Fuel nozzle and electric car charger plug. EV vs gasoline concept.
Credit: algre / Shutterstock

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Such might be the case with a new regulation proposed in July by the Lamont administration to phase out the internal combustion engine by 2035, when only electric vehicles will be sold in Connecticut.

On one level, this proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise. It was modeled after similar legislation, passed in Hartford with near-unanimity nearly 20 years ago, adopting California’s standards for light-duty vehicles. A law signed last year created similar regulations for heavier-duty vehicles, also modeled after California’s emissions standards.

The goal is laudable – indeed, urgent: Connecticut, along with nearby states that have adopted similar rules, will do its part to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Electric vehicles themselves are orders of magnitude cleaner than gasoline – and diesel-powered cars and trucks.

Many Republicans in the General Assembly support the goals of the proposal but are skeptical about whether middle-class families can afford the more expensive electric vehicles and whether the state has the infrastructure to support the energy needs of that many EVs.

I share the Republicans’ concerns, though I do think it’s fair to ask where they have been since 2004 when the initial legislation passed 150-1 in the House and 36-0 in the Senate. It may be that 2035 seemed like a long way away and the idea more palatable.

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That said, I share the GOP concerns about the electrical grid. It seems that every summer we are warned by the state’s two dominant electrical utilities about the possibility of rolling blackouts in the event of a prolonged heat wave. Without significant investment in new energy sources, how can those companies meet the needs of an all-electric vehicle fleet?

“For instance, a 10-truck fleet uses the same amount of electricity as 1,000 homes. So what’s the plan? Do we have one?” asked State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford. “If we do, I’d like to see it, I’d like to hear it.”

If Connecticut and other states are going all-electric, where is the additional power going to come from? Currently, natural-gas-fired plants supply 55% of Connecticut’s electricity, with the Millstone nuclear plant providing 38%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. EV advocates typically want to phase out the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity, and they’re often hostile to nuclear.

But with an all-electric vehicle fleet, we’re going to need a lot more power. Nuclear power isn’t perfect, but it’s carbon-free and, unlike renewables, it’s a 24-hour workhorse capable of powering our economy even when the winds are calm and the sun isn’t shining. We need more nuclear as we make this transition, not less.

‘Patriot’ Front Is Anything But

I was quite disturbed to see this week that the Patriot Front, a rather virulent white nationalist hate group, had recently posted placards in Litchfield County – and in a town where I worked for five years, no less.

That this vile collection of anti-semitic misfits has a presence in Connecticut is no secret. The Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut recorded 207 white supremacist propaganda distribution incidents in 2022, a 115% increase over such events during the previous year. The Texas-based Patriot Front was responsible for 80% of the incidents. 

In June 2023 alone, incidents have been observed in several locations, including not only Winsted, but the group claims to have posted such material in 22 towns and cities across the state so far this year.

As the quasi-separatist group proclaims on its homepage, Patriot Front longs for the so-called good old days when white people ruled America, unimpeded by the colored masses trying to steal Caucasian prosperity: “Our people, born to this nation of our European race, must reforge themselves as a new collective capable of asserting our right to cultural independence.” 

There are also various derogatory references to “Zionism,” a term often used by white nationalists who seek to avoid being labeled as antisemitic. Other messages seem harmless enough: railing against “global plutocracy”; “America First”; “reject poison” – a call to spurn the recreational use of drugs, though alcohol is notably absent from the list.

Like the Ku Klux Klan, the Patriot Front’s rank-and-file wears hoods, which proves once again that bravery in the form of white nationalism has its limits. It should be noted, however, that for some, including the white nationalists who marched six years ago in Charlotte, Va., khakis and polo shirts are the new look.

Choppers From Hell

Kudus to my colleague Kevin Rennie, who penned a fine column last week in the Hartford Courant about a State Police raid, conducted via air with a helicopter equipped with special cameras on loan from Massachusetts, on the home of a Bolton couple who was growing a couple of marijuana plants in their yard. Growing a limited number of plants for personal use is now legal in Connecticut but only inside and under lock-and-key.

Aside from scaring the daylights out of neighbors who endured half an hour of beating helicopter blades and fevered speculation among Boltonians about dangerous fugitives on the loose, the raid accomplished nothing more than the seizure of a minuscule amount of marijuana. You would think the State Police would have better things to do – like writing more phony tickets.

Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, is a Substack columnist and is the retired managing editor of The Berkshire Edge in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill or email him here.

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