By Stephen Knight
Governor Lamont is frustrated that he couldn’t bludgeon the state Legislature into signing on to the Transportation Climate Initiative because of opposition from us nobodies — the actual voters in our state. We correctly saw this is a tax on everyone that would accomplish little other than provide an opportunity for rampant virtue-signaling by the Democratic governor.
So, on December 16, he issued Executive Order 21-3, a grand gesture at addressing climate change. The press release can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2021/12-2021/Governor-Lamont-Signs-Executive-Order-Directing-Connecticut-State-Agencies-To-Implement-Actions. It outlines his plans, and includes no fewer than eight groveling statements from various state department commissioners.
This column will address a few of these so-called initiatives, but, before that, let’s examine part of Lamont’s statement at the signing: “What we weren’t able to do through legislation here in Connecticut over the last year or two, we’re taking the lead right now with this executive order."[https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/connecticut/articles/2021-12-16/lamont-signs-sweeping-order-on-climate-change-pollution]. A wonderful example of classic progressive governance that means that the techno-bureaucracy staffed by unelected, unaccountable — and unreachable — state employees know better than we, whose only leverage is through elections of representatives. An end run around the messy business of democratic governance.
Now on to a few of the initiatives:
Regulating emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles: This is my favorite, because its implementation sounds so sweeping but its impact will be negligible. Yes, we can burden truck owners with onerous and exceedingly expensive emission standards (modeled on California’s, we are told). But only ones who have to license their rigs in Connecticut. How, pray tell, will these emission standards be enforced for the hundreds of thousands of trucks that pass through our state on a monthly basis? They can do this in California because the state is so huge (163,696 square miles vs Connecticut’s 5,543 sq. mi.) You think pipsqueak Connecticut is going to dictate terms to the trucks entering our state from the other 48? Really? The U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause just might be an obstacle to the governor’s dreams of being the country’s environmental overlord.
Appliance Standards: “Directs DEEP to promulgate regulations to promote energy conservation and efficiency, provided that the subject appliances remain cost-effective for consumers who purchase and use them.” (taken, as are the quotes that follow, from the Summary of Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 21-3 On Climate) Again I ask: Who the heck is Connecticut, with 3.5 million people, to dictate to the other 326.5 million Americans what home appliances they must buy? And didn’t the Feds already do the same? The five-year-old dishwasher my wife Cathy and I bought is supposedly environment-friendly because it uses less water, but it takes three hours to run. This is an improvement?
Statewide battery electric bus fleet by 2035: “Directs DOT (the Connecticut Department of Transportation) to cease purchasing or providing state funding to third parties for the purchase of diesel buses by the end of 2023 and create an implementation plan which identifies any barriers to full bus fleet electrification” by 2035. Okay, this will cut down on diesel fumes, primarily in our cities, but where are these buses? How many are available, and at what price? And, just one more question: how will we generate all that electric power for all those hundreds of buses? And what fuel will be used? Can’t be natural gas because we don’t have enough as it is, and the State of New York won’t permit pipelines to cross their state.
Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council: “Establishes the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council (‘CEEJAC’) within DEEP.” This Council will “advise DEEP on current and historic environmental injustice, pollution reduction, energy equity, climate change mitigation and resiliency, health disparities, and racial inequity.…” I’m sorry, but this is so, so patronizing, and simply more virtue-signaling to favored groups. The electric buses would certainly help, but this is mainly a sop to urban grievance groups and yet another way to funnel more unaccountable funding to Democratic-led cities.
Resilient Stormwater and Drainage Systems: “Directs DEEP to update the design criteria for stormwater management systems and DOT to identify culverts that need to be repaired or replaced to guide application for federal funding for this work.” Ahah! This one actually makes sense. Prepare the infrastructure to cope with potential climate change.
Yes, yes, we all must work for a carbon-free existence. But few of these twenty-three “initiatives” could possibly pass even cursory cost-benefit analysis. Progressive politicians are desperate to show that they are “doing something” about what Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on April 22, 2021, described as the existential problem of our century!!! [https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/2582051/defense-secretary-calls-climate-change-an-existential-threat].
One cannot help but think that this progressive hysteria has a larger aim. More and more government control? A cowed and compliant citizenry, ready to accept crushing mandates without question? Ben Franklin’s prescient quote comes to mind: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.