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    Op-Ed
    Monday, May 27, 2024

    State needs to slow down on EV vehicle conversion

    A Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Volt are charged during a demo at the first ever quick-charge electric vehicle charging station in Texas.

    Last week I, along with Republican legislative leaders, raised questions and concerns regarding Governor Lamont and his administration’s plan to enact new emissions mandates modeled on California’s that would require all new passenger vehicle sales to be electric vehicles by 2035.

    While we support efforts to protect the environment and to make the air cleaner, the multiple question marks and contradictions surrounding the mandate’s achievability, affordability, and budgetary impact are all reasons to take a pause in order to understand their full ramifications. I fear that the mandates, if enacted, will make the state more unaffordable for low- and middle -income residents, bankrupt Connecticut small businesses, and put thousands of people out of work.

    This is an issue that will affect every resident who lives in the state of Connecticut. Right now, there are too many unanswered questions, and many residents are uneasy with the potential costs to their family budgets. The average period of time somebody keeps a car nowadays is 12.7 years and is a family’s biggest purchase after their home. With the average price of an EV being $63,000 as opposed to $48,000 for a gas-powered car, an electric car is unaffordable for most state residents. If I buy a gas-powered car this year (2023) and I go to the dealership in 2035 is my previously new vehicle now worth nothing if I want to trade in the car for an electric car?

    Connecticut talks about 'food deserts' - what we need is to make sure there aren't 'charging deserts' across large parts of the state. What about city and apartment dwellers who rely on on-street parking? Will there be charging stations within reasonable distances of existing gas stations? How are you going to afford to have charging for that vital piece of equipment that 95% of Connecticut residents rely on to get to work?

    Additionally, what will Connecticut do to fund transportation projects via the state's Special Transportation Fund (STF), if we are not filling up our cars and trucks with gas and diesel fuel. The STF is funded primarily from the gas tax and the gross receipts tax on petroleum revenue. How will those funds be replaced as those receipts decline and disappear?

    The average EV weighs 1500 to 2000 pounds more than a conventional gas-powered car, which will lead to more damage to the roads. The particulate pollution from vehicle tires will come to exceed tail pipe emissions and EVs are 47% more likely to suffer fatalities in a crash when an EV hits you than a gas-powered car because of that mass. People are driving bigger cars; they’re going to be driving bigger, heavier EVs. How are we going to deal with that from a public safety point of view.?

    Equally worrying, how will we handle fires involving the lithium-ion batteries that power these vehicles, with the explosive nature of lithium-ion battery blazes, coupled with the threat of electrocution?

    From an affordability standpoint, if I’m a business and I have 100 employees, is the cost of my business now going to have to include the installation of 100 charging stations when they come to work because otherwise they’re not going to be able to get home at night? This is wrong on so many levels.

    We need a Connecticut solution, not a California solution. There are over 2 million cars and trucks registered in Connecticut. We need a solution that recognizes you can't reinvent the laws of physics and create unlimited electricity for free. I look forward to working with my colleagues to craft a solution that works for the people of Connecticut, not California.

    State Rep. Holly Cheeseman represents the 37th District.

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