PRESS RELEASE: Save the Sound’s priority agenda for 2024 Connecticut legislative session

Climate accountability, clean cars, getting toxics out of water, protecting streams and wetlands, strengthening environmental justice top list

New Haven, CT — Save the Sound today released its priorities for the 2024 Connecticut legislative session, one week ahead of the start of the February – May session. The agenda was previously shared with each member of the General Assembly.

Comments from the lead advocate for each agenda area are included below.

Combatting Climate Change & Air Pollution

Charles Rothenberger, climate and energy attorney:

“Twenty years ago, Connecticut took bold action by adopting strong standards for vehicle emissions to protect our health and climate. Just four years later, the state led again by setting economy-wide targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Today, though, we’re falling behind those targets and falling behind our neighbors. It’s time to hold the state accountable to its commitments and protect the health of our most vulnerable making the reductions necessary from our most-polluting sectors—transportation and buildings.”

Our 2024 climate agenda:

  • Hold Connecticut accountable to the Global Warming Solutions Act by
    • establishing a Net-Zero by 2050 emissions target and sector-specific interim targets; and
    • requiring agencies to evaluate climate emissions impacts of permitting decisions and mitigate negative impacts.
  • Accelerate renewable energy deployment, including distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, by establishing robust targets and addressing battery storage needs.
  • Green our building sector through
    • heat pump targets and financing programs; and
    • air quality standards that reduce pollution from HVAC and water heating equipment.
  • Increase funding for energy efficiency programs including Home Energy Solutions-Income Eligible (HES-IE) Programs, and workforce training opportunities in the efficiency sector.
  • Reduce health-harming air pollution and strengthen consumer protections by adopting Clean Cars and Clean Trucks standards.

Protecting Our Water & Reducing Toxics

Bill Lucey, Long Island Soundkeeper:

“Everything that goes on the ground in Connecticut eventually ends up in our rivers and the Sound. We need to stop the flow of toxins that affect human health and wildlife, like PFAS and neonics, into the waters we drink and swim in. Our streams and wetlands need better protection themselves, too. Improved training for those charged with safeguarding our waterways, and incentives to create protective buffers of vegetations along streams, can go a long way in filtering pollution and sparing our waters from the worst impacts of development.”

Our 2024 clean water agenda:

  • Pass comprehensive legislation to begin the phase out of consumer goods with intentionally added toxic PFAS, such as stain resistant fabrics and personal care products.
  • Incentivize protection of riparian buffers around Connecticut waterbodies through creation of conservation easements and look to establishing setbacks.
  • Strengthen the Connecticut Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act, including by requiring training for all municipal commissioners that review permitting.
  • Severely limit use of neonicotinoids, which have been proven to migrate into streams and estuaries where they are lethal to macroinvertebrates and crustaceans.

Advancing Environmental Justice

Alex Rodriguez, environmental justice specialist:

“Last year Connecticut made important strides in strengthening the state’s environmental justice law. But true environmental justice requires fair protections for everyone. It’s time to close loopholes that leave some polluters unrecognized and some communities unprotected.”

Our 2024 environmental justice agenda:

  • Reduce inequities by allowing DEEP and the Siting Council to deny permit expansions and renewals of affecting facilities if the state determines there are less harmful alternatives.
  • Recognize the health harms of solid waste transfer stations, chemical recycling facilities, and related hazards by classifying them as affecting facilities.
  • Ensure small-town residents are protected by reversing a provision exempting Connecticut’s smallest designated environmental justice municipalities from key protections.

Defending Against Rollbacks & Harm

Chase Lindemann, legal fellow:

“Connecticut residents rely on longstanding legal protections that ensure clean water, clean air, and conserved green spaces, and their rights to have a say in environmental proposals that affect their communities. Every year, though, there are attempts to weaken these protections to placate industry lobbyists, or to trade them away in political deals. We’ll keep watch and intervene to ensure the protections that the public and our environment depend on remain as strong as they’re intended.”

Our 2024 defense agenda:

  • Defend our ecosystems, public health, and citizens’ environmental rights by watchdogging and defeating rollbacks to environmental laws and other destructive provisions.

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