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Environment

CATE STEEL 2020

 

Connecticut’s  environmental community contributes to increased prosperity, job creation, quality of life, and better health. Investment in Connecticut’s environment and a clean energy economy have long-term economic and cost saving benefits. They are a benefit to all people in the state. 

 

Reduction of Greenhouse Gases and Ending Fossil Fuel Expansion:

Despite Connecticut’s clean energy goals and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, use of fossil fuels continues to expand. The fossil fuel industry is rushing to build out new gas-fired power plants and gas pipelines throughout the nation including here in Connecticut.  

 

Connecticut must guard against the use of fossil fuels as  gas is primarily composed of methane.  (87-times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 20-year span.) Gas operations cannot be made safe for our climate or public health, and the growth of pipelines and power plants will further pollute our air and water, fragment habitats, and threaten communities.

 

When elected I  will: 

1) support and vote for a moratorium on construction on new fracked gas power plants and the building of new gas pipelines; 

2) support required agency rulemaking, permitting, and other decision-making be consistent with Connecticut's Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) climate goals;  

3) support the repeal of the pipeline tax, incentives for gas conversions, and gas appliance incentives in energy efficiency programs;  

4) support Connecticut’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals to encourage a switch from fossil fuel heating to electricity which will result in a sharp decrease in statewide fossil fuel demand.  

5) support a gas transition strategy to shield residents from sharply higher heating bills, protect workers, and meet the state’s climate targets.

6) support a requirement that new buildings be all electric and zero emission. 

 

Pass a Green New Deal for Connecticut

Governor Lamont set a goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040 in Executive Order  Connecticut will most benefit if this goal is codified to set a goal in all sectors (electricity,  transportation and buildings), while creating good, high-paying green jobs, and investing in our most vulnerable communities. (Green New Deal)

I support Green New Deal legislation that includes 

    1. meeting our greenhouse gas reduction goals 
    2. Investing in renewable energy for our electricity, heating, and transportation sectors
    3. Investing in energy efficiency
    4. Prioritizing equitable transit-oriented development
    5. Prioritizing environmental justice by guaranteeing real opportunities for community engagement with low income and communities of color with full participation in the development of the clean energy economy.
    6. Guaranteeing that the transition to a clean energy economy is just with common sense provisions like prevailing wage, project labor agreements, and mitigation of the economic hardship created by the transition away from fossil fuels while helping them join a new, diversified economy. 
    7. Requiring public accountability across all state agencies.
    8. Update recycling initiatives
    9. Update bottle bill
    10. Analyze single stream recycling programs
    11. Develop beautification programs that clean up neighborhoods

 

Banning Single Use Plastics

Single-use plastics threaten our marine environment and take  up unnecessary space in our waste stream. Connecticut should cut down on plastic waste by banning toxic polystyrene packaging, plastic straws, and other single use plastics.

 

Expanding and Modernizing the “Bottle Bill”

The Bottle Bill is effective for recycling glass, PET plastic and aluminum single-serve beverage containers. We can increase recycling rates and improve efficiency by expanding it to include juices, teas, wines, spirits, nips, and other beverages not currently covered. This bottle bill deposit should be increased and expanded  to keep in line with other states with adequate funds for the programs that run it. 

Improve and increase composting

Improve mulching of trees and shrubs and grass

Water recycling systems

 

Eliminate the Use of Dangerous Toxic Chemicals 

The use of toxic chemicals contaminates our water and threatens public health. Connecticut must ban harmful PFAS chemicals in food packaging and firefighting foam and restrict the use of toxic pesticides, including neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos, and glyphosate (Roundup).

When elected, I will support and vote for legislation that will ban the use of toxic pesticides and PFAS chemicals in food packaging and firefighting foam. 

 

Protecting Connecticut’s and the World’s Wildlife

As climate disruption continues to wreak havoc on the planet and Connecticut, the protection of Connecticut’s rich and remarkably diverse range of species, as well as migratory and international wildlife is extremely important. The interconnectedness of all species is highlighted now more than ever. Wildlife trafficking and habitat loss are not only a threat to animals in the wild, but to humans as well. 

 

I will support a  bill banning exotic or wild animals from performing or being shown in traveling circuses. 

I will support a ban on any future captivity, sale, import, export or breeding of certain cetaceans (namely whales and dolphins) in the state of Connecticut. 

I will oppose a bill authorizing a bear hunting season and instead advocate and vote for funding for a DEEP-led bear education program on how to coexist with Connecticut’s bear 

I will support prohibition of the sale/ trade of rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory. 

I will support prohibitIon of  the import, sale and possession of the African “big six”, which includes African Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Black Rhinoceros, White Rhinoceros, and Giraffes in the state of Connecticut.

 

Enhancing Voting Rights

All voices should be  fairly represented, heard and able to  participate in the democratic process to support a stabilized climate and a clean environment that benefits us all. When any group of people is cut off from equal representation, they are at risk for a range of harms – from environmental contamination to the export of jobs and closure of schools. When voices are left out, drowned out by corporate influence, or district gerrymandering, democracy suffers and so does our ability to address big issues like the climate crisis. To this end, voting time should be more flexible; absentee ballot voting and vote by mail made available. Automatic Voter Registration and simplification of the voter registration process for returning citizens should occur.  

 

Transportation Issues

Cars, trucks and buses and other vehicles on Connecticut roads account for almost 40% of the  greenhouse emissions produced in our state.  Nationwide, the transportation sector is accountable for 28% of all carbon emissions, and that number is growing every year. Connecticut must invest in clean transportation, including expanding public transportation, electrifying our public transit and state fleets, expanding access to electric vehicles and EV chargers, and creating more walking/ biking trails throughout the state. 

 

Connecticut’s public mass transportation system is dated and not nearly expansive enough for many of the regions in our state. 

I support rebates for Electric Vehicles by voting for funding for the CHEAPR program. 

I will vote to provide funding to build EV charging stations in Connecticut cities and towns. 

 

 

 

Clean Air and Water Issues

Clean air and clean water contributes to a thriving economy, increased quality of life, and better health for our citizens. Connecticut’s air quality has been rated an F for many years, contributing to increased respiratory illness, health issues, and accelerated climate disruption. Our water sources are at risk from pollution, corporate greed, drought, and climate change. We need strong legislative action to ensure that our air and water are clean, protected, and accessible to all Connecticut’s residents. 

 

I will work to ensure that the DEEP budget has adequate resources to perform all required air emissions and water discharge compliance inspections, permit reviews, and enforcement actions.

I will be a leader in helping implement the recommendations put out in Connecticut’s state water plan.

State Parks 

In February of 2018, the state of Connecticut launched its Passport to Parks program allowing Connecticut residents who have valid state license plates to access all state parks for free. Created by the bipartisan state budget that was adopted in 2017, Passport to Parks is supported through a $10 fee that is being applied through the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to non-commercial vehicles that have new registrations, renewals, and plate transfers registered. This money provides DEEP with greater financial support, allowing several services at the parks that had been previously reduced to be restored.

I will vote  for funding for its direct purpose regarding the Passport to Parks funding.

 

Energy Efficiency/ RGGI

The Connecticut Budget in the past has called for ratepayer funds to be raided from the bank accounts of Connecticut’s electric utilities and put into the State’s General Fund to plug unrelated budget holes. This money comes from ratepayers’ electric bills and it funds programs for the Energy Efficiency Fund, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and the Connecticut Green Bank. These programs help people save thousands of dollars on energy bills, lower carbon emissions, and lower the cost of clean energy programs.

I will vote to protect the Connecticut energy efficiency fund. 

Connecticut receives revenues from auctions for emissions credits conducted by the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Under Connecticut statutes, these funds are dedicated to energy efficiency programs which help thousands of residents and businesses, and to the Green Bank, which leverages these funds to attract far more in private funding to advance renewable energy installations. Both programs create thousands of Connecticut jobs.

 

I will oppose any diversion of RGGI funds away from energy efficiency programs and the Green Bank.

 

 

 

Environmental Justice 

Environmental Justice means that all people should be treated fairly under environmental laws regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or economic status.  The Environmental Justice movement has emerged in response to a growing body of evidence nationally and statewide indicating that low income; racial and ethnic minority groups may be exposed to higher than average amounts of environmental pollution. Industrial air pollution, lead paint, waste disposal facilities, pesticides and contaminated fish are just a few examples.

 

Environmental justice impacts New London County. In attempts to bring regionalization to the area, it is vitally important that we consider the impact of our environment and how it affects our neighboring towns.  Connecticut’s environmental justice policy requires applicants seeking a permit for a new or expanded "applicable facility" that is proposed to be located in an "environmental justice community," to file an Environmental Justice Public Participation Plan with and receive approval from the DEEP prior to filing any application for such a permit. This law has significant loopholes that need to be closed.I will support a bill that strengthens Connecticut’s environmental justice law and closes the loopholes in CT environmental justice policy.

 

ACTIONS TO DATE ON SUCH MATTERS:

 

*I am working with a team of individuals regarding anti racism, bias awareness and working as a collaborative to have round table discussions improving our awareness, actions, and advocacies. 

 

*I have hosted zoom chats for POC to voice their concerns and inform listeners.

 

*I have been on a panel discussing next steps to BLM.

 

*I am on a town committee—East Lyme Black Lives Matter.  We are developing action plans with the school and town.  

 

* I hosted a TV show with a city councilman, Kevin Booker, Jr. talking about BLM, racism, bias, and next steps.