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Lamont announces new climate bill with plans to create zero-emission school buses

Public Act 22-25 contains several measures that the governor hopes will improve air quality, health outcomes, and mitigate impacts from the climate crisis.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont announced a new law Friday at a press conference in New Haven that hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the transportation sector. 

The new law, Public Act 22-25, contains several measures that the governor's office hopes will improve air quality, improve health outcomes for Connecticut residents, and help mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

The law authorizes the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to adopt new standards for medium and heavy-duty vehicles which the governor's office said accounts for 53% of the nitrogen oxide emissions in the state.

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Lamont also announced that the law will lead to statutory changes under the Connecticut Clean Air Act, establish new electric vehicle and air quality improvement programs, set a target of 100% zero-emission school buses for all school districts by 2040, and more.

“This historic law does so many great things that will benefit the residents of Connecticut, improving air quality and health outcomes while also helping to mitigate the climate crisis,” Lamont said.

In the press conference, Lamont also highlighted that the recent U.S Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA and the lack of a federal passage of climate legislation was part of the reason why this new climate law is critical.  

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“The measures in this unprecedented law mean cleaner air, better health outcomes, and reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions. It will ensure that Connecticut residents and businesses can access clean, affordable passenger vehicles, trucks, school buses, transit buses and electric bikes, with a focus on communities overburdened by air pollution," said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. 

Many elected officials also participated and voiced their approval of Lamont's announcement, like State Senator Christine Cohen (D-Guilford), State Representative Joseph P. Gresko (D-Stratford), and State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport). 

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“This law is a meaningful step toward cleaner air and better health for everyone in Connecticut, especially those along transportation corridors and in environmental justice communities,” Gresko, the House chair of the Environment Committee, said.

Haskell also highlighted the need for this and other climate change reform to be supported by both major political parties. 

“Remember, there’s no such thing as Republican air or Democratic air. There’s only dirty air that makes us sick and clean air that keeps us alive. As the climate crisis worsens, as asthma rates increase, as smog leads to more emergency room visits, as children start and end their day coughing up diesel exhaust on a school bus, we need every level of government engaged in the project of saving the planet," Haskell said, continuing, "If we don’t get this right, nothing else will matter much. I’m so honored to have worked alongside Governor Lamont to pass the historic Connecticut Clean Air Act.”

The new law will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2022.

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