Climate change has human victims. When we fight against the impacts of climate change, we must be mindful of the disproportionate harm that it inflicts on low-income communities and communities of color throughout Connecticut.
The construction of power plants, sewage treatment centers, waste incinerators, and landfills have often been to the detriment of marginalized communities. The placement of these facilities has been linked to a higher rate of asthma, respiratory illnesses, and other conditions reported in many of these low-income and minority communities.
At CTLCV we acknowledge this inequality and seek to promote transformative legislation and action that would bring justice to these marginalized communities. Connecticut currently has an Environmental Justice Law on the books, but it isn't doing enough.
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN CT
THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LAW
Hartford is currently home to a high-polluting incinerator that services over 70 nearby towns. Incinerators tend to be more environmentally-harmful than coal plants and are especially inefficient at producing energy. This incinerator plant has had a particularly harmful effect on communities located within the Hartford area.
In 2008, Connecticut passed its first Environmental Justice bill that opened the possibility of community engagement and informational meetings regarding the impacts of “affecting facilities”. While the bill was a good first step at establishing community-based accountability, it did not specify any repercussions for actors who did not comply with its clauses.
What would an improved Environmental Justice Law do? An improved Environmental Justice Law would give communities a voice in defending their right to a healthy life and deciding where polluting facilities are to be located. In 2020 the legislature raised HB 5103 to mandate that these facilities could not be constructed without considerable input from local communities that would be potentially affected by its placement. HB 5103 would also nullify the application of any facility that has attempted to circumvent the process of collecting community input.
Benefits of HB 5103:
Reduce health burdens on communities of color and low-income communities;
Lower greenhouse gas emissions;
Mandate notification to municipal residents, city commissions, and Neighborhood Revitalization Zones of potential commercial and industrial interests in their area;
Ensure accessible outreach in community members' preferred language;
Protect clean air and water for people and wildlife.