Connecticut Fund for the Environment Pushes for Economic Growth: Prioritizes Environmental Protections that Grow Jobs | CT Environmental Headlines: New Haven – Connecticut Fund for the Environment today released a list of legislative priorities designed to boost environmental protections that benefit the economy and positively impact job growth.
Curt Johnson, Senior Program Director and Staff Attorney for CFE, commented on the penchant to characterize environmental policy as unworkable in the current economic climate.
“Investing in environmental protections grows the economy,” Johnson said. “Thousands of jobs could be created through initiatives that protect the state’s beaches and drinking water, and the economic return on investment for transit upgrades is three to one. Developing solid environmental policy is exactly the type of long-term planning that will help insulate Connecticut from major expenses down the road.”
ENERGY USE AND GLOBAL WARMING
In the 2009 legislative session, building on the success of last year’s global warming solutions bill, CFE will push the state to further reduce greenhouse gas pollution by bringing the state’s buildings under the green umbrella. One of only a handful of states taking measures to address climate change, Connecticut’s continuing attention to global warming demonstrates leadership far surpassing that of the federal government in avoiding the worst consequences of climate change.
“Connecticut is light years ahead of Washington in developing meaningful policy that will have lasting effects on the climate,” said Charles Rothenberger, staff attorney for CFE. “However, we haven’t taken even the first steps to adopt energy efficiency standards in building, a critical measure in reducing global warming.”
Rothenberger noted that buildings contribute 40 percent of greenhouse gas pollution and remediation work not only creates jobs for Certified Energy Inspectors but also lowers energy consumption and costs for consumers.
“In order for Connecticut to reach climate change goals and reduce the state’s energy footprint, we have to address these massive energy sinkholes,” Rothenberger said.
The Long Island Sound region contributes $8 billion to the economy but continues to face great challenges as the hypoxia dead zone grows and heavy rain causes untreated waste to pour into the waterway.
“It is absolutely critical that we invest $130 million in the Clean Water Fund,” said Leah Schmalz, Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs for Save the Sound, a program of CFE. “We cannot depend on drought conditions to protect water quality; nor can we risk the economic damage stemming from closing contaminated beaches and shellfish beds each time a storm rolls through.”
While Connecticut beaches were closed only 108 days this year due to high bacteria, it was low rainfall that prevented untreated sewage from spilling into recreation areas.
“We beat back Broadwater, a huge floating industrial tanker Shell wanted to site in the Sound,” Schmalz said. “But the equivalent of two tankerfuls of raw sewage is dumped into the Sound every month. Beachgoers, fishermen, and boaters really need the state to step up the investments that keep the Sound sewage-free.”
Yale economists have determined that investment in mass transit are key to both the state’s long-term economic growth and to achieving our greenhouse gas reduction goals. Reducing traffic congestion means not only less pollution, but also lower transportation costs and improved worker access to jobs. This is an important prerequisite to attracting new business to the state and expanding job opportunities in the new green economy.
“Connecticut cannot be left out of the transportation equation and the jobs that it creates,” said Karen Burnaska, of Transit for Connecticut. “We find ourselves locked in a sort of Sisyphusian battle for transportation dollars at the same time that national attention has been focused on the need for improvement and expansion in this area. It could not be clearer that transportation investment is necessary to keep Connecticut functioning.”