Christine Cohen

State Senator

Christine Cohen

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Listening, Advocating & Getting Results

March 11, 2022

Environment, Transportation Committees Hold Joint Public Hearing on the Connecticut Clean Air Act

Today, the Environment and Transportation Committees will hold a joint public hearing on the Connecticut Clean Air Act, legislation seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase public access to electric vehicles. As transportation represents Connecticut’s most significant contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, this legislation will support cleaner air and reduced pollution in the state – also working to enhance the state’s response to climate change and come closer to its stated goal of increasing prominence of electric vehicles on roadways.

“We have a real opportunity to take meaningful climate action by setting our sights on the sector accountable for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions,” said State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford), Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. “Everyone deserves clean air and the ability to contribute to efforts to mitigate the harmful health and environmental effects of vehicle emissions. We need to make it easier to have electric transportation options be it car, bus or business fleet. I am looking forward to hearing from the public on this proposal and how we might strengthen programs to make zero emissions vehicles available on a large scale.”

““If passed, Connecticut’s Clean Air Act will help our state build a cleaner, greener future,” said State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), Senate Chair of the Transportation Committee. “Since transportation is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions, we’ve decided to tackle the problem head on. This bill improves public transit, accelerates the transition to electric vehicles, modernizes traffic lights that regularly cause delays and invests in zero-emissions school buses. In short, we’re stepping up to make sure our constituents can commute without worsening the crisis of climate change.”

Senate Bill 4, “An Act Concerning The Connecticut Clean Air Act,” would take the following steps if made law:

  • The CHEAPR electric vehicle rebate program would be overhauled, with changes including an increase to the amount available for rebates, an increase to the cap on vehicle prices eligible for rebates, increases to the low-income electric vehicle rebate and expansion of rebate eligibility to include business fleets and electric bicycles.
  • $15 million in general obligation bonds per year, for the next five years, would be authorized for towns to update traffic signals, which would be able to respond to traffic flows and reducing pollutive idling time
  • Electric vehicle charging stations will be installed across the state, especially focused on rural communities often left behind in installment plans.
  • It would support the acquisition of hundreds of new electric school buses, cleaning up emissions on vehicles ridden by our youngest children and reducing exhaust fumes they are exposed to.
  • The state will create a “create-a-voucher” program to transition medium- and heavy-duty trucks to cleaner electric vehicles and plan transportation projects so they offset any additional greenhouse gas emissions.

By 2030, the state has a marked goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% compared to 2001. However, emissions continue to surge in the modern day, with increased vehicle efficiency countered by the high number of miles drivers travel. Dovetailing with this, Connecticut has a stated goal of 137,500 electric vehicles on the road by 2025; at current pace, the state is expected to reach just 23% of that goal.

Overhauls to CHEAPR, the rebate program offering shoppers savings of up to $9,500 on electric vehicles, will expand its availability to more residents, potentially spurring greater adoption of the cleaner form of transportation. Simultaneously, upgrading traffic signals across the state can sharply reduce traffic jams by reacting to modern driving demands. Every minute less of a vehicle idling on the road, magnified by the nearly 2 million cars on Connecticut roadways, can sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.