Legislative Update

March 2020

Samantha Dynowski

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Since the legislature convened the 2020 session on Wednesday, February 5, your Sierra Club Connecticut legislative team has been meeting with legislators, tracking bills that impact the environment, and readying testimony for public hearings. 

 

As we start the 2020 legislative session, Governor Ned Lamont, legislators, and our state agencies, including the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) are all publicly expressing a desire to address climate change by increasing clean energy and ending the expansion of fossil fuels. This is good news! But, to make real and meaningful progress, there is hard work ahead, and we need you. Please sign up for the petitions and action alerts linked with the issues below, and be sure to share with your friends. 

 

Here’s a snapshot of some of the issues and the bills we are following as of the writing of this article. See a full list here on our website.

 

A Just and Equitable Transition to Clean Energy

A livable planet for the future is dependent on a transition to clean and renewable energy. Such a transition requires a comprehensive approach to address all three of the sectors that produce most of our greenhouse gas emissions - electricity, transportation, and buildings - and is designed to create good jobs in clean energy and address environmental justice. 

  • Senate Bill 354 - Act Concerning a Green New Deal - The legislature's Labor Committee is introducing this comprehensive bill, and Sierra Club supports this bill. Learn more about it and send a message supporting a Green New Deal to your legislators

  • Senate Bill 10  - This bill will put Governor Lamont’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 into law. Sierra Club supports and is encouraging the addition of comprehensive measures.

  • House Bill 5103 - HB 5103 strengthens Connecticut’s Environmental Justice Law to ensure residents of Environmental Justice Communities have notice of and the opportunity to provide input on the permitting of pollution emitting projects in their neighborhoods, have expanded mitigation options, and have recourse when the law has not been followed. Sierra Club supports this bill.

  • House Bill 5008  - HB 5008 will allow municipalities to adopt building codes (to be written by DEEP)  that are stronger than the state building code. Sierra Club supports this bill.

Ending Fossil Fuel Expansion 

There is broad scientific consensus that we MUST stop burning fossil fuels in order to address the climate crisis that is upon us. Send a message to your legislators to end fossil fuel expansion. Here are some of the bills raised on this topic:  

  • House Bill 5350 - Sierra Club Connecticut supports ending policies that expand fossil fuels. As of this writing, we are evaluating the overall impact of this bill to ensure that if passed it will lessen our reliance on fossil fuels not increase it.

  • Senate Bill 345 - An Act Concerning Insurance and Climate Change - Insurance companies are supposed to be protecting us from catastrophic events, yet the 40 largest U.S. insurers hold over $450 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stocks and bonds. Sierra Club Connecticut supports requiring insurance companies to disclose underwriting and investments, and to stop the insurance and funding of fossil fuels.

  • House Bill 5010 - This bill is Governor Lamont’s adjustments to the revenue side of the state budget. Sierra Club Connecticut is closely watching one line item related to fossil fuels in this bill; a $3.6 million tax exemption for a natural gas plant. As he did last year, the Governor is proposing to end this tax exemption. Yet, last year, the subsidy was returned in the budget by the legislature. Sierra Club supports ending this tax exemption. Please send a message to the Finance Committee co-chairs urging an end to this exemption.


 

Wildlife Protection

  • House Bill 5104 - This bill will prohibit the import, sale, and possession of African elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros, and giraffes.

If you want to stay up-to-date on more wildlife bills or to be more involved in protecting wildlife, please email Kathleen Magner to join our Wildlife Committee!

Reducing Waste

  • Senate Bill 99 - SB99 will reduce the use and distribution of polystyrene products, and Sierra Club supports this bill.

  • House Bill 5340 - This is an act concerning the modernization of the Connecticut bottle redemption program and has been introduced by the Environment Committee. Sierra Club supports this bill.

  • Senate Bill 11 - An act concerning the reliability, sustainability, and economic vitality of the state’s waste management system. 

 

Toxics

 

If you have questions on any of these issues or want to volunteer with our Legislative Committee, please contact Angel Serrano, chair of the committee.

 

Samantha Dynowski is State Director, Sierra Club Connecticut.