Equity, Justice, and Energy
Clear Call from Advocates
Leticia Colon de Mejias and staff of Efficiency for All
The interconnectedness of energy use and efficiency, transportation, clean power, environmental justice, human health and the planet’s future were clearly called out Sunday, April 14th, as hundreds gathered to hold lawmakers accountable and support policies and programs for clean energy.
The “Stand Up for Climate Action & Energy Equity” rally at the state capitol in Hartford drew advocates of all ages, featured speakers, music, food, Qigong and resulted in hundreds of petition signatures and calls to lawmakers.
“We need an equitable playing field,” said Alex Rodriguez of Chispa. “We all have the right to clean air, clean water, sustainable land and a clean energy future. Environmental equity is important and is a basic human right – a right that is not always met.”
Gannon Long, of the Center for Latino Progress, pointed out that transportation systems are rarely, if ever, designed or approved by those who live in the communities they impact. She called for greater investment in public transportation over cars, as it results in greater safety and quality of life.
“Investing in public transit is investing in public safety,” she said. “People are at less risk of death from car crashes and everyone is safer. And of course, public transit is an environmental issue, reducing greenhouse gases. Design streets that are safe, attractive and efficient for walking and biking, and greenways. And young people must be at the table!”
“Equity means those most impacted by climate change must be at the table,” she added. “Those whose neighborhoods have garbage burning, which are cut apart by highways, we must be at the table. Let’s build a Green New Deal that centers on the most vulnerable and branch out from there.”
Anne Hulick of Clean Water Action pointed out CWA canvassers who are going door to door to restore energy efficiency funds. “Climate change is the most significant public health issue we face,” she said. “It is happening. The state of Connecticut’s air quality got a grade of F. Asthma rates in Hartford are among the worst in the country… Climate change is a public health crisis, but it’s something we can do something about right now.”
Kira Ortoleva, of U.S. Youth Climate Strike, called attention to existing regulations which are not sufficient to protect public health against harmful chemicals commonly used in packaging food. Laws need to catch up with science, she said.
Keynote speaker Leticia Colon de Mejias pointed out that Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy are like rice and beans – each healthy and satisfying on its own, but a more complete protein, offering greater nourishment and benefits when combined together. “We will not stop,” she said, “until everyone gets a plate! Energy Efficiency and Conservation are conservative ways to stop climate change and protect the people and the planet. Efficiency and conservation not only make dollars, they make sense. It is time to save energy and Save Dinero: Efficiency does both!”
US Senator Richard Blumenthal thanked Connecticut advocates for their work and effectiveness. “Thank you,” he said, “for being at the tip of the spear that is saving the planet. We have all the technology we need to make the economy carbon neutral in 10 years.”
Connecticut State Representatives Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, and Geraldo Reyes, D-Waterbury, received awards for their work on environmental equity and efficiency. Other speakers included Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Jennifer Siskind of Food and Water Watch and Adam Wood of Consumers for Sensible Energy. Sponsors included Efficiency for All, Sierra Club Connecticut, CHISPA, PACE, 350CT.org, Operation Fuel, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Food and Water Watch, Consumers for Sensible Energy, Sunrise Movement CT, Real Estate Agents Recycle, Clean Water Action and CHEER of Middletown. For information on how to contact your legislator to urge action on restoring energy efficiency funds and other action items, visit www.efficiencyforall.org.
Leticia Colon de Mejias is CEO of Energy Efficiencies Solutions, Inc. and Sierra Club member