Lawmakers Discuss Energy, Environment Priorities
More than 60 members of CBIA’s E2: Energy and Environment Council got a chance to meet with a bipartisan group of state lawmakers to discuss key issues ahead of the 2024 legislative session.
“This was a great chance for members of the council to ask questions, bring up suggestions, and highlight their concerns with the legislators at the center of those policy discussions,” said CBIA public policy associate Peter Myers, who oversees and advises the council.
“It’s really great that we’re kicking off 2024 even before the session having this conversation with CBIA,” said Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-Westport).
Steinberg was joined by representatives Bill Buckbee (R-New Milford) and Patrick Callahan (R-Danbury) and senators Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Ryan Fazio (R-Greenwich), and Stephen Harding (R-Bethlehem).
A major point of discussion during the roundtable was Connecticut’s energy supply.
“I don’t think it can be understated, what an important question this is for the future of our state and our region,” said Fazio.
He noted that according to ISO New England, we will see a 70% increase in our demand by 2040.
“We’re going to be reliant more and more on more energy supply,” added Callahan.
Steinberg said “It’s not simply about increasing supply, it’s what we’re going to do about demand.”
“I think we need an all-of-the-above strategy,” said Fazio. “There should be wind, there should be solar, there should be nuclear, there should be hydro, there should be natural gas.”
As the lawmakers discussed options, many agreed that difficult decisions need to be made.
“It’s my goal to keep the lights on,” said Needleman, who added that the state needs to work toward decarbonizing the power grid and increasing renewable energy.
“It’s also my goal to manage the affordability issue to the extent that we can, but I will not lie to the public and say we’re going to be cheaper.”
“I think that’s where the balance needs to be, between that laudable effort and the affordable solution for the people in the state,” added Buckbee.
Connecticut’s handling of solid waste is another key issue for the E2 council.
Right now, the state ships out 860,000 tons of waste every year.
“Waste management in Connecticut has been broken ever since the closure of the MIRA facility,” added Steinberg.
When it was running, the MIRA facility handled about one third of the waste generated in the state.
Harding said dealing with the issue “is going to start with utilizing the infrastructure we already have.”
He said it’s important to make investments that “enhance our waste energy facilities on current existing sites we have.”
“I think we can go a long way in addressing the waste issue in that regard,” he said.
“There are technologies out there that we’re looking at here in the state of Connecticut,” added Steinberg.
He pointed to pyrolysis and gasification, which converts waste into non-toxic ash.
“We are encouraging DEEP to look at this and to facilitate permitting, so that we can really get some of these plants created.”
Callahan noted that there needs to be improvement in the state’s recycling process.
“The separation is not happening,” he said. “The cross-contamination is happening. There’s not a lot of market for it, so that’s something we need to look at.”
The group also discussed the issue of expanding broadband access in the state.
The Lamont administration recently released its draft digital equity plan, designed to expand internet access in the state.
“My primary focus,” said Harding, “is working with industry to expand broadband access to the rural areas of our state.”
Harding cited the lack of service around Sharon Hospital as hindering efforts to attract and retain workers.
“Young professionals in nursing and medicine don’t want to stay in a place where they can’t get cell phone service,” he said.
“When this topic comes up, we key on larger population areas,” added Buckbee.
“We need to make sure some of that money we’re receiving expands that opportunity for people into those rural areas of Connecticut.”
The discussion also touched on issues including state regulation, the Transfer Act, and reducing PFAS chemicals.
“These open, productive conversations are critical to help shape the policies surrounding important issues for Connecticut,” said Myers.
“We thank these lawmakers for taking the time to connect with council members and share their insights and priorities.”
The legislative session begins Wednesday, Feb. 7.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Pete Myers (860.244.1921).
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.