Details of the long-awaited Green Economy Act (HB 5002) underwhelm environmentalists
Hartford, CT – Despite the promise of a bold plan to create a Green Economy for Connecticut, the unveiled HB 5002 failed to deliver real solutions for our climate crisis. While the bill includes important provisions to fix solar net-metering, it falls short of expectations on transitioning to 100% renewable energy, expanding access to energy efficiency funds, stopping upcoming diversions, combating methane leaks, ending our reliance on fracked gas, or providing more accountability and oversight.
“For months CTLCV and a coalition of environmental advocates have worked with lawmakers, officials at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and members of the Lamont administration on proposals that would fight our climate crisis while spurring economic development,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV). “The bill unveiled today fails to deliver on any of the proposals we discussed. While it includes an important fix for residential solar customers, it falls far short of expectations on every other front. Though hundreds of thousands of Connecticut ratepayers struggle to pay their energy bills, the Green Economy Act leaves them behind. Though dozens of other states have set goals to move to 100% clean energy, Connecticut remains uncommitted. Though lawmakers promised bold action on our climate crisis, those promises remain unfulfilled.”
CTLCV and other climate advocates have met regularly with lawmakers on a Green Economy Act that would:
“Now is the time for our climate champions to step up and submit amendments that would deliver real solutions,” said Amanda Schoen, Deputy Director of CTLCV. “Hundreds of lawmakers took our survey during the 2018 election and committed to clear climate policies. The Green Economy Act was the perfect opportunity to follow through on those promises. Lawmakers heard not just from advocates, but from the thousands of Connecticut residents who marched, rallied, wrote letters, flooded their offices with calls, and sent emails asking for real climate action. There is no excuse for ignoring the most pressing crisis facing our generation. Real climate champions can still act, but the clock is ticking.”
Hartford, CT - With less than two weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, the General Assembly has yet to act on climate and clean energy legislation before them. A coalition of climate, clean energy, and environmental advocates are urging the legislature to take bold action to fight climate change and provide an equitable transition to a clean energy economy for Connecticut.
Background: House and Senate leadership and Chairs of the Energy and Technology Committee are in the process of amending the New Green Economy bill this week for action in the coming days. It is uncertain how the bill will be amended and which priorities may or may not be included for consideration.
The advocates and organizations calling for action on these issues are the following:
Acadia Center – Amy Mclean Salls 860-246-7121 ext 204
Citizens Campaign for the Environment – Louis Rosado Burch 475-434-1606
Clean Water Action – Anne Hulick 860-232-6232
Connecticut Citizen Action Group – Tom Swan- 860-729-5712
Connecticut League of Conservation Voters – Amanda Schoen 860-770-9487
CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound – Leah Schmalz 203-787-0646 ext 121
Efficiency For All – Jennifer Dionne
Energy Efficiencies Solutions – Rebecca Castro Baez
Environment Connecticut – Chris Phelps 860-836-9353
Green Eco Warriors – Edgardo Mejias
The Nature Conservancy – David Sutherland 860-508-0222
Sierra Club Connecticut – Samantha Dynowski 860-916-3639
"A pro-environment majority swept into office in the 2018 elections with a mandate to do something about our climate crisis," said Lori Brown, Executive Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. "Thousands of Connecticut residents have rallied, marched, signed petitions, and demanded action to create a green economy, but many in the legislature are slow to move. The proposals we've suggested for the Green Economy have broad, bipartisan support and would help lower energy costs, end our reliance on fossil fuels, and promote an equitable transition to clean energy. It's time for our lawmakers to take a stand."
"States from coast to coast are taking action to fight climate change with bold steps such as committing to 100 percent renewable and zero carbon energy," said Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut State Director. "Connecticut's families and businesses can't afford for the legislature to fail to act on climate and clean energy in 2019," said Chris Phelps, Environment Connecticut.
"This Bill was introduced on the first day of the legislative session with a promise of significant climate action and job creation. Unfortunately, it now looks like this promise will not be kept. The people of Connecticut deserve better and I urge lawmakers to make this legislation truly meaningful," said Ann Gadwah, Chapter Chair, Sierra Club Connecticut.
"Connecticut stands at an energy crossroads- we can either move forward as a state by investing in clean, renewable energy and efficiency, or we can remain shackled to the outdated fuel sources of the past," said Louis Rosado Burch, CT Program Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "What we need now is real leadership from our elected leaders, not empty rhetoric and promises. We can no longer afford to be fossil fools! By advancing policies like real community solar, and making meaningful investments in offshore wind, we can build a New Green Economy for Connecticut, and begin the transition away from dirty energy sources that pollute our air & water and impact our health."
"The energy affordability gap in Connecticut is a huge burden on many households, therefore it is important that we decrease energy waste through residential efficiency programs while we simultaneously increase our clean energy resources. This is the best path to closing the affordability gap while keeping our economy and our environment front and center," said Leticia Colon de Mejias, Efficiency for All.
"Connecticut, once a climate leader, has become a climate laggard. But that can change: new climate goals established last year require bold climate action this year. This suite of policies, along with a several other critical bills currently before the legislature, will slash climate pollution, build a green economy, and save families and businesses money. We urge our legislators to finish this session with a clear climate conscience," said Leah Schmalz, chief program officer of CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound.
"Climate Change is the most pervasive threat facing our world today. Fortunately, some of the initiatives that would most effectively address it would also provide opportunities to create high-quality jobs and transform our economy," said David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations – The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut Chapter.
"Remaking the transportation and energy systems must be a core part of Connecticut’s new economic strategy. Newly- unleashed investment and innovation will drive economic progress, improved quality of life, and more equitable benefits for all residents and communities. Legislator’s hold the key to passing good energy policy and the time is now," said Amy Mclean Salls, CT Director and Senior Policy Advocate, Acadia Center.
A coalition of community and environmental conservation organizations rallied at the Capitol today to call on legislators to halt the pending raid of the Energy Effiecncy Fund. In June, $54 million is scheduled to be diverted from the fund, jeopardizing approximately 6,800 Connecticut green collar jobs.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Efficiency for All, Clean Water Action, and Connecticut Fund for the Environment each circulated petitions signed by over 2,000 Connecticut residents from 116 towns. Along with members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and Youth Climate Strikers, advocates presented these petitions to the Governor as well as leaders in the State House and Senate.
“Connecticut has spoken, and we want to stop this diversion to not only save ratepayers money, but also ensure our state is being efficient with our energy usage while creating good-paying, local jobs,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. “Governor Lamont and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for an end to the raids, and they have the power to stop it. The people of our state want them to put promises into action. Now is the time.”
The signatures were gathered to stop the raid of $54 million from the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund (CEEF), a program to support Connecticut residents and businesses as they seek to save money and fight climate change by increasing the accessibility of energy efficient options. The pending June diversion is on top of a sweep in 2018 that has already cost jobs, closed businesses, and denied access to money-saving efficiency services for low- and middle-income households.
Comments from supporting organizations:
Amanda Schoen, Deputy Director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters: "Hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents struggle to pay their energy bills. The Energy Efficiency Fund is critical to helping them lower their rates while also cutting our carbon footprint and supporting over thirty-four thousand good, local clean energy jobs. Our lawmakers have said they want to make energy more affordable, fight climate change, and grow our economy. That starts with putting an end to the upcoming diversion of the Energy Efficiency Fund before it's too late."
Leticia Colon de Mejias, Chair of Efficiency for All and Chispa Director for the CTLCV Education Fund: "Diverting our state energy efficiency funds is undermining our state’s ability to lower energy burdens on electric ratepayers. Efficiency doesn’t just make dollars; it makes sense. These programs are paid for by the Connecticut ratepayers and should be used to serve the ratepayers needs to lower their energy waste and energy burdens. Our leaders can take simple action to stop the pending diversions through a budget amendment which would restore the funds."
Anne Hulick, State Director for Clean Water Action: "Connecticut residents have spoken! Raiding the energy efficiency and clean energy funds that come directly from a surcharge on ratepayer's electric bills was a hidden tax. These funds not only help residents reduce energy demand, lower bills and improve the health and safety of homes, they help to reduce carbon pollution. We're urging the Governor and Legislature to stop the pending June diversion and protect these funds for their intended purpose."
Leah Schmalz, Chief Program Officer, Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound: “Fully replenishing and protecting the energy efficiency and clean energy funds will curtail both short and long-term economic damage. It also signals Connecticut’s commitment to efficiency and clean energy businesses, climate commitments, public health, and citizens’ wallets.”
Rep. Geraldo Reyes (D-Waterbury): “I live in Waterbury and am an active stakeholder in our communities. We are plagued by serial polluters and absentee landlords who let their blighted properties drag down our neighborhoods. Environmental justice and enforcement is a quality of life issue for my constituents.”
Rep. Michael Winkler (D-Vernon): “Energy efficiency leads to a cooler, less polluted planet. It’s also a jobs program. It would be hard to think of a better investment for our money.”
Rep. David Michel (D-Stamford): "We have right in front of us, the perfect example of what the green new deal could be with the offshore wind power. You can replace the use of fossil fuels, create hundreds to thousands of jobs, and offer a better price to the rate payers. However we have to be mindful that there are different ways this could be done and I am confident our new administration and our leadership will help with not only the creation of those jobs but also with the protection of the marine life ecosystem of the North Atlantic region. This is the future, where our labor unions can work in unison with our environmentalists."