The wrong-way Republicans are on the dark side of history again, proposing tax cuts for their wealthy donors and oil companies while gutting programs that have helped to fuel the rise of America’s alternative energy industry. Solar and wind power, two of the fastest growing (and cleanest) sources of power in this country, provided nearly 7 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2016 (the same as hydropower). More Americans work in solar power today than in the coal industry. But various Republican proposals in House and Senate tax bills have targeted the incentives that have helped alternative energy surge, while providing tax and other benefits to fossil fuel and nuclear power purveyors — including opening up the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling.
When you think of national parks, you probably think about vast stretches of green spaces where the daily routines of nature play out unaltered by human activities. But America also has “blue parks” to protect very special areas of our ocean, and the newest is off the coast of New England. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument —the first monument of its kind off the east coast of the U.S.— has canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and mountains higher than anything east of the Rockies that rise from the deep ocean floor
Last week, without comment, the White House published a study officially titled the Climate Science Special Report. Contrary to many statements and positions articulated by President Trump, members of his Cabinet, his surrogates and his supporters, the report clearly states that Earth’s climate is changing, and “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
The state agency in charge of environmental protection here in Connecticut is proposing changes that will restrict its citizens’ ability to contribute to a cleaner energy future. This may sound crazy, but it makes perfect sense to our local utility companies, which are lobbying hard in Hartford for such restrictions, as are power companies in other state capitals.
The Millstone Power Station supplies more than 90 percent of the carbon-free electricity generated in Connecticut, and in fact is the largest carbon-free generator in all of New England. That’s just one reason why allowing Millstone to close prematurely would be a mistake. As a native New Englander who ran the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear energy program under President Obama, I’ve followed this issue closely. Let me offer some perspective on the important issues at hand.
The state budget is still an open book. It is not hard to see that Connecticut has serious unresolved fiscal challenges, but it is also apparent that our state has fundamental advantages and strong economic development tools at its disposal to promote job creation and infrastructure investment. One such tool is the Connecticut Green Bank.
As the five-year anniversary of Sandy approaches near the end of what has seemed like a relentless hurricane season, no one should become complacent. Connecticut escaped the punishing onslaught of Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria this year, but that luck won’t hold out forever.
Has the experience of Sandy left the state in better shape to deal with hurricanes and superstorms to come? Five experts shared their insights…
The world’s climate, and Connecticut’s, is heating up rapidly. Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the destructive tropical hurricanes this summer are just the start of more extreme storms we can expect from our warming of the oceans. Global warming has increased the probability and severity of extremely hot and wet weather worldwide. While the political shouting in Washington continues, there is a broad scientific consensus that these climatic changes are driven by the heating of Earth’s atmosphere from carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels. If we are going to limit extreme climate change, we need to make every effort to utilize every non-fossil energy source we have. And timing matters.
What do the Great Depression and climate change have in common? The former transformed individual lives and geopolitics for generations. Its effects are still felt today. The decade-long catastrophe was arguably the most consequential episode of the 20th Century. Our warming planet will have a similar, likely larger impact on us and on our descendants. It already has started transforming how we live. In 2099, Global Warming (let’s call a spade a spade) will be viewed as the single most significant occurrence of this century—if not of all time.
Gov. Dannel Malloy and the legislature in a bipartisan fashion created the Connecticut Green Bank as part of a stated policy to make energy in Connecticut less expensive, more reliable and sustainable. Let’s not squander the significant progress we have made in pursuit of all three of those goals. The Connecticut Green Bank should not be used as a cash machine to fund general government programs, but as an engine of our future economy.
The on-going state budget challenge is forcing the legislature to grapple with tough challenges. It’s in many ways a no-win situation, but let’s not make it worse by returning to old spending habits instead of investing in new ideas that provide much better returns. Continuing investments in energy efficiency pay off and funding for DEEP is fundamental to keeping Connecticut a clean, healthy, beautiful place to live. But as a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Green Bank (CGB), I can’t help but weigh in to remind the legislature that on the side of the spending ledger representing the future, the CGB is an idea that works.
How many economists does it take to change a light bulb? None. The market will take care of it. The Connecticut gubernatorial campaign is gearing up with candidates offering “big ideas.” Sadly, these seem more like the old cereal commercial, “taste Frosted Flakes again, for the very first time.” What is missing from the current political debates is an honest discussion of the values we want to shape our future world.