Thanksgiving is traditionally a big travel day for many Americans and by next year it might cost drivers a little more at the pump if the northeast governors from 12 states approve a climate initiative.
“We believe that this misguided program can end up pulling Connecticut into a multi-state effort to lower emissions through punishing the people who can least afford it,” Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association, said.
Herb is talking about the Transportation Climate Initiative which will be asking lawmakers to support a program to raise the gas tax to lower emissions.
The Transportation Climate Initiative is looking to reduce carbon emissions by 25%. Studies estimate that gas taxes would need to increase between 13 to 24 cents per gallon to pay for the programs and initiatives.
“The most vulnerable and the least able to afford higher motor fuels taxes will be disproportionately affected by this. This is low-and middle-income families who will be hurt by this,” Herb says.
But that’s not how environmental advocates view it.
‘It’s a cap and invest. It’s not a sin tax. It’s not to be able to say it that way it plays well, but that’s not what this is,” said Amy McLean, Connecticut Director of the Acadia Center.
McLean said the initiative is about investing in a clean and equitable transportation system.
“All the proceeds need to be achieving our state specific climate goal,” McLean said.
The state's goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.
“Their intention is to reduce emissions in the transportation sector and it should not be done by punishing people for going to work, for raising their families, bringing them to soccer practice. It’s an unfair tax,” Herb said.
People we spoke with were divided on the issue.
“I don’t agree with that because Connecticut is taxing us every which way they can and it’s ridiculous. They need to find better ways to use the money that they have in the general fund,” Deb Ware said.
“I mean if it’s going to be for the greater good I’ll do my part now. If it’s like for the greater good I’m all for it,” Dave Perry said.
There’s a debate about whether lawmakers will have to weigh in on the issue or if Gov. Ned Lamont can sign Connecticut up to participate without legislative approval. Lamont would prefer the legislature to weigh in.
“It’s something a lot of the regional governors are thinking about and one of the ideas I think the legislature ought to be thinking about,” Lamont said.