at utilities to reduce sulfur emissions; it was never intended to eliminate gasoline use in America; and as seen above, a RGGI auction model is inappropriate for TCI. Overall, TCI auctions will restrict the supply of gasoline, drive gas stations out of business, or force them to shut down pumps, and drive up gas prices beyond the control of TCI auctions. Consumers are the ultimate victims in all of this. And none of this can happen under RGGI since utilities are protected under RGGI from going out of business and not getting the fuel needed to keep the lights on. There are no protections for gas stations.

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