Governor Lamont Announces Connecticut Adopting Clean Air Car and Truck Emission Standards To Reduce Air Pollution, Protect Public Health, Promote Development
Connecticut Joining Eight States – Including MA, NJ, NY, and RI – To Slash Tailpipe Emissions From Cars, SUVs, and Trucks Beginning in 2027
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today that the State of Connecticut is proposing regulations to make cars and trucks up to 90% cleaner and to require vehicle manufacturers to deliver more zero-emission vehicles to Connecticut drivers while also increasing consumer protections. The public comment period remains open until August 23, 2023.
The light-duty vehicle standards being released implement legislation adopted in 2003, requiring the state to adopt and remain consistent with California’s standards for light duty vehicles (passenger cars). These standards will require 90% cleaner emissions from internal combustion engines and will require vehicle manufacturers to deliver 100% electric vehicles by 2035. They also introduce assurance measures that strengthen battery life and warranty requirements for consumers.
The medium and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicle standards authorized by the Connecticut Clean Air Act (Public Act 22-25), which Governor Lamont signed into law last year, require increasing percentages of MHD electric vehicle (EV) sales until 2032 (depending on vehicle class) and will reduce emissions from internal combustion engine MHD vehicles by up to 90%. This legislation enables Connecticut to follow California’s program. Both light-duty and MHD standards provide manufacturers with significant flexibility in meeting the requirements, including credit and pooling banking provisions. In addition, Connecticut has and will continue to support and develop incentive programs to help Connecticut residents and businesses purchase new electric and advanced technology vehicles and will continue to work with manufacturers to determine how to best deploy those incentive programs.
Significantly reducing pollution from cars and trucks provides benefits to those living closest to transportation corridors, which include many distressed municipalities and other environmental justice communities.
With this action, Connecticut joins Rhode Island, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico in announcing intention to adopt new standards. Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont finalized adoption of rules this year or late 2022.
“Connecticut and our neighboring states are taking decisive action to meet our climate pollution reduction targets,” Governor Lamont said. “Cars and trucks represent the largest air pollution sector in our state and these regulations are moving in coordination with commitments made by vehicle manufacturers to go all in on electrification.”
“To meet our long-term reduction targets, most vehicle sales need to be zero-emission by the middle of the next decade,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Implementing the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules will also help us reduce smog and fine particulate emissions across Connecticut and especially in communities disproportionately impacted by air pollution.”
“We’re investing in no emission, sustainable vehicles and making infrastructure upgrades throughout the state that will help alleviate idling and encourage more active transportation,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Karen Kitsis said. “The transportation sector accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions impacting communities around the state, and taking these steps is the right thing to do. Through Governor Lamont’s leadership and with the continued support of our state and federal delegation, we’re transforming our transportation infrastructure to be more sustainable, accessible, and safer for all users.”
“The fact is that zero-emission vehicles protect public health and improve quality of life,” Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD, said. “Climate change is directly impacting the health of our communities. If zero-emission vehicles made up the majority of passenger vehicles on the road, air quality would improve and fewer people would have exacerbations of respiratory conditions. Regulations like this that are being proposed by Governor Lamont are bringing us one step closer to meeting our climate and health goals for generations to come.”
The proposed rules are receiving the support of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
“Passing the legislation allowing for Connecticut to continue lowering our GHG emissions has put our state on the path to better health,” State Representative Joe Gresko (D-Stratford), co-chair of the Environment Committee, said. “The industry is moving in this direction, and Connecticut and other states are joining them in directing the market to better consider our residents’ health.”
“I was honored to help lead the passage of the Connecticut Clean Air Act in 2022 and I’m thrilled that today we are launching a major piece of the legislation,” State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, said. “If we want to get serious about climate change, we need to recognize the role of air quality and tackle carbon emissions from its largest contributor – the transportation sector. These new regulations will ensure cleaner emissions vehicles are made available for purchase and move Connecticut forward to a greener future.”
“The environment has no party affiliation,” State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield), who has been recognized for his leadership on air pollution, climate transition, and coastal resiliency, said. “We must continue to strive to bring bipartisan solutions to everything we do with the environment. That includes combating climate change and our efforts to reduce asthma rates. Lowering vehicle emissions is one of the solutions which will improve air quality and public health. I was proud to support this legislation, and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to protect our environment.”
Advocates and stakeholders are applauding the issuance of the proposed rules.
“Transportation is the biggest source of air pollution in Connecticut and disproportionately contributes to nitrous oxides, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter,” Jay Stange of Transport Hartford Academy, a lead organizer for the Transportation Climate Coalition, said. “These pollutants harm public health, especially in low-income, urban communities, where years of discriminatory land use and transportation policies have resulted in environmental justice communities being disproportionately burdened with particulate matter air pollution from vehicles.”
“Two decades ago, Connecticut became a leader on cleaner transportation by adopting the Clean Cars I standards. Now, it’s time to take the next step in achieving the kind of emissions reductions we must in order to responsibly address climate change,” Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney at Save the Sound, said. “Taken together, the regulations introduced today will provide long overdue updates to our vehicle standards, placing Connecticut on the path to transforming and modernizing the transportation sector and providing substantial environmental and health benefits for the citizens of Connecticut.”
“In a summer of smoky haze and extreme heat, climate change is undeniably a crisis,” Aziz Dehkan, executive director of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, said. “The world needs to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and fast, if there’s any hope of preventing more frequent extreme weather events. With the passage of the Connecticut Clean Air Act, Connecticut has an opportunity to become a leader in decarbonizing transportation. With the adoption of the standards in the act, we can continue to supplant fossil fuel vehicles, accelerating to a clean energy future, and one that meets our critical climate goals.”
Cleaner vehicles are needed to address Connecticut’s air quality
Connecticut suffers from some of the worst air quality in the country, especially along heavily traveled transportation corridors where air pollution is most densely concentrated. Mobile sources are the single largest contributor to statewide greenhouse gas emissions, contributing 40% of emissions, and 70% of emissions of nitrogen oxides, a precursor to ground level ozone (smog). Exposure to poor air quality exacerbates acute and chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other lung diseases. Increasing the number of zero-emission vehicles will decrease our largest source of in-state emissions and help Connecticut meet its air quality and climate change goals.
More and more, Connecticut residents are choosing to transition to EVs. As of July 1, 2023, EV registrations are up 20% since January 1, 2023, and up 42% since July 1, 2022, according to data from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
Public hearings and comments on proposed regulations
DEEP will hold public hearings, if requested, on the proposed regulations on August 22, 2023, and will accept comments on the proposed regulations until August 23, 2023. For specific notices for the regulations and the ability to comment please use the following links:
- Proposed section 22a-174-37, Low NOx and ACT Regulation (PR2023-020)
- Proposed section 22a-174-36d, Advanced Clean Cars II (PR2023-023)
Manufacturers committing to an electrified future and cleaner vehicles
Many vehicle manufacturers have already announced plans to electrify the vehicles they offer for sale amid increasing consumer demand and emerging regulatory requirements. For example:
- Ford is planning for half of all vehicles it sells to be electric by 2030, and by the end of 2023 wants to produce 600,000 EVs per year.
- General Motors committed to selling only zero-emission cars and trucks by 2035.
- Honda aims to make its entire lineup zero-emissions in major markets by 2040. The company wants to offer 30 EV models by 2030 and produce more than 2 million EVs a year.
- Hyundai plans to sell 1.9 million battery EVs annually by 2030 and will introduce 17 new EV models by then.
- Nissan wants EVs to make up at least 75% of its sales in Europe, 55% in Japan, and 40% in China by fiscal year 2026. By fiscal year 2030, it wants 40% of its U.S. sales to be EVs.
- Toyota expects its sales of all-electric vehicles to reach 3.5 million by 2030, and will introduce 30 EV models by that time.
In addition, manufacturers such as Tesla, Rivian, and Polestar are already producing 100% ZEVs.
The National Automobile Dealers Association’s website states, “America’s new-car and truck dealers are committed to selling consumers the vehicles that they want and need.” It further adds, “Electric and hybrid vehicles are here, and America’s vast franchised dealer network is eager, excited, and essential to the successful deployment to the mass retail market. Dealers are all-in on EVs and are investing billions of dollars in their stores and staff to improve the purchasing experience and reduce barriers to electric-vehicle ownership.”
Regional experience implementing the current zero emissions vehicle regulations indicates that automakers first deliver EVs to those states where there is a legal requirement to do so. States that do not adopt regulations like ACCII will be limited to remaining EV inventories each year based on market conditions. As such, if Connecticut does not adopt these rules, state auto dealers and customers will likely not have broad access to the newest and most popular EVs in-state, and customers will need to travel to neighboring states to access inventory and purchase them.
The regulations only apply to vehicle manufacturers. The rules do not affect used cars or regulate local auto dealers or customers. Through the new rules, Connecticut will require that all new cars sold in 2035 and beyond are ZEVs. Gasoline-powered cars can still be driven in Connecticut, registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and sold as used cars to new owners.
Significant benefits for Connecticut
There are significant emissions, climate, and economic benefits expected due to the adoption of these regulations. The effect they will have on the state meeting statutory mandates in the Global Warming Solutions Act is clear. Light duty vehicle emissions are projected to be 9.81 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO₂e) a year in 2025. By 2030, the ACCII program will reduce this to about 6.86 MMTCO₂e/year – a 30% reduction. Additionally, owners can expect total cost of ownership (TCO) to be reduced due to lower fuel costs and maintenance which could amount to $7,900 in savings over the first ten years of ownership.
Similarly, the benefits from adoption of the MHD rules will have similar benefits as noted by DEEP’s report, An Assessment of Connecticut’s Need to Adopt California’s Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emission Standards, released in 2022. According to that report, emissions from trucks would be around 2.3 MMTCO₂e per year in 2045 without these regulations but will be reduced to 1.9 MMTCO₂ a year, an 18% reduction. Truck TCO would be expected to be about 18% lower under the regulations, and Connecticut could save $1.4 billion in avoided health costs.