Malloy Willing to Ignore the Facts of Climate Change
While all the signs of climate change are assaulting our state with a ferocity never seen before, it seems the current administration is content to ignore them and dismantle any environmental progress that Connecticut has made with backdoor deals, late night bargains and an energy strategy which puts more emphasis on supporting polluting industry interests than serving the state and it’s citizens. With the memory of Superstorm Sandy barely faded from the headlines and the recovery efforts still underway Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty suggest that the best way to update the energy grid that contributed to the power to that storm is to subsidize and evangelize for the natural gas industry whose extraction emissions could increase the probability of more storms in the future. The climate science is clear and it demands an immediate transition to clean, renewable energy and in the final days of this legislative session it is clear that these demands are being ignored in favor of propping up the status quo.
The first sign that Gov. Malloy is willing to ignore the facts of climate change came when his head of the Dept of Energy and Environmental Protection released what was incorrectly call the “Comprehensive Energy Strategy for CT.” This “strategy” made passing reference to energy efficiency, transportation issues and renewable energy but the lion’s share of the recommendations involved expanding natural gas use and propping up the dying trash incineration business in CT. Labeling natural gas as “cleaner burning” completely ignores the fact that extraction and transport of natural gas releases methane which a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and the extreme method of extraction called “fracking” pollutes water supplies, farm land and air with virtually no regulation. And the areas around trash to energy incinerators show increased levels of respiratory illness, higher rates of cancer and a lower standard of living than most of CT. Any “strategy” that does not take these factors into account cannot be taken seriously and should not be implemented, especially as laid out in governor’s Bill No. 6360. This document and the bill to implement it needs to be scrapped and DEEP should start work a plan that lays out how we transition to clean energy as fast as possible.
The next demonstration of the administration’s lack of concern for it’s citizens came in the form of SB 1138. This bill was sold as a way to meet the goals set forth in the previously enacted Global Warming Solution Act by enabling CT to purchase power from Hydro Quebec and other large hydro power dams outside CT but in “the region.” The first problem with that sales pitch is that we don’t need to do this to reach the GWSA targets. Programs such as Soalrize CT and Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority can meet and exceed these goals if given the funding and support they need. Another problem is buying power from these dams does nothing to support the citizens of CT. The only people that gain from this are HydroQuebec and Northeast Utilities, Esty former employer, who would build the transmission infrastructure needed to bring this power to us. The final problem with SB 1138 is that it would redirect support for more reliable, local, distributed clean energy that could give energy autonomy to our citizens to a power source far away, vulnerable to transmission outages and out of our control.
The final evidence of the governor’s disregard for our environmental health and security came this weekend when faced with a budget crisis of his own making, he chose to steal the funding from solar rebates and leases, Clean Energy Communities, the CT Green Bank, and Commercial PACE program. These programs were making permanent and measurable improvement in our energy mix in CT and benefiting citizens all over the state. They were providing progress that we should be building upon and represent the LEAST effort that we should be taking in transition off fossil fuels. Malloy knows that this would be a unpopular move so it was enacted in the middle of the night, on a weekend, three days before the legislative session is schedule to end. These are not the actions of someone who is eager to publicize his accomplishments.
The science is clear and the human of toll of climate change is mounting. Our state has been ravaged by a storm beyond anything we have seen before, a snow storm in October, droughts, heat waves and brush fires. We have citizens dying of diseases directly linked to the energy being produced less than a mile from their home. And yet we still pay too much for energy. The old way isn’t working. We need to transition to clean, renewable energy right now and our leaders are still supporting the industries of the past. We need to move in a new direction where we are not depleting a finite fuels source and exploiting people along the way. The good news is that this is possible. If only we have leaders willing to listen.