Image of Chris Herb, President of the Connecticut Marketers Association (CEMA)

While holding a press conference in front of an electric school bus on March 17, Gov. Ned Lamont said what we have said all along — the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI, will create another tax on gasoline.

Gov. Lamont called it a “small tax on carbon.” We’ve called it a gas tax, a sin tax, but a carbon tax works, too. No matter what you call it, the truth remains the same: People will be paying more for gasoline because of TCI.

The administration claims TCI is a climate initiative which would add a 5 cents-per-gallon increase to the price of gasoline with the notion that the money collected would help to decrease emissions, and build more infrastructure and charging stations for electric vehicles. The plan is complicated but that’s the bare bones behind it. At Wednesday’s press conference Lamont said this about TCI: “A small tax on carbon — and its capped at 5 cents — and all the nonsense that you’ve heard; this can make a tremendous difference.”

We agree with the Governor; five cents-per gallon can make a tremendous difference in the bottom-line for families already struggling to make ends meet.

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that the average person drives around 13,500 miles every year. If the average car gets 25 miles per gallon of gas, at five cents-per-gallon, that would equal $270 per year for the average Connecticut family. That would buy about 75 gallons of milk, 150 loaves of bread, and 123 dozen eggs. The list goes on and on but you get the picture. The fact that supporters of TCI call this a small fee shows they are out-of-touch with reality. And numbers this month released by TCI show that it could cost more than 27 cents per gallon.

This “climate plan” is nothing more than a money grab by the state that would generate close to one billion dollars over the years for Connecticut. That’s right, one with a B! (This is the administration’s estimate, not ours.) This obviously comes at a huge expense to the hard-working people of the state.

When it comes to TCI, the fact remains that we don’t need the Governor’s carbon tax to curb emissions. How do we know this? TCI said so. That’s right, TCI just released new numbers stating that emissions would decrease by 18.8% to 25.7% without TCI.

The million-dollar question is do we really want to give utilities more control of our lives and livelihoods? We saw what happened in Texas. We lived through what’s happened here in Connecticut last summer and too many times to count before that. Let’s not forget those skyrocketing electric bills that had so many people up in arms just last summer and then again in January. Do we really want to give more power to electric company’s? What happens if — and when — we lose power again? What happens if we can’t charge our electric vehicles to leave town to avoid a storm or to keep us warm during a winter storm like we just saw in Texas? What then? And you think our electric bills are high now, just wait.

We could give you so many other reasons why TCI just doesn’t make sense including the fact that it would create Connecticut’s 4th gasoline tax in a state that already pays the highest gasoline tax in New England. If we want to combat climate change TCI is not the way to do it. It’s a regressive tax that will hurt low-and middle-income families while bankrolling the way for the rich to drive their electric vehicles. If we really want to combat climate change, we need to look for other ways to do so. For example, we support stricter federal fuel mileage efficiency standards that increase how far your car can go with less fuel.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu stated that “I will not force Granite Staters to pay more for their gas just to subsidize other states’ crumbling infrastructure” so we are urging state lawmakers to follow his lead and that of other states like New York, Pennsylvania, and seven others that decided to spare drivers from the TCI tax on gasoline. There is a better way than making people pay more at the pumps.

Chris Herb is President of the Connecticut Marketers Association (CEMA), whose members operate and distribute gasoline to 1,000 convenience stores and gas stations around Connecticut. CEMA has in the past been an advertising sponsor of this website.

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