Advocates for a clean and healthy environment are prepared with a slate of legislative priorities to protect Connecticut’s environment through stronger laws and policies at the state level. The 2024 Connecticut General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Connecticut’s environmental leaders convene each year in advance of the state’s legislative session to identify top priorities of the many groups seeking stronger state laws and policies.
These are the collective priorities of many different coalitions of groups working together year after year, and which together make up the driving force behind CT’s climate and environmental agenda.
The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters has served as a convener for this collaboration. Ever since a small gathering of state environmental leaders met in 2020, the League’s annual Environmental Summit, held on Jan. 23 this year, has grown exponentially into a staple for advocates, lawmakers, and state leaders to identify and discuss key issues that are in the works for the session ahead.
CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown said the legislature’s lack of action last year on critical bills to advance clean air and climate change policies will be foremost in their minds during discussions with lawmakers.
“The environment — especially climate — did not make the progress we had hoped for in the last session of the Connecticut legislature,” Brown said. “We are now in the position of catching up with our neighboring states, and facing even more intense opposition from the gas and oil industry. They have been fueling misinformation and distrust to block the transition to clean energy and clean transportation in Connecticut and across the nation.”
Connecticut has a history as a leader among New England states in regard to advancing pro-environment policies for clean air and water.
“It is our job to hold lawmakers accountable for doing all they can to reduce air pollution, provide clean waterways and drinking water, and to address the overarching environmental threat of climate change,” said Brown.
*Food Waste Prevention
Chief among the priorities is updating the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act to set higher standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that will achieve science-based climate goals, and the need to address CT’s poor air quality. And nature-based solutions to climate change are seen as increasingly essential to comprehensive climate planning and many ecosystem benefit.
Considerable efforts will focus on legislation to update vehicle emissions standards to reduce tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks. Vehicle emissions are considered a significant and measurable threat to public health and the environment.
“We want to align with science-based goals for a clean environment by advancing the full potential of solar energy, expanding clean heating and cooling technology such as heat pumps, and creating carbon-free schools,” Brown said. “We need legislators to replenish energy efficiency programs, which also will support environmental justice efforts by updating urban and low income housing infrastructure so people can access energy efficiency programs.”
Key to working toward a cleaner environment on a large scale is revisiting the debate over adoption of electric vehicle regulations, which were pulled from consideration by Gov. Ned Lamont late last year in the face of opposition funded by fossil fuel interests.
The groups also are aligned in support of offshore wind as a key component for reaching the state’s decarbonization goals.
Addressing the presence of PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances), known as “forever chemicals,” and the need to eliminate them from the environment and our drinking water is also a priority. Items ranging from clothing and food packaging to nonstick pans, stain-resistant carpets, furniture and more are commonly made with PFAS, which are toxic to human health and wildlife.
Environmentalists will urge legislators to adopt policies to reduce or eliminate the widespread use of pesticides. This includes rodenticides which are lethal to birds of prey, and neonicotinoids (“neonics”) which are linked to widespread decline of pollinators.
Legislation to help reduce the state’s waste stream by diverting food waste from general waste will also be sought. Food waste is estimated to make up 22% of the waste stream, which ends up incinerated, added to landfills or shipped out of state at great cost to taxpayers.
“This year, we have a great deal of work to accomplish in a short amount of time. The 2024 session is short, ending on May 8, which means we must be well prepared and ready to go from day one,” Brown said. “We will be looking for large turnouts during public hearings from advocates across the state, and support from our legislative champions during committee debates in the Assembly.”
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