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Connecticut clean air bill will adopt stricter standards for certain trucks

Exhaust rises from a truck in California last September.
Mike Blake
Exhaust rises from a truck in California last September.

Lawmakers in Connecticut have passed a wide-ranging bill that aims to reduce vehicle emissions by adopting California’s clean air standards for certain trucks.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said last week he intends to sign the bill.

“The choice is clear; adopting the California framework … will be another important step toward cleaner air and better health outcomes for all residents, particularly those who live in our cities and along our transportation corridors,” Lamont said.

Once adopted, the California standards won’t force anyone to drive a certain type of truck. But they will require manufacturers of big trucks to produce progressively higher percentages of cleaner vehicles, which may be offered for sale to Connecticut consumers beginning as early as the fall of 2026.

California’s standards are stricter than the federal manufacturing standards. Because of federal law, states can only choose between adopting the federal emission standards or California’s.

Several other states in the region have adopted the California emission standard for certain trucks, including Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, according to Lamont’s office.

Now Connecticut will join that group.

According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the transportation sector is Connecticut’s largest source of statewide greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent DEEP report found that medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses account for as much as 53% of smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions in Connecticut despite being only 6% of the vehicle fleet by weight.

Smog contributes to poor air quality, which is bad for everyone, but it can exacerbate asthma, reduce lung function and irritate the respiratory system, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, said forcing manufacturers to make cleaner engines will give Connecticut residents cleaner air.

“Taking a bite out of that is really significant. It’s really game-changing for our state,” Brown said.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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