CEMA members comment on proposed gasoline tax plan

Dozens of CEMA members filed comments on the regional plan to tax gasoline in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic including Connecticut. The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) seeks to implement a regional system to limit emissions that come from transportation fuels and tax fuel suppliers by requiring them to buy credits to permit the sale of any fuel over the cap. This essentially creates a new tax at the distributor level, which will be passed on to consumers, making fuel more expensive in order to force them to reduce consumption or buy electric vehicles. The intention of the program is to reduce the use of gasoline and diesel by at least 40% by 2030 and eliminate vehicles powered by fossil fuels by 2050. To view the plan click here - TCI Cap & Trade Plan The comments submitted to the TCI planners were developed by CEMA, excerpts of which follow:
  • TCI needs to be very cautious about advantaging regulated electric monopolies that already benefit from antitrust protection and a guaranteed rate of return. According to the website Utility Dive, "Just to meet this load that comes from electrifying transportation and buildings, you have to add an electricity sector that's equal to the current electricity sector" — which is a huge gift to utility investors. Are utilities doing such a great job that they deserve these government handouts (Eversource is rated below California's PG&E in 2019 by the American Customer Satisfaction Index)? Our business cannot compete with utilities coddled and protected by government unless, we get equivalent protection and subsidies to create a level, competitive playing field.
  • With the goal of putting million's EVs on the road, TCI should have ISO New England and the other grid operators fully evaluate the impact that this would have on the electric grid. An article published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates that one EV can consume as much electricity as a home does. And as noted, we need to double power generation to meet the state's carbon goals, an unlikely feat that will result only in supply shortages. The unintended consequence of the government heedlessly jumping onto the EV bandwagon will be rolling blackouts, with power loss to critical infrastructure such as schools, businesses, emergency responders, hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The ISO's should add to their evaluation the impact of state policies promoting electric heat pumps on the electric grid, which could require an additional 17 million MWH of power annually. TCI must understand the impact that their program has on other initiatives also looking to utilize more electricity. TCI is not operating in isolation and has the responsibility not to operate in the dark either, and ensure that electric reliability is not compromised.
  • Although EVs are considered a low- or zero-emission vehicles, they are only as clean as the electricity that charges them. Connecticut is heavily reliant on natural gas to generate electricity and becoming more dependent on it as nuclear generation in the region is retired. Natural gas (methane) is more than seventy times as potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and combusting natural gas also emits carbon dioxide. According to the Department of Energy, an EV produces 4,362 lbs of CO2e per year — that's almost two tons — hardly emissions-free, and that doesn't even consider the CO2 resulting from their manufacture. TCI needs to fully understand the lifecycle impact of EVs and the source of the fuel that electricity is being generated from before EVs are designated as "clean". It is intellectually and environmentally dishonest to claim that electricity is clean when ISO New England today (10/29/19) reports that just 8% of electric generation is renewable and 53% is generated with natural gas. Methane's impact on climate change is an inconvenient truth.
  • Connecticut motorists are already paying the highest gasoline taxes in New England and the 11th highest tax in America. Connecticut also has the highest diesel tax in New England and the 9th highest tax in America. Any proposal that increases the cost of fuel in our state will disproportionally harm low-income motorists and businesses when compared to states that do not participate in TCI.