Environmental Wins at the CT State Legislature

This past legislative session saw two significant clean energy victories. The synopsis below is from information from the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. For more information about the legislation, and for regular notices from the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, please visit https://ctclimateandjobs.org.

Offshore Wind Energy Development – After months of effective advocacy, the Connecticut State Senate passed HB 7156, mandating solicitations of 2000 MW of offshore wind by 2030. The unanimous vote of 36 to 0 echoed the earlier overwhelmingly bipartisan 134 to 10 approval in the House.

Connecticut becomes the first state to mandate project labor agreements and prevailing wages for all offshore wind projects. The bill also includes some of the strongest environmental protections for marine life, ecosystems and commercial fishing.

Solar Energy – a good fix to the faulty net metering language enacted in 2018 was included in HB 5002 and will help put CT’s residential and commercial solar energy on track for continued growth. (HB 5002, which was originally the Green New Deal bill, was otherwise unremarkable.)

Building a coalition around a climate action 1-3 p.m. Sunday June 30

At a recent day of discussion for 350 CT, we decided to make an effort to build a wide-ranging coalition around a climate action on Sept. 20 in support of the global climate strike led by the millions of school strikers around the world.

There will be a meeting on June 30 from 1-3 pm at the Unitarian Society of Hartford (50 Bloomfield Avenue) to make a plan. I hope that some PAR subscribers can attend. Thank you!

Note To the Environmental Community | Ralph Nader, Consumer Advocate

[Reprinted from CounterPunch, May 6, 2019: www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/06/note-to-the-environmental-community]

In 2003, political strategist Frank Luntz wrote a confidential Republican Party memo on what he called “the environmental communications battle.” In that memo, Luntz advised Republicans to change the words they used to meet their ends. “The scientific debate is closing but not yet closed,” he wrote. “There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science,” Luntz proposed using the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming.” His reasoning: “[W]hile global warming has catastrophic communications attached to it, climate change sounds a more controllable and less emotional challenge.”

Like it or not, Frank Luntz had a point. When I was growing up in New England, “climate change” meant the changing of the seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Today, in the midst of increasingly alarming scientific studies and giant storms, the necessary response has been diminished by this widely-accepted softening of the words we use to describe the dangerous reality that stands before us. Language matters!

I recently reached out to two leading and widely respected ecologists, Paul Hawken and Bill McKibben, to get their input on the mainstream usage of the benign phrase “climate change.” McKibben now uses the far more potent phrase “climate chaos.” Hawken believes the proper term is “climate volatility.”

One thing is abundantly clear―it’s time to change the words to meet the peril! As Confucius said: “If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

Would you join us in replacing the use of the all-together benign phrase “climate change” with variations of more grave language? Consider the following alternatives: climate crisis, climate catastrophe, climate disruption, climate upheaval, or even global warming. Whatever choice of words, we should stop using “climate change.”

Sincerely, Ralph Nader

Sinking land could ground Tweed airport expansion plans | New Haven Register

Since 1931, Tweed New Haven Airport has sat on a spit of what was once salt marsh and wetlands straddling the East Haven border. It is wedged between New Haven Harbor where the Quinnipiac River empties, the Farm River mouth separating East Haven and Branford, and Long Island Sound. It is transected by other waterways — Tuttle Brook and Morris Creek.

And it floods.

Recent morning thunderstorms left water rimming the runways and pooling in adjacent residential roads.

It will only get worse.

Source: Sinking land could ground Tweed airport expansion plans – New Haven Register

Tweed New Haven Airport Redux

[Extracts from Yale Daily News article 4/23/19 by Natalie Bussemaker and Siddsrth Shankar]

For years, city and state residents and officials have debated whether or not to expand Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. But despite numerous pleas from local city government, no substantial progress has been made on the issue due to state and local laws that prevent the expansion of the airport’s runway from 5,600 feet.

In January, Mayor Toni Harp unilaterally terminated New Haven’s 2009 Memorandum of Agreement with East Haven, which limited the runway length, arguing that the restriction was illegal. And last month, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Transportation Committee passed a bill that would end the state’s legal restriction on Tweed’s runway length. Still, the bill needs to be approved by the full Connecticut House of Representatives and Connecticut Senate and signed by Gov. Ned Lamont SOM ’80 to become law. According to state Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, the chances that the bill will make it into law this legislative session — which closes in just over a month — are slim….

Looney said a “necessary precursor” for him to support any legislation that would repeal the statute restricting Tweed’s runway length is the development of a “community benefits plan.” According to Looney, the plan would address soundproofing, noise concerns and traffic reconfiguration, as well as mitigate the environmental impact of the changes to Tweed.

“There’s a number of environmental advocates in the neighborhood who are raising issues about what the environmental impact of airport development would be given the predictions of rising sea levels over the next 20 years, concerns about wetlands [and] concerns about flooding,” Looney said. “All of that would have to be addressed in any plan.”

Expansion proponents note that New Haven is one of the most underserved air travel markets in the nation and that a longer runway will open the door to flights to major cities.

Currently, Tweed only offers daily service to Philadelphia and once-a-week service to Charlotte, N.C. According to a Yale press release supporting Tweed’s expansion, expanding the runway would add 1,000 jobs in the region, generate $122 million in revenue and increase the state and local tax base by $4.5 million. According to Kevin Rocco, the chief executive officer of BioRez, Inc. — a medical device start-up in the city — the stalled progress on Tweed enhancements has come at the expense of efficiency and growth for businesses in the region….

“The responsibility is going to be with [Lamont] to help move a plan forward with a commitment of state resources and broad-based inclusion of community input, because the city’s had an opportunity to do so for several years and has not,” Looney said.

[For more about the environmental hazards of Tweed Airport expansion, see our March 2019 issue, par-newhaven.org/2019/02/26/tweed-airport-and-climate-change-the-environment-is-both-local-and-global]

Is Your PAR Subscription About to Run Out?

by PAR Planning Committee

The Progressive Action Roundtable newsletter publishes from September through June. Subscriptions from many of our readers will expire with the June issue.

We hope you enjoy your subscription and value the PAR newsletter as a community resource. To see if your subscription is due for renewal, please look at your address label. If “201906” is printed on the label to the right of your name, your subscription ends next month. Please send in $13 for 10 issues (Sept. 2019-June 2020) so that you can continue to read about what local organizations are doing and you can submit articles about your own organization.

The Progressive Action Roundtable was started in January 1993. After several months, this community Newsletter became the main activity of PAR, giving New Haven area organizations an opportunity for networking and for advertising their activities.

We hope to hear from you.

Students Disrupt David Swensen Talk and Occupy Investments Office

(contributed photo)

NEW HAVEN, CT – Student demonstrators interrupted a public talk given by Yale Chief Investments Officer David Swensen and NPR correspondent Chris Arnold on Tuesday, calling on Swensen to meet the demands of students who were occupying the Yale Investments Office for the third time in the past five months. For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/FossilFreeYale.

Half an hour into the financial advice presentation described as “teaching students to invest like Yale does”,” more than 40 members of the Yale Endowment Justice coalition stood up, holding banners reading “Yale is Complicit” and “Inaction is not an option.”Lorna Chitty YC’20, a member of the Yale Democratic Socialists, interrupted Swensen to inform him that earlier that afternoon, 20 students and community members had begun a third sit-in in the Investments Office. She asked when Swensen would respond to the years of student activism calling for fossil fuel divestment and cancelling Puerto Rico’s debt.

As Swensen sat without replying, Arnold urged the protestors to bring their complaints at another time.. Chitty responded: “We have gone through all of your administrative channels, we have written countless reports, we have delivered our demands to your door, and you remain invested in the climate crisis that threatens all our futures and is already impacting the people of Puerto Rico.” The student organizers marched out of the lecture hall, chanting “Cancel the Debt,” leaving only about half of the original attendees. .

This isn’t the first confrontation between Swensen and student organizers. In March 2018, Yale’s legendary investments manager faced backlash following an email exchange with the Yale Daily News, in which Swensen called the editor-in-chief a “coward” and wrote, “Don’t you understand simple English?”

Students point to Yale’s holdings in the Puerto Rican debt crisis as an example of investments that aren’t consistent with Yale’s stated commitment to climate change. “As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from a climate change-fueled hurricane and a massive debt crisis, Yale’s fifth largest fund manager Baupost is suing the island to be repaid first. Our demands for bold moral action from Yale have been met with silence. That’s why we’re continuing to take direct action to hold our university accountable to principles of climate justice” said Adriana Colón-Adorno YC’20, a member of Despierta Boricua, the Yale Puerto Rican students association. Yale’s CIO David Swensen sits on the board of Baupost.

Fossil Free Yale has been working with the Yale administration for six years to divest the university’s $29 billion endowment from fossil fuels, but students’ frustration with administrative stalling and inaction has led them to take more drastic actions like disrupting an event. “Nonviolent direct action is a necessary and just response to a rigged and fraudulent democratic system of representation,” says Ross Pennock, DIV ’21, a member of the Endowment Justice Coalition.

While the students were walking out of the lecture hall, the Yale Police Department was issuing citations to 20 more students and community members for refusing to leave the Investments Office until Yale agreed to meet their demands. This sit-in follows a December action at which 48 students were arrested, the largest university fossil fuel divestment direct action in history, as well as a March sit-in at which 17 students were arrested. The activists promised they would continue to hold Yale accountable to principles of climate justice.

Students Occupy Yale Investments Office, Demanding Action on Climate Injustice in Puerto Rico

[Below are excerpts from the press release PAR received on March 4 regarding the action at Yale]

Yale University police arrested and issued citations to 17 Yale students who held an occupation of the Investments Office [March 4] demanding that Yale direct its fund managers to cancel their holdings in Puerto Rico’s debt and divest the endowment from fossil fuel companies. A total of 30 students and New Haven community members participated in the sit-in lasting the entire afternoon. They have emphasized that they will continue returning to the Investments Office until the University takes action on their demands.

In the face of hurricanes, devastating California wildfires and the latest UN climate report, bold and comprehensive action is needed to address climate change. Climate change exacerbates existing economic inequity, as seen in Puerto Rico, where several “vulture funds” that hold Puerto Rico’s considerable debt are demanding to be repaid before the island can rebuild and support its poorest residents. Research has shown that the intensity of hurricanes like Maria, which struck the island in September last year, is being exacerbated by climate change.

“As Puerto Rico struggles to recover from a climate change-fueled hurricane and a massive debt crisis, Yale’s fifth largest fund manager Baupost is suing the island to be repaid first. Our demands for bold moral action from Yale have been met with silence. That’s why we’re continuing to take direct action to hold our university accountable to principles of climate justice,” said Adriana Colón, a member of Des-pierta Boricua, the Yale Puerto Rican students association. Yale’s CIO David Swensen sits on the board of Baupost.

For six years, student and community organizers have worked with the Yale administration to advocate for the divestment of Yale’s $29.4 billion endowment from fossil fuel corporations. Yale would join 998 institutions that have committed to divesting $7.2 trillion from the fossil fuel industry worldwide. Most recently, Middlebury College announced it will divest its $1 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies. For more information, please contact Martin Man at martinmi5@hotmail.com or call (845) 505-9281.

Stand Up for Climate Action, Energy Equity April 14

by Efficiency For All

Come to the State Capitol in Hartford on Sunday, April 14, 1-4 p.m. We are standing up for climate & energy equity! This is part of our collaborative call for policy which supports responsible energy policies as they relate to our economy, environment, health, climate, public transportation, and local jobs.

We want to reduce energy waste and increase clean energy production.

We are calling on our elected leaders to:

Stop the diversion of the Energy Efficiency (EE) and Clean Energy (CE) programs.
Lower energy waste, lower pollution, close the affordability gap and invest in our clean energy future. Expand all programs that reduce waste and lower carbon emissions including: efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, and clean public transportation.

We call on community leaders & advocates to join us in the fight for our future.

Desired actions:

  • Restore & expand our efficiency programs and renewable energy programs and create a path for increased energy equity!
  • Ensure programs have an equity lens, including transportation.
  • Include underrepresented communities at the table and empower them with information.

Efficiency. Environment. Economy. Employment. Equity. Education. Reliable, Resilient, & Safe Energy for All!

“There is room for everyone at the table and everyone should get a plate.”

Educate. Motivate. Unite. Take Action. The Time is Now!

www.facebook.com/events/1635681326534913

Sponsored by Efficiency For All, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action Connecticut, 350 Connecticut, Chispa Connecticut, Connecticut Chapter Sierra Club.

Update on Plastic Bag Ban

From our friends at Citizens Campaign for the Environment

SB 1003–An Act Concerning Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags has received a public hearing and now must be voted out of committee before the 3/29 deadline. There is an Environment committee meeting scheduled for this Monday, but the agenda has not been posted yet. We need everyone to contact the Environment Committee leadership and urge them to vote this bill out of committee as soon as possible!

Tell the Environment Committee to Pass a Bag Ban for the 21st Century! SB 1003 would ban plastic checkout bags in Connecticut, without addressing paper bags. This is a good first step, but it can create an unintended consequence—encouraging consumers to switch to paper bag use, which also adversely impacts our environment. The goal is not to switch from plastic to paper; the goal is to switch from single-use bags to reusable bags!

Additionally, we must push back against so-called “compostable” plastic bags! The Governor’s proposed plastic bag surcharge contained a loophole exempting “compostable” plastic bags from the charge. This is blatant green washing! ASTM D6400 compliant plastic bags are certified compostable in an anaerobic digester. This does not suggest that these plastics will ever break down if they escape into the environment. We must make sure that the committee does not create loopholes for this material!

Update on Offshore Wind

From our friends at the CT Roundtable on Climate & Jobs

Last week, the Energy & Technology Committee passed two bills that would strengthen CT’s commitment to offshore wind. As they were taking that critical step, legislators spoke out about the need for further improvements to the language before a bill moves to the floor of the House or Senate for a vote.

We were pleased that legislators specifically called out two of our priorities: (1) establishing a commitment to 2000 MW of offshore wind, and (2) making that commitment a “mandate” rather than just providing CT DEEP with procurement “authority.”

The revised committee bill (HB 7156) also includes strong labor provisions to ensure in-state jobs with good wages and safety standards, along with environmental protections designed to mitigate any negative impacts on wildlife and ecosystems, as well as the commercial fishing industry.

Environmental Film Festival at Yale April 3-6

The Environmental Film Festival at Yale is one of America’s premier student-run environmental film festivals. For 11 years now, EFFY brings incisive and ground breaking films that highlight the environmental and social issues of our time. Join us April 3-6 in downtown New Haven for this iconic movie experience. In addition to highlighting the brightest environmental storytelling of the past year, cele-brated directors and creatives from past festivals will return for discussion of how we move forward constructively as environmental storytellers. Films will be shown at various locations: Burke Auditorium, Kroon Hall, 195 Prospect St.; Criterion Cinemas, 86 Temple St.; Ives Main Library, New Haven Public Library, 133 Elm St. Please check the website for films, times and locations: https://effy.yale.edu.

Three Things You Can Do About Climate Issues

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven/León Sister City Project

Earth Day celebration.
On April 27, 1,200 cyclists will travel between West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of the city. Along the way, they will eat tasty food, hear great music, and explore the city’s parks. In 2019 there will be five rides: the 5-mile family-friendly parade/ ride; a 12-mile adult ride; the 20-mile ride; the 40-mile ride; and a metric century (60+ miles), all traveling through scenic and park filled routes in the New Haven region. Live music at various stops and at the end at East Rock will be provided and include performances by local musicians. The event closes with a state-wide Climate Rally organized by 350 CT. All proceeds from Rock to Rock support over 25 high-impact environmental groups and projects. For more information go to www.rocktorock.org.

Sign the New Haven resolution endorsing the declaration of a climate emergency to restore a safe climate:
“I am very concerned that global warming has already set in motion disastrous changes to the Earth system, including accelerating ice mass loss from the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets, melting of the Arctic and thawing of the permafrost, ocean acidification, accelerating species extinction, and year-round forest fires. In addition, 19,000 scientists in the 2nd Warning to Humanity (2017) agree that the only way to avoid “vast human misery” is to greatly change our quality of stewardship to the earth. As a result, I am asking New Haven to join with other cities across the country and declare a climate emergency–entailing the mobilization of programs to offer mitigation, resilience, and education on global warming.” Full resolution and petition at: newhavenclimatemovement.org/emergency-resolution.

Join Climate Week today!
Climate Week is for teachers and students to learn about climate impacts and actions to cut greenhouse gases, improve health, and reduce energy use and expense.

We hope you and your school will take part in the movement towards climate solutions and participate in this Climate Week in 2019 from April 27-May 4. Climate Week is a project of the Climate Health Education Project, a year-round online climate education resource. For more information, visit https://www.climateeducationnh.org.

1 2 3 8