If Not Now, When?

March 20, 2024

If Not Now, When?
March 20, 2024

Today the Legislature’s Environment Committee voted along party lines to advance HB 5004 - an ambitious omnibus bill to address climate change — to the full House for a vote.

I speak every day with constituents who care deeply about reducing carbon and making progress on transitioning away from a fossil fuel-based economy. Too many of them, however, assume that here at the Capitol, we are all rowing in the same direction when it comes to protecting our environment and our children’s futures. Alas, we are not. So, I am grateful to all of you who testified, emailed me with support, rallied at the Capitol, and spoke to others about this piece of legislation.

The bill, officially known as HB 5004 "An Act Concerning the Implementation of Certain Climate Change Measures," had a public hearing on March 8. At last count, 356 people submitted testimony in favor of the bill and 62 against (most were industry lobbyists or representatives; and many opposed were anonymous). Read the testimonies HERE.

The bill, referred to as the 2024 Connecticut Climate Protection Act by supporters and “the Green Monster” by detractors (a name we have gladly appropriated), is a priority for the House Democratic Caucus, and I am grateful to our caucus leadership for giving it the time and staff resources it deserves.

I was joined by fellow legislators, students, doctors, members of the business community, and environmental advocates at a press conference earlier this month, ahead of the Environment Committee's public hearing on HB 5004.   

This complicated bill has 21 sections (read a summary HERE). Basically, it seeks to respond to the climate crisis in four overarching ways:

1) Declaring a climate crisis and updating the Global Warming Solutions Act to make Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions targets more in line with other states in the region;

2) Supporting businesses and towns that engage in clean economy sectors or employ environmentally sustainable practices by: creating tax credits and incentives, developing a pilot incubator program for entrepreneurs in green technologies, and creating a sustainable municipal purchasing model;

3) Developing plans for transitioning to a clean economy through such measures as expanding solar and heat pumps, requiring electrification of new state buildings, expanding workforce training, and creating a consumer’s energy bill of rights, and

4) Supporting nature-based solutions, such as protecting old-growth forests, controlling invasive species, restoring coastal habitats, and increasing carbon sequestration.

The legislation has strong support among environmental advocates, including Save the Sound, The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut, Connecticut River Conservancy, Citizens' Climate Lobby CT, Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, Connecticut Land Conservation Council, and CT League of Conservation Voters.

"The 2024 Connecticut Climate Protection Act is a vital step towards addressing the current climate crisis, promoting environmental justice, and fostering a clean energy economy in our state," said Aziz Dehkan, Executive Director of Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. "This important legislation addresses the urgent need for meaningful climate action and takes proactive measures to ensure a sustainable and resilient future for all of Connecticut."

With this bill, we're saying that sustainability is not only the right thing to do but also the smart, economically competitive thing to do. I'm grateful to our Democratic Leadership for recognizing the importance of climate action, to all the advocates who have worked hard with me on this bill, to business leaders who support it, to my legislative colleagues who know we're running out of time, and to all the young people who still have faith in government.

Sometime over the next few weeks, it will be my great privilege (and certainly a challenge) to take this bill out on the floor of the House. If and when it passes out of the House, it will go on to the Senate, then to the Governor to be signed into law, and then put into practice. While it won’t solve the problem, it’s a pretty good start.

Here is some media coverage on the bill:
CT Mirror
Fox 61
NBC Connecticut
CT Newsjunkie
CT Examiner
WSHU/CT Public Radio
Fox61's The Real Story (You can also click on the graphic below)