PRESS RELEASE: CT Coalition for Climate Action connects with state legislators on Day of Action in Hartford

Hartford, CT—The CT Coalition for Climate Action is holding a Day of Action in Hartford today to connect constituents with their state legislators and demand crucial climate action to hold the state accountable for greenhouse gas reduction promises made in the Global Warming Solutions Act.

A press conference this morning featured Representative Christine Palm; Representative Brandon Chafee, on behalf of the legislature’s Climate Caucus; Representative Aundré Bumgardner; Charles Rothenberger of Save the Sound; Dr. Sanjiv Godse of CT Health Professionals for Climate Action; Terri Eickel of  Interreligious Eco-Justice Network; and Kimmy Reindl of Sunrise Movement CT. Speakers called on legislators to act on several proposed bills before the end of this session that would have meaningful climate outcomes. Coalition members attending the Day of Action are now bringing their message of action and accountability straight to their senators’ and representatives’ doors.

Among this session’s proposed climate legislation is HB 6397 An Act Concerning Zero-Carbon Emissions, which will provide greater direction to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) climate planning process by requiring the agency to develop a roadmap laying out the policies and regulations that will be necessary to reach our climate goals, and providing a timeline for implementing those polices. While the bill falls short of the comprehensive legislative action that is needed, it is a step in the right direction, and we hope that it will provide a base upon which to build support for strong climate legislation next session.

Sections 17 & 20 of SB 4 An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Present and Future Housing Needs establish a pilot program providing grants for certain multi-family buildings built before 1980 in state-designated environmental justice communities for retrofit projects that either improve energy efficiency or remediate health and safety concerns. This grant program will allow low-income families to benefit from healthier homes and energy efficiency savings, giving Connecticut residents more opportunities to save money on utility bills while conserving energy. Residential buildings account for 19% of the state’s emissions, and Connecticut low-income households experience a disproportionate energy burden.

SB 979 An Act Concerning the Establishment of the CT Home Energy Label… requires landlords of certain rental units to provide a label giving the unit’s energy efficiency score to prospective tenants, enabling residents to make choices that will reduce their energy costs and incentivizing investment in efficiency upgrades.

Finally, SB 1147 An Act Concerning the Environmental Justice Program of DEEP strengthens Connecticut’s Environmental Justice law by requiring that cumulative impacts are given due weight in permitting processes, giving community members a voice in negotiations, and authorizing mitigation requirements to limit harm to the impacted area. Passage of SB 1147 would give vulnerable neighborhoods healthier air, cleaner water, and a more resilient future.

One key piece of climate legislation failed to clear the committee process. SB 1145 An Act Concerning Establishment of Sector Specific Subtargets For Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions… would have ensured that action by the state matched the promises it has made by giving agencies the tools they need to implement existing law. This bill would have brought Connecticut up to pace with our neighboring jurisdictions in establishing the foundation for necessary action to address the climate crisis. The failure of the General Assembly to pass SB 1145 is an abdication of its duty to responsibly address climate change.

Please see below for quotations from state legislators, coalition partners, and other concerned environmental groups.  

“Now more than ever, it is time for Connecticut to take serious action in combating climate change,” said Representative Brandon Chafee, chair of the Climate Caucus. “Many residents agree that the state legislature needs to take a more aggressive stance on enacting policies to meet our climate goals. The science is clear; we must take bold action within the next decade in order to mitigate the worst effects of global warming. The best way to do this is to create a strategic road map and detailed plan of policy prescriptions to meet our targets. We must pass HB 6397 this session to set us on that path.”

“I’m honored to stand with climate advocates—especially young folks—because there is absolutely no time to waste. Reducing carbon emissions, finding alternate power sources, preserving endangered species, efficient home construction, improving recycling and waste management, expanding public transit, and implementing environmental justice: this is how we protect our planet and the future of our children. It is our moral imperative, and it makes economic sense,” said Representative Christine Palm, vice chair of the Environment Committee.

“The impacts of emissions on our environment, our air, and our world are becoming more evident every day. To take action to reduce emissions is to keep our air clean for future generations and is to protect the public health of our residents from respiratory illness. To provide for future generations is to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. I am hopeful we can pass these important measures and continue our work to improve Connecticut,” said Senator Saud Anwar, co-chair of the Public Health Committee.

Representative Aundré Bumgardner said: “I wholeheartedly endorse House Bill 6397 and Senate Bill 1147 as critical climate measures for our state. In this race against time, urgency surrounds the need for environmental justice and a comprehensive decarbonization roadmap. These bills tackle pressing challenges, paving the way to zero-carbon emissions and strengthening community wellness. Promptly calling for a vote on both bills is vital to secure a sustainable and equitable future for Connecticut.”

“The Connecticut Coalition for Climate Action is pleased the Climate Caucus and supporting legislators have joined us today to urge the General Assembly to take action on legislation to develop a decarbonization roadmap, address healthy and energy-efficient homes, and strengthen the state’s environmental justice statute. Action on these bills will support a cleaner, more climate-resilient state for generations to come,” said Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney at Save the Sound.

Lori Brown, executive director of CT League of Conservation Voters, said: “Our state celebrated major progress on climate in 2022. But when our state legislators failed to take action on major climate legislation earlier this session, advocates refused to let them off the hook. Rather than lose a year, a coalition of environmental leaders is doubling down on House Bill 6397 to ensure that our state has a plan going forward. We believe our legislators want to keep the momentum on climate, and we urge them to act on this important proposal before the clock runs out.”

“Climate Action Day helps underscore our top priority climate bill, HB 6397, concerning zero-carbon emissions. This bill is the next key step for Connecticut to take for climate, which is mapping out a clear path for how to meet goals for reducing carbon emissions,” said Nathan Frohling, director of external affairs for The Nature Conservancy in CT.

Dr. Mark Mitchell, co-chair of the Connecticut Equity and Environmental Justice Advisory Council, said: “Although we are all affected by climate change, some are affected more than others. Low-wealth people and Black, Brown, Indigenous and other People of Color are more exposed and less able to protect themselves from the health effects of climate change due to historical and current conditions, resulting from national, state, and local laws and policies. We must change those policies through legislation such as SB 1147, which updates the state environmental justice law to compel CT DEEP to reject additional pollution in overburdened communities.”

“As a group of health care professionals from across the state, we are witnessing the impact climate change is having on our patients” said Dr. Sanjiv Godse, chair of the Connecticut Health Professionals for Climate Action. “Heat waves, air pollution, and increased pollen counts are among some of the effects impacting our patients. This is especially true in children and in Latino and African American communities. This is why we support strengthening our environmental justice law and climate actions through SB 1147 and HB 6397.”

“Every faith tradition talks about caring for the planet—and religious communities are on the frontlines of responding to the climate crisis. People of faith donate generously to communities ravaged by hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. We support community members when they struggle with illnesses like asthma, lung disease, and cancer. And religious communities are approached regularly for financial help as people struggle to pay their utility bills. It’s time that we, as people of faith, address the cause of climate change, and not only the impacts,” said Terri Eickel, executive director of Interreligious Eco-Justice Network.

Ana McMonigle, staff attorney for Conservation Law Foundation, said: “We’re running out of time to combat the climate crisis and protect public health and the environment. We must pass legislation that will help Connecticut slash polluting emissions, make our homes more energy efficient, and strengthen protections for environmental justice communities that have been left behind for far too long. Our legislators must step up and confront this crisis before this session is over because we cannot afford to wait any longer.”

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