Recap of the Gubernatorial Environmental Forum at Trinity College

Ann Gadwah

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On July 16, CT Chapter Sierra Club, along with other Connecticut environmental organizations, held a Gubernatorial Climate Change Forum, hosted by Trinity College in Hartford. Candidates Ned Lamont (D), Joe Ganim (D), Oz Griebel (I) and Ron Hanscomb (L) discussed their opinions and action plans for increasing renewable energy sources, sea level rise, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency. The debate was moderated by WNPR radio personality John Dankowsky. Candidates had time before and after the debate to speak with voters. All five Republican candidates chose to attend a Republican Town Committee debate in Southington.

The format was more of a conversation than a debate. Dankowsky asked his own questions related to the environment and climate change, then opened the conversation to audience questions. All candidates took advantage of the time before and after the debate to engage with voters.

During the debate, Ned Lamont promised to honor the commitment to the Energy Efficiency Fund and the Green Bank, promised to support a fracking waste ban, and would support the direct sale of Tesla vehicles. “I try to convince people every day that a green economy is a strong economy… Little Connecticut is going to have to take the lead with other states,” said Lamont.

Joe Ganim came with the most supporters. He also advocated for the return of the Green Bank/Energy Efficient Funds, a fracking waste ban and saw little need for the hundreds of proposed gas pipelines being considered here in the state. He touted his recent

trips to Europe to learn about their environmentally friendly programs, including the Thermal Loop coming soon to Bridgeport. He was very concerned with “environmental justice for inner-city youth with asthma.”

Oz Griebel also opposed the raid on the Green Bank and Energy Efficiency Fund and supported a fracking ban. He spoke about increasing renewable energy sources and cutting energy costs. His hope is to create 200,000 net new, private-sector jobs in ten years, and part of his strategy will include the renewables market. After being asked if Tesla should be allowed to sell electric vehicles directly to the consumer in Connecticut, Griebel said, “I would listen to both sides before I would come to a specific decision.”

Ron Hanscomb probably had the most difference in opinion from the rest of the group. He did state right at the beginning of the forum that, “Climate change is real. The prospects are scary for what could happen 20, 30, 40 years from now,” to audience applause. However, he does believe that fracked gas is “clean-burning,” much to audience displeasure. He said he would leave it up to the municipalities to decide whether they want to ban fracking waste.

The forum was extremely informative and enjoyable. It was a breath of fresh air to hear ideas and action plans being discussed civilly, without negativity and personal attacks. It was wonderful to hear all the candidates say they take the threat of climate change and sea-level rise seriously and that energy efficiency and renewable energy projects can create an economic boom for the state. A big thank you to all those who organized, participated, and attended this forum. It was a rousing success.

Ann Gadwah is Political Committee Chair, CT Chapter Sierra Club.