Confront Climate Change, Stop Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy
A Statement from Capitalism vs. the Climate
May 13, 2013. Last year, Connecticut experienced its warmest year on record and saw 5 people killed by Superstorm Sandy.[i] At the same time, communities mobilized to build new recycling facilities and community gardens, bring together unions and climate activists, and postpone construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, demonstrating a heightened sense of urgency and possibility around confronting climate change.
“It’s clear that achieving 100% just, renewable energy is not only socially beneficial and technologically possible, but also an environmental necessity,” said Carmen Cordero, a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate. “Governor Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy is so packed with false solutions and loopholes that it takes Connecticut further away from reaching this goal.”
Despite our testimonies at public hearings and our satirical Climate Circus [ii], serious flaws in the Comprehensive Energy Strategy have not been remedied. We therefore call for the defeat of House Bill 6360 An Act Concerning an Implementation of Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy and the related Senate Bills 839 and 1138.
Governor Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy…
EXPANDS NATURAL GAS infrastructure in Connecticut.[iii] Fracking for natural gas contaminates drinking water with methane and poisons workers with silica dust. Pipelines and power plants bring risks directly to Connecticut; six workers died in a 2010 natural gas explosion in Middletown. Natural gas is also worse for the climate than coal when you factor in methane leaks from fracking and pipelines, according to Cornell University Professor Robert Howarth’s research.[iv]
INCREASES RELIANCE ON CARBON TRADING [v], allowing power plants to continue their pollution as long as they purchase pollution permits and carbon offsets. Emissions trading sometimes widens inequality of exposure to pollution. Between 1995 and 2000, during a sulphur-dioxide trading program, sulphur dioxide emissions increased at 300 of the country’s 500 dirtiest power plants.[vi]
TRIES TO EVADE, through several guises, Connecticut’s requirement that electricity providers obtain 20% of their energy from Class I renewable sources by 2020. First, there were attempts to count trash incineration toward this goal. Now, Senate Bill 1138 is an attempt to count Canadian hydroelectric power. We cannot support Malloy’s proposed incentives for “renewable energy” if his administration will just apply them to dirty false solutions.[vii]
STIPULATES INADEQUATE EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS that are at best laughable and at worst a distraction. Even Malloy’s Executive Summary admits “significant additional measures” are required to meet Connecticut’s statutory goal [viii] which itself is far weaker than the 50% reduction by 2017 called for by the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia.[ix]
If Connecticut passes legislation implementing the Comprehensive Energy Strategy, this will signal that the legislature values the profits of Northeast Utilities more than the residential communities next to Connecticut’s toxic incinerators and gas, nuclear, coal, oil and biomass power plants. It will illustrate the inherent unsustainability of an economic system—capitalism—that requires infinite growth on a finite planet.[x]
In opposing this legislation, we support a rapid increase in energy conservation and efficiency and a just transition to 100% clean, renewable, community-controlled energy. In November 2009, Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobson published a study on how to power the world’s electricity, heating and transportation with 100% wind, water and sunlight by 2030. In March 2013, he published a follow-up study showing how New York State can meet this goal, and he found the transition would create a net increase of jobs, stabilize fuel costs and decrease air pollution deaths by 4000 a year.[xi] With a greater emphasis on energy conservation and shifting subsidies from dirty energy and militarism, Connecticut can likely achieve 100% just, renewable energy much sooner than 2030.[xii]
We demand a just transition that offers new union jobs, job trainings and good pensions with health care for current workers affected by the transition.[xiii] We will fight for climate solutions in Connecticut that empower workers and local communities.
Confronting the root causes of climate change, Capitalism vs. the Climate aims to organize without hierarchy and targets the social injustices underlying climate change. We support direct action as an effective way to win campaigns for justice and prefigure the world we seek to build. We align with Rising Tide North America and organize in solidarity with communities at the frontlines of climate change.
[iii] This is partially done by weakening the “hurdle rate test” regulatory mechanism. When building new infrastructure, gas companies currently have to show that the capital cost will be paid back over 15 years (for Yankee Gas) or 20 years (for Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas). H.B. 6360 will give them 25 years. Roger Smith of Clean Water Action explains that in 25 years, “whether natural gas will be available and at a competitive price is unknowable. Under the CES, customers could be paying back pipelines in 2044, which is extremely risky.” http://1.usa.gov/18ukh50
[iv] http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Marcellus.html http://www.environmental-justice.org/FCEJN/naturalgasnotsonatural.pdf
[v] Authorizing the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to set performance standards and requirements in line with goals of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, H.B. 6360 states, “Such performance standards or other requirements may provide for a program for purchase of offsetting reductions in emissions and trading of emission credits or carbon dioxide allowances.”
[vii] Energy Justice Network on real and false solutions: http://www.energyjustice.net/files/technologies.pdf
[viii] page ii http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/energy/cep/2013_ces_final.pdf
[x] As we explained inside a fake conference brochure we handed out at the entrance of January’s Oil Sands Conference in Hartford: “It’s because capitalism creates an artificial ‘grow or die’ imperative. If a company doesn’t grow, then it can’t buy the latest technologies, it can’t realize ‘economies of scale’, and it can’t sell below its competitors’ prices. It dies. As a result, economies must grow and grow, consuming evermore resources and producing evermore waste and pollution.”
[xii] Energy Justice Network says, “These studies say it can be done by 2030, but with enough political will and a shifting of subsidies from dirty energy and militarism to clean solutions, it can likely be done much sooner.” http://www.energyjustice.net/solutions
Zero Carbon Australia also advocates 100% renewable energy, including transportation, by 2020.
Jacobson’s studies emphasize energy efficiency but not energy conservation. This is most clear in the graphic on page 60 of the Scientific American study. Our transition, in contrast, may not require as much energy build-up for several reasons. First, a shifting culture will likely emphasize that luxury does not require today’s consumption levels in the Global North. Second, an economic transformation will alleviate the “grow-or-die” pressure on producers. Third, a decentralization of the economy will reduce transportation needs, although we do support confederation of communities and public transportation.
[xiii] For case studies on achieving a just transition for workers, see Jobs Beyond Coal by Jeremy Brecher. http://report.labor4sustainability.org/