House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora Credit: Hugh McQuaid / CTNewsJunkie

At the end of August, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora sent a letter to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont asking him how Connecticut plans to handle California’s ban on the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035. 

In the letter, Candelora pointed to a piece of legislation which requires Connecticut to follow suit. 

Candelora got no response. 

Then just a few weeks ago Candelora went on the Chaz & AJ Show on WPLR and mentioned the new law that will require Connecticut to adopt similar regulations for medium and heavy-duty motor vehicles. State law already requires the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to adopt regulations implementing California’s emissions standards for light-duty motor vehicles, such as passenger cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks.

The law, according to legislative analysts, requires the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to adopt California’s regulations and amend them whenever California standards change. 

Last week, Lamont in a separate appearance on the radio show was confronted about the law. 

“First of all we’re not locked into doing anything, so I don’t know where that comes from,” Lamont said. “California did say that by 2035 – what is that 12 years away – that they’ll have no more sales of gas powered cars in California. And a number of other states are doing that in the northwest. I talked to Ford. I said ‘is this something that’s unrealistic and we’ll screw the consumer,’ and they said we’re headed that direction anyway so I appreciate the clarity that’s come out of that. So we’ll take a look at it. No decisions have been made as yet.” 

Asked if there were any laws on the books tying us to California, Lamont said “no.” 

Candelora said the governor is lying about the existence of a law that ties Connecticut to California. 

“I take issue with him calling me a liar,” Candelora said. “The governor has a lack of understanding of our statutes.”

He said this is a governor who continues to govern “with superficial press conferences and press releases and he needs to provide substance to back up what he says.” 

A spokesman for Lamont’s office sought to clarify the governor’s remarks. 

“One of the most impactful pieces of the law allows Connecticut’s commissioner of DEEP to adopt California’s stringent emission standards. However, Commissioner [Katie] Dykes is not required to do so now, giving the state and our legislature the flexibility to do what’s in the best short- and long-term interest of families and businesses,” Lamont spokesman Anthony Anthony said in an emailed statement. 

Candelora said the fact that it simply has to go through the regulations review process is a formality. 

“At some point this governor needs to be held accountable,” Candelora said. 

Candelora said the governor’s “retroactive justification of his misstatements to the public is self serving.” 

In addition to setting new emission standards for the state, the law, which went into effect this July, establishes several new programs and initiatives concerning electric vehicle use. It also requires that all school buses be zero-emission school buses by January 1, 2030.