Hartford, CT – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) has endorsed Baird Welch-Collins (D) to represent the 38th House District. A third-generation resident of Waterford, he has been passionately involved in local environmental politics.
Through a variety of responsibilities serving the Waterford town government, he demonstrated leadership on environmental priorities. He most recently served on the Waterford Flood and Erosion Control Board, where he took action on the pollutants threatening the streams and rivers in the region. While serving, he initiated legislation to ban fracking waste and galvanized support for a local single-use plastic bag ban.
“Baird has already shown powerful leadership at the local level, where he fought for a municipal ban on both single-use plastic bags and on fracking waste,” said CTLCV Executive Director Lori Brown. “Baird has shown ongoing support for open space and land conservation. He has been a strong advocate for a clean energy economy and for sustainable development. He leads by example and is certain to become a champion for Connecticut’s families and the environment.”
Baird Welch-Collins has a record for prioritizing open spaces and aims to protect the green spaces in the District. He is passionate about sustainable land management, updating our outdated transportation system, and adopting the best land use practices.
He understands the important role that Millstone Power Plant has played in the District, and he wants to take an active role representing the District as the future of the plant is discussed. He understands how complex the future of the plant can be, and he wants to be at the table to represent the residents in his District to guarantee that their voices are heard. He is committed to transitioning to a Green energy economy, which will create thousands of new jobs. He also recognizes the threats that Southeastern Connecticut’s waterways face with pollutants and toxins, and his commitment to protecting drinking water runs deep. Many residents in Montville and Waterford have already seen Baird Welch-Collins’ leadership at the local level, and know he will be a highly capable Representative for the District’s unique needs.
“Baird Welch-Collins has served as a strong voice for neighbors in his District,” said Brown. “He understands the challenges that they face, and he is committed to creating thousands of new Green jobs to help both workers and Connecticut’s clean energy future. Baird is passionate about serving his community, and he will make an excellent Representative. The District deserves a strong leader like him.”
CTLCV endorsements are based on candidates’ track records on key environmental issues, their responses to a Survey on the Environment, and an extensive interview via Zoom. CTLCV is a bipartisan, statewide, non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Connecticut's environment by making it a priority for our elected leaders. We work in concert with Connecticut's environmental advocacy groups to identify and highlight important bills impacting our air, water, wildlife, open space, climate, and our health, and hold legislators accountable for their votes in our annual Environmental Scorecard.
A complete list of all of the candidates endorsed by CTLCV for the 2020 election can be found on our website.
Condemns Recent Dedication of Volkswagen Settlement Fund to Diesel-Powered Buses
Hartford, Conn. – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) is concerned about the recent announcement regarding the second round of grants from the $6 million in Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds. While a small portion of funding will go to electric vehicles, over $4.7 million will replace pollution and greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles with more diesel and fossil fuel-powered ones.
"Diesel emissions contribute directly to Connecticut’s notoriously bad air quality and high asthma rates," said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. "When VW cheated on their emissions test, the settlement they signed with our state and others was intended to minimize the impacts of diesel fumes. Unfortunately, the majority of the second round of grant funds will go toward replacing old diesel-powered buses with more diesel. While we are glad to see the state take some first steps toward electric vehicles, we are missing a huge opportunity to fully commit to electric vehicles. By replacing old diesel-powered vehicles with new ones, Connecticut is only halfheartedly protecting the air we breathe."
While the majority of the VW settlement funds were directed toward more diesel and gas-powered vehicles, CTLCV with the assistance of the Rockfall Foundation supported the successful grant application of Dattco to replace a diesel school bus in Middletown with an electric bus. CTLCV has been working to replace dirty diesel school buses with clean electric vehicles part of its Clean Buses for Healthy Niños campaign. Investing the VW funds in electric school buses will help our children—particularly those in low-income communities and communities of color—by limiting their exposure to toxic fumes.
“Asthma rates and other respiratory diseases are dramatically on the rise in Connecticut, particulary in low-income communities and communities of color,” said CTLCV Middletown Organizer Jeff Hush. “When kids struggle to breathe, they can miss class and fall behind. Cleaning up the air they breathe is critical to giving them every opportunity to succeed. We hope this electric school bus will be the first of many.”
The $6 million came from a 2015 scandal in which the German automaker violated the Clean Air Act by intentionally programming their vehicles to only activate their emission control systems during laboratory emissions testing. Out of the resulting settlement, Volkswagen is to pay $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure, of which Connecticut receives $6 million.
“Electrifying our school buses and other public transit must be a top priority to protect our public health,” said Brown. “We sincerely hope the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Lamont Adminsitration will provide additional resources to support every effort to clean up our air and our public fleet.”
Hartford, Conn. (November 18, 2019) – The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) today released the 2019 Environmental Scorecard, a comprehensive review of the major environmental victories, challenges, wins and losses for Connecticut’s environment during the 2019 legislative session. CTLCV closely follows the voting record of each Connecticut senator and representative to determine the 2019 score, with 100% being a flawless supporter of Connecticut’s environment.
“The 2019 session was a major year for environmental policy in Connecticut, with the passage of the new plastic bag restrictions and greater investments into renewable energies,” said Lori Brown, Executive Director of CTLCV. “We saw many freshman lawmakers making real change in environmental policy, and we want to thank all of our environmental champions for their work. However, there are still many lawmakers who rank very low, and we hope to see them do better next session.”
“Connecticut has been paving the way forward as an environmental leader under the destructive Trump administration. Our state and federal lawmakers and representatives are fighting for our clean air, earth and water every day,” said Deputy Director of CTLCV Amanda Schoen. “We saw scores rise across the 2019 legislative session, and the Lamont administration has proven that we can make a real, long-lasting change while we fight for a sustainable future.”
While there were many accomplishments during the 2019 session, there were many critical bills that did not make it through the committees or the legislature. CTLCV anticipates seeing a return of the Bottle Bill, PFAs and additional measures addressing climate change during the 2020 session and will be counting on the continued support of their environmental sessions. For more information about critical environmental bills and to see how your representative scored in the 2019 scorecard, visit CTLCV.org/Scorecard.
Hartford, Conn. (October 29, 2019) - In response to a request for public comment from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), CTLCV submitted the following letter on Governor Lamont's Executive Order No. 3. You can also download the letter as a PDF.
October 29, 2019
Commissioner Katie Dykes
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm St
Hartford, CT 06106
Dear Commissioner Dykes,
Thank you for the opportunity to provide public comment on Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 3 to strengthen Connecticut’s commitment to a decarbonized electric grid and support our state’s efforts to combat climate change. We at the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) are excited to see the administration setting bold goals in the face of the looming threat of our climate crisis.
Governor’s Council on Climate Change
As part of Executive Order No. 3, Gov. Lamont indicated he would expand and strengthen the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3). The original GC3 was instrumental in setting Connecticut’s carbon reduction goals, but that is not to say it is beyond improvement. Advocates including CTLCV were quick to indicate that many important voices were not included on the GC3. We hope to see that rectified here.
CTLCV strongly recommends that the GC3 be composed of a diverse group of stakeholders, including, but not limited to local and statewide lawmakers, community leaders, climate scientists, economists, labor representatives, and business leaders. In particular, the GC3 should include representatives from marginalized and disenfranchised communities. These groups often face the brunt of pollution and climate change, but they are often left out of decision-making processes aimed at addressing these issues. If the GC3 is to truly offer guidance on addressing the impact of climate change, it must first have a full accounting of those impacts from communities that would feel them most potently.
Decarbonizing Our Electric Grid
CTLCV also applauds the Executive Order’s directive to decarbonize our state’s electric grid. That is a laudable goal, and one we hope to see reflect Governor Lamont’s pledge to transition our state to 100% clean energy.
There are many pathways to a zero-carbon future, but the clearest is a commitment to clean energy. Connecticut’s recent procurement of 2,000 MW of offshore wind energy is a fine start, representing roughly a third of our state’s energy needs. However, we must be prepared to meet our Renewable Portfolio Standards goals of 40% clean energy by 2030. We should also plan for the potential decommissioning of the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in the next ten years. Millstone represents a third of our energy needs, and is currently the largest provider of zero-carbon electricity in the state. If Connecticut does not put a plan in place now, we could be forced to turn to fossil fuels like fracked gas to meet our energy needs. That is not in keeping with Executive Order No. 3 or our previous commitments.
CTLCV strongly opposes investments in fossil fuels—such as the new fracked gas power plant planned in Killingly. This power plant would not be in keeping with the Governor’s zero-carbon proposal, nor would it help us lower carbon emissions. While we recognize the need for reliable energy even when the wind is not blowing or the sun is not shining, CTLCV urges Connecticut to invest instead in energy efficiency and battery storage. By both decreasing the amount of energy we use and investing in new ways to store electricity, we can ensure reliability even during peak times without turning to fossil fuels.
These investments in energy efficiency should include equal access to programs, regardless of heating fuel type. Connecticut should also seek to expand access to energy efficiency programs by considering ways to implement automatic enrollment. For instance, households eligible for SNAP, WIC, or HUSKY benefits could be automatically enrolled in our energy efficiency programs. Not only would this reduce the draw on our electric grid, it could reduce the cost of electricity for the roughly 400,000 households struggling to pay their energy bills.
CTLCV also encourages Connecticut to increase its clean, renewable energy procurements. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and other New England states have begun construction on their own offshore wind facilities. We could look for ways to partner with the other states of ISO New England to issue a joint procurement of offshore wind, thus driving costs down while ensuring we can all meet our energy needs.
Additionally, Connecticut should increase its investments in solar energy, particularly shared solar programs for those who live in apartments, condos, or other facilities where traditional rooftop solar panels would not be feasible. Currently, our community solar program is burdened by overly restrictive rules such as preventing unused energy from rolling over to subsequent years. There are also restrictive caps on the amount of solar energy participants can procure. Connecticut should loosen the reins on community solar to allow this program to expand, giving more households the chance to tap into clean energy and potentially lower their costs.
Investments in clean energy are certainly important, but further funding for resiliency and carbon sequestration are equally critical, but funds for land conservation are often the first to be raided in times of budget shortfalls. Forests and open space act as critical carbon sinks. Connecticut should stop diverting funds from programs like the Community Investment Act to ensure we can protect our forests from development.
Furthermore, we must ensure our towns and communities—particularly on our vulnerable coastlines—have the resources they need to make necessary upgrades and improve natural buffers. Hurricanes and superstorms have ravaged Connecticut in the past. Climate change ensures these storms will hit again, and the damage could be catastrophic. It is much more cost-effective to invest in resiliency now rather than major repairs in the wake of a superstorm.
Connecticut must also think of the broader picture. To fight climate change and build a zero-carbon future, we must be prepared to take bold action. There are a myriad of goals we could set and programs we could expand, including:
There is no shortage of steps to take to build the zero-carbon future Gov. Lamont outlined in Executive Order No. 3. If the will is there, Connecticut could cement our standing as a national leader in the clean energy future. We could make investments that will not only help us turn back the clock on climate change, but also create green collar jobs and lower our massively high electric rates.
Thank you again for the opportunity to submit these comments. We at CTLCV look forward to working with you and the entire Lamont Administration in the days to come.
CTLCV Condemns Administration's Decision to Override Emission Standards
Hartford, Conn. (September 18, 2019) – Today, the EPA and the Trump Administration announced the revocation of California's authority to set its own automobile emissions standards. This decision blocks states like Connecticut from setting more stringent environmental protections than federal law requires. Given the number and severity of environmental rollbacks from the Trump Administration, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) strongly protests this attack.
If Trump gets his way, Connecticut’s notoriously bad air quality could get even worse,” said Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) Executive Director Lori Brown. “We are already at risk for significant emissions from traffic in New York and Massachusetts. After all, air pollution does not recognize state lines. Our state leaders recognized the impact of pollution from cars and trucks, which is why we passed stricter emission laws. Forcing us to comply with lax federal standards is a direct attack on our public health.”
Under the California standard, states set tighter emissions standards and the state regulation became the nationwide standard for automakers adapted to ensure their vehicles can be operated nationwide. Connecticut adopted the regulations in 2004 under public act 04-84, which affected cars with the model year of 2008 and newer. Under this rollback, automakers would no longer have to comply with the tighter state standards.
This is just one more reckless attack on our environment, our health, and our future,” said CTLCV Deputy Director Amanda Schoen. “Transportation emissions are one of the leading contributors to our climate crisis, so not only is this rollback an attack on our public health, but it could also worsen our climate crisis.”
Environmental advocates have criticized the reasoning behind this decision, which claimed that the California law was the gold standard for the nation. Four auto makers—Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW—already signed agreements to honor the California standards, demonstrating that even industry recognizes the importance of cutting carbon emissions.
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.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.