Sierra Club Connecticut's 2022 Legislative Priorities
Greetings and Happy New Year! Another legislative session is upon us and with it comes another chance to make some real progress on important environmental issues. It is time for Connecticut to lead the nation on climate action! Beyond that we also need to strengthen Connecticut’s environmental justice laws, protect our residents from dangerous chemicals, address our looming waste management crisis, and protect our wildlife.
Lead on Climate:
In order for Connecticut to catch up with neighboring states on climate action, we will need swift and decisive action from the legislature this session. We must pass legislation for a clean future. This should include establishing a 100% zero-emission electricity goal; protecting ratepayers from the costs of unneeded fossil fuel infrastructure by giving the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the siting council the tools they need to reject fossil fuel plants; and ending the gas expansion plan. We also need a plan for efficient and fossil fuel free buildings and to accelerate solar deployment here in the state (solar is currently at 2% of energy production in Connecticut!).
We also must pass legislation to protect our communities, particularly the most overburdened by the fossil fuel economy, by strengthening Connecticut’s environmental justice law and lowering transportation emissions. We must have the tools to be able to flat out reject polluting facilities solely based on the fact that the community is already overburdened. Also, adopting California’s Advanced Clean Truck rule will make a meaningful difference in reducing greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and air pollution, including NOx, CO2, and PM2.5 (fine particulate matter pollution). Transportation emissions account for 38% of our GHG emissions. We need to address it, as it affects us all, particularly black, brown, and low income communities. We must end these environmental injustices.
Reduce Waste and Incineration:
After passing an updated bottle bill last session (yay!), it is time to continue to address the waste crisis here in Connecticut. A strong extended producer responsibility (EPR) law for hard to recycle products, such as tires, gas cylinders, and smoke detectors will help shift some of the burden of disposing of these items from municipalities and consumers to the producer. DEEP is also putting forth some EPR legislation for packaging, which hopefully will help take some toxins out of the packaging, make it easier to recycle, defer disposable costs from the taxpayers, and keep packaging out of landfills and incinerators. Banning polystyrene, along with limiting straws and balloon releases would help considerably with litter problems, reduce the waste stream, and protect our health and ecosystems.
Strengthen Protection from Dangerous Chemicals:
Last session, the legislature passed a nationally significant ban on the dangerous and persistent chemical, PFAS, from food packaging and fire fighting foam. With the expanded testing of water sites by DEEP throughout the state and people realizing how harmful this chemical is, the time is right to build on the success of last year by banning the substance in cookware, textiles, firefighting gear, and all packaging. It would also help protect Connecticut residents and ecosystems from toxic chemicals by banning the chemical Chlorpyrifos from golf courses and severely limiting the use of Glyphosate (Round up) from residential and commercial use.
We are blessed here in Connecticut to have beautiful native wildlife. It is imperative that we protect wildlife here in the state and protect wildlife all over the world. This session, Sierra Club Connecticut, led by our Wildlife Committee, will be advocating humane protections of animals here in the state. These protections include banning steel leg traps; prohibiting the use of wild animals in traveling acts; and promoting bear education, not hunting. Check out our wildlife committee’s article, Wildlife Legislative Priorities in the 2022 Session, for more details.
We look forward to advocating for these legislative priorities (and others) all session long and working with each and every one of you to get these through the General Assembly and onto the Governor’s desk. You can help before the session even starts by sending a message to your legislator for Connecticut to Lead on Climate in 2022. The time is now! The day is here! Talk to you next month!
Ann Gadwah is Advocacy & Outreach Organizer with a focus on our legislative work at the State Capitol.