CTLCV Supports Lamont's Executive Order for 100 Percent Zero-Carbon Target by 2040
Hartford, Conn. (September 3, 2019) – Today, Governor Lamont announced his third executive order, which calls for the expansion of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) and sets the goal for Connecticut to achieve a 100 percent zero-carbon target for Connecticut’s energy market by 2040. This executive order lays the groundwork for implementing further carbon mitigation strategies in Connecticut and builds on our goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide by 45 percent by 2030.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) joined over 80 other Connecticut environmental advocates in Hartford to discuss the executive order with Governor Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes and ask questions about how this will impact Connecticut towns. During the announcement, Governor Lamont acknowledged that climate change is an imminent and urgent threat and that he plans for Connecticut to be a national leader in climate action.
“We were thrilled to hear that Connecticut is moving closer to a zero-carbon future and that the Lamont administration is taking the issue of climate change seriously,” said CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown. “Under Governor Malloy, the GC3 made carbon reduction a priority—but many important stakeholders and community leaders were left without a seat at the table. We are thrilled to see this revamped committee will include experts in environmental justice and equity as well as more community inclusion.”
Under this newest executive order, the Council will have the responsibility to monitor and report on Connecticut’s progress towards reducing carbon emissions and preparing for the developing impacts of climate change. To accomplish this, the Council will be developing new groups to better monitor and report on Connecticut’s resilience and mitigation strategies. This Council will report directly to the Governor on an annual basis beginning January of 2021.
“We need a zero carbon, clean energy economy to fight our climate crisis and grow green collar jobs,” said CTLCV Deputy Director, Amanda Schoen. “This last session, CTLCV helped build support for the new 2,000 MW procurement of offshore wind, which represents a third of our state’s power production. This new executive order lays the groundwork for additional procurements in renewables and could even set the stage for regional collaboration on clean energy projects. We were also encouraged by the Governor’s commitment to energy efficiency, and hope this will translate to stronger support for programs that draw down our energy consumption and help hundreds of thousands of struggling households pay their energy bills.”
Hartford, CT - The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) issued the following testimony in support of the state's pursuit of new offshore wind facilities. You can also download this testimony as a PDF.
Commissioner Katie Dykes
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Commissioner Dykes,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the procurement of new offshore wind facilities in accordance with Section 1 of Public Act 19-71 (HB 7156) An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind. We at the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) are excited to see our state taking bold action to invest in clean energy, combat climate change, and meet our carbon emission reduction targets.
Connecticut has been called both the Saudi Arabia and the Wild West of offshore wind. These comparisons allude to the rich, untapped potential of offshore wind—but they are also a warning against the reckless pursuit of a new commodity without properly accounting for the risks. CTLCV supports many of the recommendations made by the Commission on Environmental Standards, particularly those aimed at protecting wildlife.
As our state considers proposals for offshore wind facilities, CTLCV respectfully asks you to give particular consideration to the following concerns:
We must take care not to let the urgent need to solve our climate crisis create additional repercussions for our environment. The location and construction of these new turbines will certainly impact marine life. Our fishing and tourism industries rely on this ecosystem to thrive. Furthermore, whales and other apex wildlife are indicators of ocean health—especially in relation to climate change. Threats to their populations could also cost us the advance warning we need to stave off future crises.
We have been greatly encouraged to hear many legislators, officials, and developers talking frankly and seriously about the environmental impacts of offshore wind. Clean energy is clearly the future for our economy and our planet, and we have the responsibility to lay a strong groundwork for successful, responsible projects to come.
Thank you for considering these comments and for keeping the environment at the top of your mind as you evaluate proposals.
Executive Director, CTLCV
Hartford, Conn. (June 6, 2019) – With the regular legislative session now over, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) applauds the passage of major environmental bills that will help our state reduce pollution, protect our natural resources, and fight climate change.
“Having a pro-environmental majority in the General Assembly has made all the difference when it comes to passing strong policies and fighting dangerous rollbacks,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. “This year, our champions from previous sessions were joined by new freshmen who are passionate about protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and future we believe in. Though many new lawmakers faced a packed agenda and a steep learning curve, they rose to the occasion to score real victories for our environment.”
Major environmental wins include:
In addition to these wins, Connecticut also preserved funding for the Community Investment Account, dramatically reduced planned cuts to Passport to Parks, and did not implement further diversions to the Energy Efficiency Fund. However, the pending $54 million diversion from the Energy Efficiency Fund was not repealed despite repeated public outcry and the efforts of numerous lawmakers.
“Lawmakers began this session with an ambitious and diverse agenda,” said Amanda Schoen, Deputy Director of CTLCV. “With other hot-button issues on the table, it seemed at times like the environment was an afterthought. But our members stayed vocal and our champions in the legislature didn’t back down, and even with ten minutes to go until the end of session, they delivered huge wins for clean water, clean energy, and climate action.”
In addition to the many wins for the environment, CTLCV also helped stop proposed rollbacks or weakening of environmental protection laws.
“Last session, we had to fight tooth and nail to stop bad bills all session long,” said Brown. “This year, though we saw attempts to undermine the bedrock of our environmental laws—the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act—and the return of old threats like Consent Orders and 90-day automatic permitting, our champions swatted down those attacks early, and those bad bills never resurfaced.”
Though the 2019 legislative session delivered decisive wins for the environment, it was not without a few defeats as well. In addition to the pending diversion of Energy Efficiency funds, this session brought other losses:
“Overall, lawmakers delivered real wins for the environment, and even our losses helped us advance major issues and give us goals to work towards next session,” said Schoen. “Our freshmen champions are eager to protect our environment for the next generation. They saw the outpouring of support from members of CTLCV and our partner organizations, and how deeply these issues affect us all. We look forward to building on these victories as we go forward.”
A full accounting of environmental legislation and lawmakers’ votes will be released in CTLCV’s Environmental Scorecard later this summer.
CTLCV Applauds Connecticut’s Commitment to Renewable Energy
Hartford, Conn. (June 4, 2019) – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) applauds the Senate’s passage of Connecticut’s first major investment in offshore wind. The bill, HB 7156, would require the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to begin soliciting bids for up to 2,000 MW from renewable offshore wind sources within the next 14 days. It includes protections for labor as well as mitigation for wildlife and environmental impacts, making it one of the strongest offshore wind bills in the nation. Governor Ned Lamont has already pledged his support for this bill, which will position Connecticut as a leader in clean energy and provide a plan to transition away from fossil fuels.
“Offshore wind is the key to fighting climate change, creating jobs, and lowering energy costs, and we at CTLCV are thrilled to see it pass with such strong bipartisan support,” said CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown. “This bill shows Governor Lamont and the General Assembly are thinking about our future. Investing in offshore wind now means we will have clean alternatives to fossil fuels, natural gas, and nuclear energy in the decades to come. It will create green collar jobs in both the development and maintenance of new windfarms—all of which will be done with an eye to mitigating impacts on wildlife and the environment. Our green economy starts today.”
On Tuesday, May 14 the Connecticut House of Representatives moved the offshore wind bill forward with a vote of 134 – 10, sending the message that Connecticut is ready for offshore wind. Today, the Connecticut State Senate unanimously approved by a vote of 36-0, moving the bill forward for Governor Lamont’s signature.
“Our environmental champions on both sides of the aisle worked hard to make offshore wind a reality,” said CTLCV Deputy Director Amanda Schoen. “This is what real climate action looks like. Governor Lamont made it clear at our Environmental Summit and in his budget address that he would move our state into a clean energy future, and we applaud him for his leadership. Our champions in the legislature answered his call, and the result is one of the strongest, most environmentally friendly offshore wind bills in the nation.”
This bill comes after the recent announcement that $93 million will be invested into State Pier in New London to upgrade the pier as a center of the offshore wind industry in the Northeast. Upgrades to the pier are expected to begin in January of 2020 and be completed by March of 2023. Construction of Revolution Wind, the currently planned wind farm just south of Martha’s Vineyard, is scheduled begin in late 2023.
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."
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.
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