CT Deputy Commissioner explains new regional plan to cut emissions

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes explains the Transportation and Climate Initiative during a virtual webinar hosted by State Representatives Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140).

NORWALK, Conn. — What is the new Transportation and Climate Initiative that Connecticut has signed on to be a part of and what does it mean for communities like Norwalk?

Those were the two major questions that a virtual webinar hosted by State Representatives Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140), featuring Katie Dykes, Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Garrett Euclitto, Deputy Commissioner at ConnDOT, aimed to address. Thomas said the meeting was held to help clear up some confusion and comments about what the program actually is.


What is the new Transportation and Climate Initiative?

Dykes said that the regional effort, which includes Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, aims to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas and other emissions caused by transportation.

“The program essentially will require polluters, in this case, the polluters are those who sell gasoline and petroleum fuels at wholesale, will require them to pay for the pollution that they are emitting in the state of Connecticut, that they’re causing on communities in Connecticut. The program takes that payment, essentially those dollars, and it turns around and reinvest them in communities in clean transportation options,” she said.

Dykes estimated that between 2023, when the proposed start of the Transportation and Climate Initiative is scheduled to go into effect, and 2032, Connecticut could generate about $1 billion in revenue through the program.

Dykes said that it’s a similar program to the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative, which aimed to address greenhouse pollution from power plants, except this time it’s geared toward the transportation industry.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes explains the Transportation and Climate Initiative during a virtual webinar hosted by State Representatives Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140).

“The transportation sector is a major source of pollution in our state,” she said. “It’s the largest source of air pollution, and the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in our state. And almost all of that pollution that we’re talking about is coming from vehicle traffic, from cars and trucks that are burning fossil fuels, namely gasoline and diesel fuel.”

The State would set a cap or limit on the amount of emissions that would be allowed and that cap would decline over a 10-year period.

“And the program essentially requires those fuel suppliers to purchase allowances to cover the emissions caused by the sale of their fuels,” she said. “And then the revenue from the sale of those allowances to the fuel suppliers comes back to the state of Connecticut. And those are the billion dollars that we project to receive in the coming decade, that will be reinvested in the clean transportation solutions that we mentioned.”

If the fuel suppliers were to pass on 100% of the costs of these allowances onto the customers, Dykes said she would anticipate about a five-cent impact on gas prices in 2023, which could go up to a 10 cent impact on gas prices by 2032.

“Our goal is not to make driving expensive, not to make gasoline expensive,” she said. “Our goal is to achieve emissions reductions through the investment of the billion dollars in clean transportation solutions.”

Dykes said that these emissions are causing climate change and impacting air quality and public health. About 67% of the air pollution in Connecticut comes from vehicles, she said, and it often disproportionately affects the state’s urban communities and those next to highways.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes explains the Transportation and Climate Initiative during a virtual webinar hosted by State Representatives Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140).

“It’s 15 to 20% higher than in suburban or rural communities,” she said. “And so when we talk about making progress on environmental justice, addressing racial injustices that are prevalent in our state, and reflected in zoning and the types of pollution that communities are burdened with, the transportation sector is a major contributor that when it comes to air pollution. So it’s critical for us to make progress on environmental justice that we tackle vehicle traffic and vehicle emissions.”

She cited Hartford and New Haven as two cities that have been ranked as some of the worst places to live for people with asthma due to air pollution.

By implementing the program, it would also allow Connecticut to get to its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.

“Unless we invest in ways that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand clean transportation alternatives, it’s just impossible to meet that,” she said.


What impact could the Transportation and Climate Initiative have in communities like Norwalk?

The funds raised through the Transportation and Climate Initiative would be reinvested in communities, particularly those who have been underserved by the transportation system and those who have been overburdened by pollution. The initiative requires at least 35% of the funds raised to be dedicated to those communities.

“It’s going to be up to the communities and the residents of those communities to help make those decisions on how best to reduce emissions in their communities,” Euclitto said.

He listed some examples such as transforming intersections to roundabouts, upgrading traffic signals, investing in bikeable, walkable alternatives, making electric cars more affordable, expanding train service, and transforming state and city bus fleets from diesel to electric.

Thomas said that she believed it was important to address issues such as climate change and environmental pollution. Thomas cited the efforts in Norwalk to oppose the Norden Place distribution plans as an example of how environmental pollution is important to quality of life.

“Our community recently, a few months ago, fought a special permit proposal for a distribution center that would have meant over 1,000 weekly truck trips through a neighborhood with several schools,” she said. “And although we talked about pedestrian and bicycle safety, the conversation also centered around emissions and concern about an increase in diesel particulate matter, which I thought more than anything else showed me that this community cares about the environment.”

Simms said that his district has been impacted by pollution and environmental injustice, which is why he wanted to have this educational forum.

“And my district, I serve a lot of the lowest income residents, and where a lot of these contractor yards are and where there are a lot of the concerns of polluting and environmental hazards and things of that nature,” he said.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes explains the Transportation and Climate Initiative during a virtual webinar hosted by State Representatives Stephanie Thomas (D-143) and Travis Simms (D-140).


6 responses to “CT Deputy Commissioner explains new regional plan to cut emissions”

  1. john j flynn

    Tackle vehicle Traffic and charge a fee after they are out of business? That is about as silly as charging 10 cents for a plastic bottle instead of 5 cents. You found two State Reps willing to push this? We have 30 serious problems not addressed. The hand outs are not going to last.

  2. Kenneth Werner

    What actions do the TCI-P “collaborating states” take?

  3. John O’Neill

    There’s a few points that we need to consider while listening to Katie Dykes and others on this “Initiative”:
    Katie Dykes’ prior position was head of PURA — For those not in the know that’s the regulatory authority overseeing our electric bills. Many politicians blasted prior PURA leadership during the power outages this past summer. Dykes was that “prior” PURA leadership. So I think it’s fair to be cynical about anything she pushes. If you notice her nuance you will pick up on the fact she’s not being straight about who’s really paying the additional money for taxes. IT WON’T BE THE WHOLESALER? Who is she kidding? Very sad.
    Representative Simms should understand the effects of this regressive tax on his district. It’s not going to be 5 cent per gallon, but actually closer to 15-20 cents per gallon. Isn’t that a little much for someone on a limited budget? Did I miss that he now represents Westport? He may also want to understand how many of his constituents work at those facilities he’s complaining about.
    Back to Katie Dykes — It should be noted her husband worked in the Obama administration and oversaw solar power company subsidies. If you research Solyndra and Mackey Dykes you’ll get the picture. Of course somehow he seemed to land on his feet with a gov’t position in Connecticut. How did that happen?
    Lastly — regarding emissions and the environment. What kind of cars do all these gov’t officials drive? I’m tired of listening to politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths. Aren’t You ?

  4. Norwalk resident

    I would like to know what “clean transportation options”Katie is proposing

  5. Common Sense

    When I was a kid in the 1960-70s I can remember how awful the cars were from a pollution standpoint. The air quality in the US is much better today. Why are we being subject to these extreme mandates that have substantial economic impacts without any real say in the matter?

    Did anyone check with the economist on this one?

    How was 67% calculated? Last I checked air was free to roam. That would make this calculation very hard to nail down which means it’s wide open for abusive interpretations such as ,the creation of massive new governmental control that only really benefits the bureaucrats. Maybe we should ask some of the folks that are leaving California what they think about mandates like these.

    Much more progress could be made on global pollution by calling out the largest polluters – China, India and other emerging world powers. China has been, and will continue building a staggering number of coal fired power plants. Start from the top down. Slamming the local power and transportation sectors seems a bit misguided, economically damaging and inefficient.

  6. Diane marie keefe

    The estimated impact of 5 cents per gallon of gas is the difference you can find driving from one gas station to another nearby. Yet the revenues from this transportation climate initiative will add up to cleaner transportation. We need more frequent bus and shared ride services for low income people and to move fleet vehicles to hybrid and electric vehicles to decrease the pollution from cars and trucks.
    Anyone with asthma, COPD or heart problems will be better off as the air becomes cleaner. Since climate change is making our summers hotter, if we do nothing there will be even more dangerous ozone created by the traffic jams along the Merritt and Rt 95 and even at local congested intersections. I am glad Gov Lamont is taking decisive action on pollution from cars and trucks and I’m glad Stephanie and Travis support it. We need more CT state reps to be concerned about public health.

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