Opinion: Reject call to revive Transportation Climate Initiative

A gas station in Norwalk.

A gas station in Norwalk.

Alexander Soule / Hearst Connecticut Media

As legislative leaders decide what issues should be taken up during the upcoming special session, I wanted to set the record straight on the facts concerning the Transportation Climate Initiative, or TCI, and why everyone loses if it is adopted by Connecticut.

The environment

Despite all those who say TCI is needed to help save the environment, the facts remain that TCI will have very little impact on reducing emissions. TCI claims it will reduce emissions 26 percent by 2032, but the truth is that Georgetown Climate Center projects 25.7 percent of the 26 percent emission reductions will be achieved through existing and future vehicle fuel economy standards — not TCI.

Let’s talk about that 5 cents-per-gallon increase

TCI will drive up the cost of gasoline and diesel. You can call it a tax, fee or surcharge but the bottom line is whatever you call it, TCI will add to the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel. According to TCI designers, in the first year the program will cost between 5 and 9 cents per gallon and by year 10 it could go as high as 25 cents per gallon. It is not capped at 5 cents like proponents claim.

The poor will subsidize the rich

TCI is regressive. The additional cost TCI will add to motor fuels will be felt hardest by low- and middle-income working families as they subsidize electric vehicles and charging stations for only those wealthy enough to afford them.

TCI has not been accepted by other states

The program is not regional. Massachusetts is the only jurisdiction prepared to enter TCI. Eight other states are thinking about it, but all need to pass enabling legislation to sign on to it. New Hampshire and Maine have completely dropped out.

TCI will reduce revenue in the Special Transportation Fund

TCI requires a 30 percent drop in motor fuel usage over the next 10 years, which means it will reduce the motor fuels excise tax and petroleum gross earning tax revenue that Connecticut collects to fund the Special Transportation Fund, or STF, exacerbating the fund’s solvency issues. Since TCI doesn’t fix the STF, legislators will have to revisit the STF with either tolls or additional gas taxes on top of TCI.

The back story behind some supporters of TCI

BP, Shell, Ford, Tesla, EV charging companies and a host of other businesses have asked that the Legislature approve increasing the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel so they can profit from electric vehicle infrastructure, but none of them have offered to pay for it, like the mom-and-pop businesses did when they built their gasoline stations decades ago.

TCI has no sunset provisions

The TCI program would start on Jan. 1, 2022, and continues forever with no sunset provisions. That means there would no longer be any future legislative involvement or safeguards historically afforded consumers over any fuel price increases going forward. Instead, every annual fuel price increase under TCI would be set by the environmental regulators in the compact of participating states, not the Connecticut General Assembly. Are you OK with that?

Since TCI does not move the environmental needle, why should motorists have to pay more at the pump to build an infrastructure that will not serve them? Legislative leaders were wise when they did not take action on TCI during the regular legislative session that ended last week and should reject call to bring it back when they go into special session.

Chris Herb is president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association.