Gov. Ned Lamont signed a sweeping executive order today that calls for improved energy efficiency and a reduction in the number of miles people drive. But not everyone was happy about it.
“We know this is the crisis of our time and it calls on all of us to get involved and get engaged,” Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said.
Dykes said the executive order Lamont signed moves the state in the right direction.
“Obviously the permanent funding mechanism and the cap on carbon emissions was an element of TCI is not something that we can do without legislation but to the extent that i think the theme here is not meeting our 2030 targets, know there are things the executive branch can do within existing authority,” Dykes said.
The legislature failed to muster enough support for the Transportation Climate Initiative, which would have capped carbon emissions in the transportation sector through what amounted to a gas tax.
“The number one source of pollution right now is our transportation system. Connecticut’s doing really well in terms of the electric system, really well on getting zero carbon on our electric grid over the next 10 to 15 years,” Lamont said.
Lamont said this executive order which takes effect immediately begins to address climate change.
“This is what the market is calling for and our job is to make sure that Connecticut is ready,” he said
Switching to electric vehicles “is going to save middle class drivers a lot of money,” he added.
The 23 actions required by the executive order include a statewide electric bus fleet; a target to reduce how many miles we drive; regulations for emissions from medium and heavy-duty vehicles; and efficiency standards for appliances.
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said the governor’s actions will impact residents’ pocketbooks.
“Aside from the tax dollars that are going to have to go into replacing all our buses with battery operated vehicles, the governor is directing the commissioner to impose efficiency standards on all our consumer goods,” Candelora said.
He says it’s unknown which appliances will fall under the policy.
“We can have leaf blowers and lawn mowers and washing machines being subject to certain efficiency standards that’s going to cost all consumers in the state of Connecticut,” he said.
It will be left to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to decide the appliances.
Environmental advocates cheered the executive order.
“It’s a holistic approach, which is of course how we should address climate change,” Thomas Lefebvre, coordinator for Transit Hartford Academy at the Center for Latino Progress, said.
Lefebvre said it’s a step in the right direction.
“All of this is putting pressure on the legislature to act,” he added.
But that’s not how some lawmakers see it.
“Now we’re seeing the governor attempting to implement environmental policies that were rejected, that environmentalists have been putting pressure on him to try and address,” Candelora said.
“To me he’s just appeasing a group of people and circumventing good government,” he added.
Environment Connecticut State Director Chris Phelps said the legislature needs to take action.
“Unfortunately, Connecticut’s lawmakers have repeatedly failed to give the danger of climate change the attention it requires. They have failed to cap pollution from transportation, failed to commit to 100% clean renewable energy, and put off serious climate action for the future,” Phelps said.
He said Lamont’s executive order has good ideas, but doesn’t go far enough.
“Purchasing clean electricity for state properties and requiring manufacturers to produce more efficient appliances that use less energy are good steps to take. But they represent only a small down payment on the work necessary to win the race to stop climate change,” Phelp said
But it’s the best the state can offer at the moment.
“This executive order is reflecting all of the actions that we can take with the tools that the executive branch has to ensure that we make further progress,” Dykes said.