CFE chalking up wins for environment despite odds

May 17th, 2010 | By | Category: General, Long Island Sound, Pollution, Smart Growth

The legislature passed an ambitious energy bill that aims to lower electricity rates, creates innovative financing mechanisms for energy efficiency and renewables, increases efficiency and solar energy, and restructures the state’s energy department. The bill will save money for ratepayers, create jobs, and prepare Connecticut to be a leader in the clean energy economy. Connecticut Fund for the Environment is urging Governor Rell to sign it into law.

The organization writes that “The last hours of the session, however, saw a devastating and short-sighted raid on the CT Energy Efficiency Fund that will eliminate thousands of green jobs, raise energy costs, and increase pollution. The final budget deal between Democratic leadership and the Governor strips 35% of the Efficiency Fund annually for 8 years.

“This is a serious assault on green jobs and clean air. A major independent study found that the energy funds, which support projects that will increase energy efficiency and reduce demand for power, directly and indirectly support 11,800 Connecticut jobs. In a recent survey by CFE, 95% of efficiency and clean energy business owners said they used energy fund programs. Nearly half said the energy funds were “critical” to their success, and over half were concerned that cuts would force them to shutter the business, move out of state, or lay off workers. The funds create green jobs, increase energy efficiency, reduce electricity rates, and decrease pollution. With a third of the Efficiency Fund gone, it’s not hard to imagine the impacts.

Environmental Standards: Stopping Rollbacks to Environmental Laws and Regulations

“We averted what could have proven a difficult session for environmental protection. Business interests sought to exploit the slow economy to undo decades of progress by rolling back environmental standards and hamstringing the Department of Environmental Protection. We supported reasonable measures to prioritize and streamline certain projects, so long as environmental laws and regulations were fully preserved.

“After much negotiation, the final bill that passed both houses, HB 5208, An Act Concerning Expedited Permitting for Economic Development, firmly rejected any rollbacks. While the bill is not perfect, we are pleased that it does not weaken environmental protections and instead directs state agencies to prioritize projects that create jobs, are consistent with smart growth, are transit oriented, or promote green technology.

Long Island Sound: Funding for Clean Water Infrastructure

“In the midst of an extremely difficult fiscal year, we are proud to have successfully advocated for increases to the Clean Water Fund, which helps upgrade clean water and sewer infrastructure as Connecticut works toward the goal of a sewage-free Sound. The legislature authorized nearly $80 million in grant-aid general obligation bonds and $200 million in low-interest loan revenue bonds for the biennium. Even better, this state investment will leverage additional federal funding and create approximately 3,000 jobs here in Connecticut.

“Unfortunately, innovative proposals to reduce stormwater pollution by givign incentives for creating green infrastructure and expanding funding for the Long Island Sound and Habitat Restoration via license plate programs did not pass. That means we will be back next session for Round Two.

Contact Information

Tisha Ferguson
Outreach Director
203-787-0646 x108
tferguson@cfenv.org

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