The emissions that worsen climate disruption and cause air pollution are experienced disproportionately by low wealth and communities of color, for many reasons including that the most polluting and dangerous infrastructure tends to be built in poor and/or Black and Latinx neighborhoods.
I have witnessed –with anger, disgust, and dismay — our state’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) make decisions that will significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and bring more fossil fuel into our state. These decisions are worsening the climate crisis and threatening our most vulnerable populations. On October 30 at the State Capitol, climate and justice advocates are joining together to demand action on the climate immediately: Stop fossil fuel expansion and end environmental racism now.
It is necessary to look critically at what the state of Connecticut is doing about the climate crisis; there is a discrepancy between what is being said and what is being done.
DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes has said, “The climate crisis is upon us. The science is clear….We must aggressively reduce emissions to prevent even worse impacts from climate change.” But, numerous projects that will allow significantly more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere have been given approval by the Connecticut Siting Council and/or the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP): the proposed 650 megawatt Killingly Energy Center and the 350 megawatt Middletown replacement fossil gas power plant; new gas pipeline such as the one planned to cut through protected Wyndham Land Trust property; and a planned gas pipeline capacity expansion at compressor stations in Milford and Brookfield.
DEEP keeps approving new fossil gas powered infrastructure, which contradicts their obligations under the Global Warming Solutions Act. If this is what “We must act now” looks like, we are in big trouble.
In New York and New Jersey, the Department of Environmental Protection or Conservation denied permits for federally approved projects that were not deemed in the state’s best interest, which shows that states can protect themselves.
Connecticut is also encouraging more fossil fuel burning by allowing ratepayer funds to be used by investor owned utilities Eversource and UI/Iberdrola to subsidize new gas powered appliances and equipment for their customers. Every electricity consumer in the state pays into the EnergizeCT energy efficiency fund administered by the utilities and overseen by DEEP. This subsidy perpetuates a reliance on fossil gas at the public’s expense while adding to Eversource and UI’s profits.
The state hasn’t put forth an organized plan to retire fossil fuel electricity generation or pipelines. DEEP’s recently released Integrated Resources Plan only addresses electricity supply. We have become a hub for dirty energy in the region and are now host to excess electricity generation that we don’t need.
Reigning in greenhouse gas emissions is critical, and yet, Connecticut is still encouraging more fossil fuels and more emissions through these actions. The good actions to reduce emissions that have taken place are vastly outweighed by the actions that are allowing and encouraging expansion of gas power plants, pipelines and use of fossil gas. This cannot continue. Climate change is here and impacting us all, with the most damaging effects on the populations that are the least prepared and the most vulnerable to climate disruption, and to the financial, medical, psycho-social, and political impacts that accompany it.
I invite you to join the call to stop gas expansion and end environmental racism on Saturday, October 30.]
Martha Klein is the Beyond Gas Campaign Leader for the Sierra Club Connecticut.