WINDSOR \u2014 Gov. Ned Lamont sought to reaffirm his environmental bona fides on Wednesday by championing his administration\u2019s efforts to train workers for clean energy careers, while deflecting criticism from environmentalists angered by his decision to abandon efforts to join a regional climate change initiative in 2022. Speaking at a workforce training center in Windsor that specializes in placing graduates in jobs installing insulation, sealing gaps in windows and doors and making homes more energy efficient, Lamont said the state would look to leverage a massive investment on federal dollars from the recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure bill toward such green initiatives. Those investments, however, are unlikely to be matched with new funds from a multistate cap-and-trade program on vehicle emissions, the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which Lamont effectively declared dead earlier this week. \u201cLook, we\u2019re getting a lot of money for resiliency, we\u2019re getting a lot of environmental money, we have to put up our share of it,\u201d Lamont said Wednesday. \u201cTCI was one way that the state could put up its share, my hunch is it won't be this year.\u201d The governor\u2019s backing away from the TCI prompted a flurry of criticism from environmental advocates, who accused the governor of bowing to critics of the program \u2014 and their incessant depiction of the TCI as a gas tax increase \u2014 ahead of an election year. Save the Sound swiftly reacted to Lamont\u2019s announcement Tuesday that he would not continue to push for the TCI. In a statement, the group cast the move as \u201cpolitically convenient,\u201d and a \u201cabandonment of his top climate priority.\u201d The Acadia Center, another conservation group, was similarly blunt in its criticism, releasing a statement titled \u201cGovernor Lamont Strikes Out On Climate.\u201d Both groups pointed to a report released earlier this year by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which found that the state is not on track to meet its own goals for reducing carbon emissions. Vehicle emissions \u201cremained stubbornly high,\u201d the report concluded, despite falling emissions from power plants and industrial sources. \u201cThere\u2019s no choice, somebody\u2019s got to do something and it\u2019s got to happen soon and it\u2019s got to be big,\u201d said Lori Brown, director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and one of the chief lobbyists for the TCI. \u201cAnd if you are looking at going into an election year and you\u2019re afraid that doing anything that might get you some bad media or bad coverage or anger from constituents, think about all the constituents that are going to be furious at a do-nothing leadership or do-nothing Legislature or administration on climate,\u201d Brown said. DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes, the administration\u2019s strong advocate for joining the TCI, acknowledged Wednesday that the state was behind on meeting its emission targets, though she vowed to utilize funding from the federal infrastructure bill to make investments in meeting those goals and funding other projects that would have benefited from the TCI. \u201cWe just had tornadoes touch down in Connecticut in November,\u201d Dykes told reporters. \u201cThe climate crisis is here, it\u2019s continuing.\u201d Responding to criticism about dropping the TCI from his 2022 agenda, Lamont said it is \u201cnot a bad idea\u201d for those critics to focus their attention on lawmakers, who failed to pass TCI legislation \u2014 or even bring it to a vote \u2014 earlier this year. That lack of a vote happened despite overwhelming Democratic majorities and active support from Lamont, who appeared with Dykes around the state calling for Connecticut to join the initiative. The governor reiterated on Wednesday that he would \u201cabsolutely\u201d sign such a bill if it reached his desk. \u201cNobody can say we didn\u2019t put our shoulder to the wheel,\u201d Lamont said. \u201cI know what it would mean in terms of the environment, I know what it would mean in terms of good-paying jobs, I know what it meant in terms of working with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but the Legislature just didn\u2019t have an appetite for it.\u201d Brown, with the League of Conservation Voters, said Wednesday that there was sufficient support among Democrats in the Legislature to pass a TCI plan, which she said had been hampered by \u201cbehind-the-scenes\u201d opposition. \u201cThey still need to come back to the table to figure this out,\u201d she said. Republicans have held numerous rallies against the TCI, charging that it could raise the price of gas even further and promising to make it a campaign issue as Lamont seeks re-election. The administration and other proponents of the plan said any price increases were not likely to exceed 5 cents per gallon and they noted that the money would be used to address needs in Connecticut. Transportation Committee Co-Chair Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, said Wednesday that while disappointed in the deferral of TCI to future years, the decision reflected the \u201cpolitical reality,\u201d for Lamont and Democrats, who are seeking to maintain their control in Hartford amid surging costs of gas and other products. \u201cWe can still use the resources that we do have to make progress in reducing carbon emissions, promoting public transit and advancing equity,\u201d Haskell added. \u201cThis is a really urgent moment for Connecticut to get this right.\u201d Turning the attention Wednesday to his administration\u2019s existing conservation efforts, Lamont met with graduates of the job-training program run by the Windsor nonprofit Energy Efficiency for All. The group, in partnership with the state Office of Workforce Strategy, has completed training of 15 workers and connected them with jobs at energy-efficiency contractors. As part of a larger state investment in workforce training, Lamont said the state would specifically target investments toward green jobs. Niall Dammando, the chief of staff for the Office of Workforce Strategy, said that investment would include $10 million over the next three years to train up to 1,500 workers for careers improving the energy efficiency of homes and other buildings.