In 2018 the CT legislature once again fell short in recognizing the emergency of the climate crisis and missed the opportunity to make our state a leader in clean energy. We are fortunate in the state that vocal climate deniers are rare but inaction in policy is just as dangerous to our ecosystem as the proverbial hot air coming from those who reject the scientific consensus.
The legislative calendar began with some hope for progress on clean energy, mass transit, and climate justice. There were more than a dozen bills proposed and submitted to different committees. These potential laws and regulations ranged from carbon fee/dividend and penalties for gas pipeline leaks to expanding community solar(to everyone) and emission reduction goals. While there were benefits and drawbacks to these pieces of legislation and worthy conversations to be had on the best way to implement them, this is not what happened. After the committee process and the legislative leaders decided on what would and would not be voted on we only saw 3 significant climate related bills that could be approved :
S.B. No. 7 : An Act Concerning Climate Change Planning & Resiliency
S.B. No. 9 : AN ACT CONCERNING CONNECTICUT’S ENERGY FUTURE
S.B. 336 : AN ACT CONCERNING COMMUNITY SHARED SOLAR.
The multiple provisions of these bills contained some positive aspects : raising the Renewable Portfolio Standard (the amount of clean energy utilities must procure) to 40% by 203, expanding solar access to more CT residents, eliminating procurement of energy from fracked methane gas, and setting a better interim target of 45% pollution emission reduction by 2030. However these positive steps did not signify the CT government shifting away from using fossil fuels and embracing the life saving, job creating, cost lowering society that would result from an all out focus on a pollution free society.
Furthermore, these minimum reforms to our energy system were too radical for some legislators unwilling to imagine a future society different from the past and present. These bills were endlessly resisted and amended to weaken them and delay the necessary and inevitable transition to solar, wind and other emission free energy sources. The community shared solar bill was completely erased and replaced with legislation dealing with broadband internet. SB 7 was saddled with a Eversource, United Illuminating and industry backed gutting of Net Metering(or Electric Price Equality) so that they don’t have to pay solar power produces a fair price for the service they provide all of the state’s residents. In a time when the solar industry is expanding in CT , providing good safe jobs for the people that cannot be outsourced and reducing our need for expensive, volatile , imported fossil fuels WHY would our representatives seek to slow that growth and make it harder to switch to solar?
It is clear that, while there are climate champions in CT, the majority of our legislators are ignorant or willfully blind to the escalating danger of climate disruption to our state, our country and it’s people. Have they forgotten SuperStorm Sandy that ravaged our coast and caused damage that is still being repaired? Have they not noticed the rising temperatures that caused May 2018 to be the fourth hottest on record according to The Weather Channel? How can they avoid seeing the devastation in Puerto Rico and the hundreds of CT families affected by the ongoing tragedy on that American island? Will they only realize the massive cost in money, property and people’s lives when it happens to them? Because it is happening to all of us and none of us will be spared from a climate that is no longer hospitable to our species.
The CT government needs to wake up and realize that change around the edges will not be enough to deal with the climate crisis. We need to reshape our state to depend on clean energy for power and transportation and we need to start now. We have the technology to do it, we have the union workers to build it and we have the opportunity to lead. We just need the leaders to realize we’re all in the together and when we take mass action we can become those leaders. 350 CT continues to demand an end to the fossil fuel era and a just transition to 100% clean renewable energy with a powerful march and rally the weekend of Sept 9th in addition to joining with other environmental groups to pressure candidates for CT governor to enact this transition at a forum on July 12th.(Update: Forum date has been changed to July 16th.)