Broad Coalition Rallies for Action on Green Jobs, Saving Energy Funds

Mar 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Energy, Energy Efficiency, Legislation, Long Island Sound, Mass Transit, Pollution, River, Stormwater Runoff, Water Conservation

A broad coalition of environmental advocates and clean energy businesses united with legislative leaders yesterday to call for policies that will get Connecticut residents back to work in good, green jobs.

While some of those policies would require some financial investment, others would require no financial expense at all. In many cases, the no-cost policies call only for planning, cooperation and communication.

via Connecticut League of Conservation Voters: Broad Coalition Rallies for Action on Green Jobs.

Or read the news release from CFE below:::

Building Connecticut’s Economic and Environmental Future
Green Jobs Coalition Hosts Press Conference

Hartford – Clean energy businesses, workforce development representatives, construction industry representatives, environmental advocates, and legislative leaders gathered today to support legislation designed to create jobs in the state’s “green” business sectors. The Green Jobs Coalition is a group of 14 organizations united by the common agenda of sharpening Connecticut’s economic edge through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, expanded mass transit, water infrastructure upgrades, habitat restoration, and workforce training.

“We need to act now to put people back to work, take better advantage of federal stimulus funds and grow Connecticut’s clean energy businesses,” said Roger Reynolds, senior attorney for the Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “The Coalition has worked across five main areas to connect the dots between protecting the environment and growing the economy. In many cases the overlap is a no-brainer – energy efficiency investments reduce energy costs for consumers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All aspects of our proposal will create immediate jobs, clean our air and water, and promote high quality of life and long term economic competitiveness.”

“We have a real opportunity to create a green economy in Connecticut that can be an economic development leader in the state and a model for the nation,” said Speaker of the House Christopher G. Donovan (D-Meriden). “We know that the quickest way to economic recovery is by reducing costly burdens on people and through the creation of jobs. We need to capitalize on the investments we’ve already made in clean energy to create good jobs that pay well and protect our environment.”

“We can put Connecticut back to work this year with bold action that creates growth in businesses meeting our state’s need for more clean energy, cleaner waterways, and a healthy landscape,” said Environment Connecticut Program Director, Christopher Phelps. “We applaud Speaker Donovan for his leadership laying the foundation for growth in solar industry jobs, construction of clean water infrastructure, mass transit improvements and preservation of our agriculture communities.”

The press conference included representatives from the solar and energy efficiency sectors, two areas of considerable growth potential for the state. In business for 22 years, Chris Lenda, President of Aegis Electrical and Aegis Solar, a Branford company, commented on the need for the state to invest in the solar industry.

Lenda said, “The solar market in Connecticut is shrinking. Surrounding states have already adopted PACE program legislation that provides long-term, low-interest loans that allow homeowners to pay for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades. Connecticut is falling behind. We are losing workers and companies to surrounding states that are ramping up their investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We can and must turn this around.”

David Leishman, Chairman of the Connecticut Chapter of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Council, spoke to the hazards of raiding the clean energy and energy efficiency funds, targeted again this year by the Governor in an effort to close the state’s budget deficit. “Connecticut’s programs are the benchmark on which other programs from around the country are modeled. Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Fund and Renewable Energy Fund support 11,814 direct and induced jobs right now here in Connecticut and there is so much room to grow. We must protect this fund, these jobs, and even consider increasing the amount of funds available.”

The ability of the state to attract and retain highly skilled workers was also on the agenda as one of the steps forward in growing the clean energy industry.

David Cooper, Dean of Continuing Education at Gateway Community College, one of the colleges pioneering training programs designed to certify technicians to perform the work of the new economy, said, “We need to train our people in conservation, energy auditing, construction estimating, installation, operations, maintenance, and, most of all, health and safety through more clearly articulated career and educational paths. We owe this for the public welfare and for the growth of our economy. There is a great need to teach land use, healthy farming, how we handle society’s rubbish, and how to maintain our reservoirs and clean and waste water systems.”

Projects that protect Connecticut’s clean water are an important part of ensuring the state’s waterbodies remain viable and productive. Pollution and stormwater runoff in Long Island Sound cause hypoxia (the Sound’s “dead zone”) and contamination, both of which damage and stress fish and the marine economy. Pollution closed or caused swimmer warnings at state beaches 135 days in 2008, up from 108 in 2007. Clean water projects undertaken now create jobs for engineers, construction crews, and facility operations, take advantage of lower project costs, and support traditional marine trades like shellfishing.

Matthew Hallisey, Executive Director of the Utility Contractors Association of Connecticut (UCAC), a construction industry trades association whose members specialize in water and drainage work, said, “The UCAC supports continued bond authorizations for the Clean Water Fund to help rebuild stormwater and sewage treatment systems in the state. Utility contractors perform the work on these projects, which help maintain and improve infrastructure, as well as the environment and public health, create jobs and stimulate the economy. This is critical to helping the state emerge from the economic recession.”

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Coordinated by the Green Jobs Coalition: American Farmland Trust , Audubon Connecticut, Clean Water Action, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Environment Connecticut, Environment Northeast, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut, Save the Sound, Sierra Club – Connecticut Chapter, The Nature Conservancy, Transit for Connecticut, Working Lands Alliance, 1000 Friends of Connecticut, Northeast Energy Efficiency Council – CT Chapter.

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