Beyond Gas, Clean Energy & Climate
To address climate change Sierra Club Connecticut opposes gas expansion and advocates for deployment of clean energy. Here are some of the areas we are taking action to reduce the use of fossil fuels and accelerate an equitable transition to clean energy:
DEEP is in the process of updating the Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES), a guide for future energy decisions. Sierra Club is urging DEEP to draft a CES that stops expanding the use of fracked gas and starts decreasing all polluting fossil fuels, electrifies everything, prioritizes equity, and does not recommend false solutions. Sierra Club joined other organizations in these comments to DEEP about the use of hydrogen in Connecticut, submitted on April 15.
Ending Connecticut’s Gas Expansion Plan: Sierra Club is advocating for an end to the ratepayer funded gas expansion plan to lay new gas pipelines and convert customers to fracked gas in PURA docket 21-08-24. On March 23, PURA issued a draft decision recommending an end to the gas expansion program. Final decision was issued April 27.
Updating Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency program to end rebates for fossil fuel equipment and appliances. Sierra Club is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies, an increase in heat pump incentives and prioritizing equity in the energy efficiency plan. CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) released a draft decision that transitions the state’s energy efficiency program to an all-electric (no gas) residential new construction program, phases out gas rebates, and places priority on low-income and hardship customers. On April 27, Sierra Club filed these comments on the draft decision.
Sierra Club is calling on ISO-NE to end the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) that is preventing Connecticut from meeting its mandated emission reduction targets by keeping clean and renewable energy from entering the market, and allowing the most polluting, dirty generation facilities to continue operating. On April 11, this opinion piece by Killingly activist Ian McDonald explains why the rule needs to be eliminated. On April 20, legislators from throughout New England sent this letter asking FERC to require ISO New England to eliminate the “minimum offer price rule” beginning with the next capacity auction to be held in February 2023. On April 21, Sierra Club joined with other organizations to urge FERC to reject ISO New England’s proposal; read more here.
Air quality monitoring/citizen science: Sierra Club members are engaging in citizen air quality monitoring. Governor Lamont’s Executive Order creates aIr monitoring in environmental justice communities. If you want to monitor your air, or have mad data crunching skills, we are looking for you! Contact Martha.
Sierra Club Connecticut is working with allies led by CT Coalition for Environmental Justice to oppose trash incineration and to implement Zero Waste policies. We are working with residents in Bristol to fight the proposal to burn medical waste in their Covanta trash incinerator. Bristol Residents for Clean Air are proposing a strong clean air ordinance for the City of Bristol. In Putnam, we supported efforts alongside Save the Quiet Corner and other allies to stop the expansion of the existing trash incinerator ash landfill; despite objections, DEEP approved the expansion. In Hartford, we are monitoring a proposal by MIRA to replace the dying trash incinerator with a transfer station, and to continue incineration for one more year past the end date of July 2022. Update: The MIRA facility in Hartford is closing this July. More than half its towns opted out of their contracts and continuing was no longer possible. Now we must focus on Zero Waste policies that will reduce the waste stream and keep it from being trucked to landfills out-of-state. We supported the EPR bill for gas cylinders, HB5142, which passed and will become law. Unfortunately, SB118 to ban certain polystyrene products was never called for a vote in the House. We were successful in helping to stop bad boils that would have permitted so-called chemical recycling in CT, this is greenwashing for burning plastics.
Ready for 100
Local campaigns for 100% clean and renewable energy: Teams in four Connecticut towns (Hartford, Milford, West Hartford and Windsor) are actively working to transition their communities to 100% clean and renewable energy. The Hartford team is working to make energy more affordable and renewable for low-income residents; show your support here! One of the priorities - to establish a low-income discount rate for electricity - is before PURA; comments are due on June 14. The West Hartford team is working to promote Heat Smart, West Hartford’s effort to increase energy efficiency and the adoption of heat pumps, find out more here.
Sierra Club is working with allies to advocate for policies that promote car-free transportation, electric vehicles, electric vehicle charging, fleet transition, and more. Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign released this Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Engagement Toolkit! SB 4 (amended to include HB 5039) was passed by both the Senate and the House, and becomes law!
Land & Water
Remington Woods: Sierra Club Connecticut’s Save Remington Woods campaign aims to protect Remington Woods from development and to be preserved in its entirety. Remington Woods is a 422 acre forest in Bridgeport and Stratford. Sierra Club organized against a zoning change in Stratford that would have allowed developers to build multi-family housing on either side of a stretch of Broadbridge Avenue. On April 16, the Zoning Commission voted the proposal down. Sierra Club submitted a petition with over 1,200 signatures. CTPost coverage here. Sign the petition to Save Remington Woods here.
The Wildlife Committee is working to protect wildlife in our state through education and policy change. The committee produced this bear education flyer, and also designed these stickers to help raise awareness of how to coexist peacefully with bears.
Insure Our Future
Sierra Club is partnering with CCAG and the Insure Our Future campaign to urge the Connecticut insurance industry to stop investing in and underwriting fossil fuels. On April 1, the CT Insurance Department released the first ever report that addresses the climate-related risks of insurers in our state; Sierra Club CT joined others in these comments. Travelers and The Hartford held their shareholders’ meetings this month. On May 18, The Hartford held their shareholder meeting virtually. Three of our team held proxies for shares of stock and were able to attend and ask questions. One of our questions, on the Trans Mountain Pipeline, was read and answered at the meeting. On May 25, we participated in an action outside of the Travelers’ meeting at the Convention Center in Hartford. Three activists were able to attend the meeting in person, with proxies, and asked questions about insuring fossil fuel projects.
The Chapter’s Legislative Committee was active on numerous bills during the 2022 session of the Connecticut General Assembly. The session ended on May 4, with many successes, and some disappointments. See our wrap up article in the May Q for more details. Contact Art for more information.