Environmental Advocates Call for Action This Earth Day
This Earth Day, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) is calling on Connecticut lawmakers, leaders and representatives to stand up for a sustainable future in Connecticut. CTLCV is currently tracking over 60 bills that are being discussed by the legislature that could protect green spaces, support communities impacted by climate change, safeguard endangered and threatened species, power Connecticut through renewable energy and create long-lasting green collar jobs. The full legislative Watchlist can be found here.
“We stand at a major tipping point for Connecticut’s environment. We are moving in the right direction, but there is still so much more we have to do to create a sustainable future,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. “The White House, Congress and EPA are not interested in fighting climate change at the moment. Until that changes, it is on us to build a sustainable future for the next generation. We have one planet, we have to protect it.”
At their annual Environmental Summit in January, dozens of lawmakers, advocates and members of the media gathered at Trinity College to hear newly elected Governor Lamont’s stance on environmental protections and sustainability. He has stated that everything he does during his term will be done “through an environmental lens” and that the environment will be one of his administration’s top priorities.
"CTLCV endorsed hundreds of advocates, lawmakers, and members of government, including Governor Lamont, for their commitment to environmental equity and a sustainable future,” said Amanda Schoen, Deputy Director of CTLCV. “We now need to take those words and turn them into actions. Connecticut is in a position to be powered by 100% renewable energy, while at the same time growing our economy through green jobs. There is no reason we can’t grow our economy while simultaneously protecting the environment."
Some of CTLCV’s top 2019 issues include:
Ending Plastic Bag Pollution: Greenwich and Westport have successfully banned single-use plastic bags, and Stamford passed a ban which will go into effect on May 3rd. Nearly a dozen other towns are considering similar bans, and even businesses like Big Y are proactively removing them from their stores. Connecticut uses 400 million single-use plastic bags a year, and they often end up in Long Island Sound or other waterways. CTLCV believes we can end their threat to our environment by passing a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
Environmental Equity: Climate change affects us all, but it does not affect us all equally. Green policies must be crafted with the input and consent of the communities they impact. For example, when implementing climate resilience adaptations in low-income neighborhoods, community leaders should be involved in the design of the adaptation, there should be a robust period of public comments and any concerns about potential negative side effects must be taken into account.
Connecticut Green Economy: As we transition to clean energy and green technology, we must take care not to leave workers or low-to-moderate income families behind. The most vulnerable among us should not bear the costs of these policies, and displaced workers in one sector should be given training or resources to find new positions.
Renewable Energy: To meet our ambitious goal of reducing our state’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, Connecticut must act swiftly to expand our investment in renewables like offshore wind. This means not only securing the full 2000 MW of renewable energy for the state, but also investing in the efficiency of Connecticut’s energy infrastructure in a way that creates jobs, fights climate change and is done in an environmentally responsible manner.
Carbon Pricing: Reducing the amount of carbon emissions we produce is a critical component of fighting climate change. Oil companies and fossil fuels are huge contributors to carbon emissions and air pollution—but they have not paid for the damage they cause to our environment or our public health. Attaching a price to carbon will encourage big businesses to reduce their carbon emissions and help Connecticut meet its energy targets. By following the successful model of programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Connecticut can become a national leader by establishing a regional price on carbon.
Land Preservation: Towns and municipalities face ever-tightening budgets, and have asked repeatedly for a reliable source of revenue to acquire dedicated open space, local farmland, or water resources. Our parks, farms, trails, and beaches are what attract and keep residents in Connecticut. Communities in other states that have passed land preservation legislation saw their home values increase while simultaneously preserving tens of thousands of acres of open space.
"Earth Day is an important time for environmental advocacy. Spring is here, and now more than ever people are recognizing the importance of a green Connecticut," said Schoen. "We have to take action now to ensure our environment is protected for generations to come. CTLCV is calling on all our lawmakers this Earth Day to take promises and turn them into policies. We need a green Connecticut."
Hartford, Conn. (April 18, 2019) – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is celebrating the amazing progress that Governor Ned Lamont and other Clean Energy Governors have made in their first 100 days in office by issuing a new report highlighting the many achievements being made at a breakneck pace. In the absence of leadership from the White House and the resistance to progress in the US Senate, Connecticut and other states are making significant moves forward toward 100 percent clean energy. The First 100 Days Clean Energy Report can be found here.
“We are excited to see Connecticut and Governor Lamont moving in the right direction. We have a real opportunity right now to transform our state into one that runs on clean energy, protects our natural resources and creates green collar jobs,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. “While the future looks promising, we still have a lot of work to do. With the White House and Senate uninterested in fighting climate change, we need Connecticut to think big and pass a Green Economy Act that moves us to 100% clean energy and jump starts our economy.”
The report focuses on major clean energy policy achievements made by Governor Lamont as well as newly elected governors Jared Polis (CO), J.B. Pritzker (IL), Janet Mills (ME), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Tim Walz (MN), Steve Sisolak (NV), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), and Tony Evers (WI) as well as newly re-elected Governor Kate Brown (OR). The report also features the on-the-ground work done by CTLCV and other LCV state affiliates.
LCV and state affiliates invested over $31 million in state and local races in the 2018 election cycle, almost triple investments in any previous cycle in our 50-year history.
“CTLCV endorsed Gov. Lamont during the 2018 elections because he was the only candidate who pledged to support 100% clean energy and had a plan to get us there,” said Amanda Schoen, Deputy Director of CTLCV. “Now it’s time to turn promises into policy. Gov. Lamont has already pledged to keep Connecticut in the Paris Climate Accords, invest in offshore wind, reduce waste, and create green jobs. As his policies and other environmental priorities make their way through the legislature, we will be watching.”
CTLCV regularly holds elected officials to their campaign promises for a green Connecticut with their Environmental Scorecard. Today, CTLCV has introduced the Lamont Policy Tracker to provide a real accounting of the current progress on the governor’s environmental agenda. The Policy Tracker can be found here.
Governor Lamont’s progress so far includes:
“In these governors’ first 100 days in office, they have already set an ambitious tone and pace for clean energy action, one state legislatures and the U.S. House are intent on matching,” said Gene Karpinski, President of LCV. “These Clean Energy for All champions know that the climate crisis is a problem of epic proportions that requires a level of ambition just as big. And they are not alone. The majority of people in this country want climate action, which is why candidates who ran on clean energy and addressing climate change won big in 2018.”
Lori Brown, CTLCV Executive Director | Originally published with the Hartford Courant
When it comes to fighting climate change, Connecticut lawmakers need to think bigger.
State lawmakers originally introduced the Green New Deal — now rebranded as the Green Economy Act — with the express goal of spurring investment in clean energy, creating “green collar” jobs and fighting climate change. Sometime between being introduced and getting voted out of the energy and technology committee, the Green Economy Act was changed to support little more than anaerobic digestion.
Capitol insiders will tell you this language is just a placeholder for things to come. They are likely right. As lawmakers sit down to draft the revised Green Economy Act, they must devise a truly comprehensive plan to tackle climate change and protect our future.
The Green Economy Act could be a game-changer if it holds true to a simple purpose: to promote an equitable transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050 or sooner.
This should not be a heavy lift. More than 120 candidates on both sides of the aisle supported this concept when the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters surveyed them in 2018.
Moving to 100 percent clean energy is also the cornerstone to any plan to stop climate change, and it involves more than just building an offshore wind farm or putting up solar panels. A truly green economy would also promote equity, lower emissions, invest in energy infrastructure, support resiliency efforts and be accountable to the public.
At the heart of the Green Economy Act are the good, local jobs that investment in clean energy will bring. We need to make sure low- and moderate-income communities have access to the training and tools to land these new jobs. If we invest in workforce development in clean energy, efficiency projects and other green fields, we can ensure everyone has access to the brighter future we want to build.
Lawmakers can also pair job creation with lower emissions. The existing “Lead By Example” program hopes to cut our state’s energy use by 40 percent by converting state buildings, highway lights and other assets to greener alternatives. These projects should favor Connecticut companies in the bidding process and support local labor while making our state more efficient.
Along with buildings, transit is one of the key contributors to greenhouse gases. Our Green Economy should focus on building infrastructure for electric vehicles, electrifying our state fleet, investing in mass transit and even offering state employees the choice of public transportation benefits instead of parking.
With all of the jobs to be had in electrification and clean energy, we also need to stop subsidizing dirty fossil fuels like fracked gas. An analysis by Synapse Energy has shown demand for natural gas is on the decline. Let it die. End the pipeline tax so Connecticut ratepayers won’t be forced to pay for a pipeline they won’t need — especially as we move forward with offshore wind development.
While we invest in the future, Connecticut cannot ignore the damage climate change has already done. We cannot grow a green economy while rising seas threaten our coastline and toxic emissions poison our air. We must invest in resiliency programs, conservation and open space. Our woodlands are natural carbon sinks, soaking up harmful greenhouse gases. Supporting the Natural Heritage Trust Program and the Open Space and Watershed Matching Grants would go a long way towards shrinking our carbon footprint.
Such an ambitious menu of policies cannot simply be passed then ignored. We need a guiding body to ensure these proposals are working as intended, that no community is left behind, and that we are making the necessary progress to fight climate change. Whether this means adapting the Governor’s Council on Climate Change or creating a new task force, we need to include community leaders, policy experts and stakeholders to realize our ambitions and create a future we can all believe in.
This is a tall order, but it’s not out of reach. Climate is a growing concern among young people, and it will likely be a key platform of the 2020 elections. Lawmakers who rose to power in 2018 have a mandate to do something big, to tackle the problems Washington wants to ignore. Thousands have rallied. They deserve to be heard.
It’s time to think big.