Governors of several northeast and mid-Atlantic states are developing a regional gas tax to fund mass transit, electric-vehicle charging, and other transportation changes designed to cut auto emissions.
But they're not calling it a regional gas tax—instead, it's being described as a cap-and-trade plan for motor vehicle carbon emissions.
The idea is to combat some of the rollbacks the Trump administration has made on auto emissions standards and efforts to curb climate change.
The tax would apply to gas and diesel fuels with exemptions for boat and jet fuel.
The plan being considered by Connecticut and 11 other states and the District of Columbia charges for emissions while slowly lowering emission limits over 10 years, beginning in 2022.
Greenhouse Gas Model
The program would be modeled after the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an effort by Connecticut and eight other eastern states to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from power plants.
Under the regional gas tax plan, the 12 states and D.C. would raise their gas tax at the same time and by the same amount.
The revenue would be used to combat climate change. Uses include investing in mass transit and electric-car charging.
One issue the states must resolve is how the revenue will be shared.
Gov. Ned Lamont supports the concept, a spokesperson said.
"The governor is serious about confronting the climate challenges we face in a collaborative and responsible way," Max Reiss, the governor's communications director, told reporters.
Deputy House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) said a regional gas tax will hit people who can least afford an electric vehicle—the working poor and middle class.
"Middle class and poorer people don't have the financial wherewithal to make that kind of a purchase," he said.
Currently, Connecticut drivers pay a flat, 25-cents a gallon tax, plus a gross receipts tax at the pump that’s based on the wholesale price of gas.
Supporters say the plan's benefits include limiting cost impacts, keeping energy dollars in the 12-state region, and improving public health from reduced emissions.
In addition to Connecticut, states involved are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C.