Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5600

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING CONNECTICUT GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS.

Vote Date:

3/7/2008

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/27/2008

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Environment Committee; Rep. Roy; Sen. Meyer; CFE; Environment CT; Environment Northeast; Nature Conservancy; Clean Water Action; Sierra Club

REASONS FOR BILL:

The purpose of the bills is to reduce Connecticut's carbon footprint through encouraging energy independence and emission reduction. The substitute language makes several changes of note. Language was changed in section 2(f) of the bill to remove specific requirements. Section 3 was removed entirely. Section 4 allows for money from the auction of emission allowances to be used for state agencies to adopt regulations. Section 11 was also removed from the underlying bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Commissioner Gina McCarthy, DEP recommends that any further legislative action on climate be supported by the proceeds to be realized from the auction of carbon dioxide allowances under the RGGI program rather than impose additional burdens on existing agency resources. She calls for an integrated and coordinated multi-agency and multi-sector approach that recognizes that climate change is more than an environmental issue, but also an energy, transportation, land use, agriculture, forestry and natural resources management issue. She states that the goals of the bill must be attainable in order to support creditability, and suggests tying both the mid-term and long-term goals to a 2005 baseline, rather than a 1990 one. She recommends that the General Assembly provide guidance to state agencies who will be involved in this process, who have little programmatic experience in addressing climate change.

W. David LeVasseur, Under Secretary, Intergovernmental Policy Division, OPM does not support the new language in Section 7(c) (9) which amends the CEPA to include “an analysis of the effect of the proposed action on greenhouse gas and other air pollution emissions and the economic and safety needs of the state”. They find the phrase “economic and safety needs of the state” problematic. They feel the language is duplicative of what already exists. Economic issues are already addressed via a cost/benefit analysis, and public safety issues are also required to be evaluated. They also feel that most projects undergoing CEPA review are local and relatively modest, and do not rise to the level of impacting the states economic and safety needs; therefore it would be impractical to try to evaluate them on such a scale.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Lynn Taborsak, Climate Change Specialist, League of Women Voters of Connecticut supports the adoption of the many new solutions provided in this bill, believing that they will positively impact out economy, environment and health and well-being of Connecticut residents. They support measures including mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are real, quantifiable and verifiable; the establishment of low-carbon fuel standards for motor vehicles and home heating fuels; not allowing permits for new fossil fuel plants and power purchase contracts that exceed the carbon dioxide emissions rate of one hundred pounds per megawatt-hour; requiring higher energy conservation and efficiency standards for new construction and major renovations; and requiring a certified energy inspection as part of the certificate of occupancy process.

PSEG Power Connecticut supports this bill because they believe climate change is real and represents the fundamental environmental and public policy challenge of our time. They advocate for federal legislation to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a schedule sufficient to protect out climate. They point out the importance of implementing the initiatives in a manner that will allow them to be harmonized with comprehensive, comparable federal action. The ultimate goal should be one program and one market that set clear, transparent price signals for carbon sufficient to spur investments in energy efficiency, renewable resources, and new, low- and- zero carbon electric generating technologies.

Roger Smith, Campaign Director, Clean Water Action supports this bill, believing that it importantly directs state agencies to create incentives and regulations that are robust enough to reduce emissions to levels called for in the 2004 Act; since so far, action has not been sufficient to achieve this goal. They support efforts to promote mass transit, promote growth along rail and bus lines and promote rideshare programs. They believe that they Climate Plan is dated sine it does not mention options such as hybrid cars.

Martin Mador, Sierra Club supports this bill stating that establishing a carbon cap is critically important and stressing the moral mandate to protect our earth for the generations to come. This bill is an essential part of the solution that should include individuals, the states, the federal government and the international community.

David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy strongly supports this bill stating that the bill would help us implement both big, dramatic changes as well as relatively smaller changes. He stresses the impact that human behavior will have on natural resources and communities, such as fish habitats that serve our fishing industries as well as food supply, that will be effected by sea level rise. Connecticut should not feel they are too small to have an impact on climate change, and needs to take some leadership on addressing our contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

Christopher Phelps, Program Director, Environment Connecticut supports this bill which urgently addresses the need to cut Connecticut's emissions of global warming pollution, as its top legislative priority of 2008. They believe this bold step is necessary to protect the environment, the economy and future generations. They also state that the implementation of the State's 2004 plan has faltered and that the state will fail to achieve the 2010 emissions goal. This bill would re-invigorate the state's efforts by requiring the state to adopt necessary regulations and policies needed to reach the 2020 goal.

State Representative Patricia M. Widlitz supports this bill because it sets strong directives to help get the state back on track with the goals set in 2004, and sets long-term targets. The bill builds upon work already being done by the Governor's Steering Committee on Climate Change and RGGI, as well as engages the DPUC, OPM, DEP, DOT, and DAS. She supports the bill as a representative of costal towns, concerned about the impact of rising sea levels on local infrastructure.

Mayor John DeStefano Jr., City of New Haven strongly supports this bill. As the mayor of the City of New Haven, he sees the expansion of the transportation options in the northeast corridor as vital to environmental concerns as well as economic development. New Haven is also vulnerable to the negative effects of sea level rise induced by global warming. He supports reducing carbon content of fuels, as well as methods to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Nathaniel O. Keohane, Director of Economic Policy and Analysis, Environmental Defense supports this bill stressing that scientists report that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below current levels by 2050 to avoid the worst effects of global warming. He warns of record heat waves, extended droughts and widespread species extinction, among other catastrophes, it we do not act now. He strongly recommends that a cap-and-trade system, designed to be compatible with those in other states, be central in Connecticut's efforts to meet its goals. A cap-and-trade system will reduce emissions over time and let the market seek out and develop the lowest-cost ways of cutting pollution.

Charles J. Rothenberger, Staff Attorney, Connecticut Fund for the Environment supports this bill because he states that Connecticut is not currently on target to meet the goals that it established in 2004. He refers to recent estimates that we will meet only 63.4 percent of the 2010 goal, and 38.2 percent of the 2020 goal. He states that voluntary targets are not sufficient and that mandatory limits are necessary. The carbon cap can significantly boost the local state economy by increasing investments in energy efficiency, thereby reducing energy costs and overheads for local businesses, and by increasing private investment in clean renewable energy technologies. He also points out that Connecticut ranks third in the nation for highest peak concentrations of ozone, and that the Northeast is the world's seventh largest emitter of greenhouse gasses.

Jamie Howland, Policy Analyst, Environment Northeast supports this bill stating that it is important in achieving the goals set in 2004. Specifically, they highlight section 5 which addresses the need for a full lifetime analysis determining the life cycle carbon impact of any potential low carbon fuel. They also encourage the committee to require that a finding of a similar net carbon benefit be a condition of any economic incentive or tax benefit tied to biofuels.

Elizabeth Fleming, Policy Coordinator, Vice President, Northeast Organic Farming Association of CT supports this bill stating that global climate change threatens our ability to sustainably grow our own food. She lists changes in weather cycles, pest populations, and severe drought as impacts of global warming on agriculture.

Mayor Kevin J. Cavanagh, City of New London supports this bill, stating that creating a mandatory statewide global warming pollution cap is a step in the right direction. He states that the city of New London is committed to doing their part by making their buildings more efficient, exploring energy options and looking to “Green” any new or renovated city buildings. He believes that a state law is necessary to get the state back on track with implementing the state's global warming plan.

Barbara Muller, Area Director, Connecticut Chapter, American Jewish Committee supports this bill stating that it is our moral obligation to leave an inhabitable, livable world to future generations. They point out that increased reliance on alternative energy sources and decreased dependency on fossil fuels means increased security of Americans at home and abroad and will also support Israel's quest for peace and security. Less domestic money funneling to oil-producing countries linked to terrorism, means less funding for terrorism and more capital for domestic investment.

Gregg Dancho, Director, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo supports this bill stating that the zoo uses conservation as one of its cornerstones. They are concerned about the plight of amphibians around the world that are being threatened with wholesale extinction in part from Global Warming. They believe they will see a drastic decline in the populations of amphibians in our own backyard if the rate of global warming does not abate.

The Global Warming Club, Amity High School, Woodbridge, CT supports this bill because they believe we will regret the decision not to. They believe without a carbon cap we will continue to alter our climate, sea levels, air quality, human health, plant and animal populations, crop quality and water distribution, and the economy.

Rylan I. Truman, Student, UCONN School of Social Work supports this bill as he states the health risks associated with global warming and poor air quality disproportionately affect already disadvantaged groups such as children, elderly and the poor. These vulnerable populations, especially in urban centers, have limited means and resources to cope with dramatic temperature change. He believes that making a concerted effort toward reducing green house gas emissions can serve as an effective preventative measure in avoiding such public health issues as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Shirley Adams, Newington CT supports this bill as a citizen, stating that the bill is a god first step. She believes that we are capable of achieving our carbon goals with existing and developing technologies and proper leadership, and that we cannot wait for the federal government to act.

Rebecca Waldo, Waldo Renewable Electric, LLC supports this bill stressing the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by requiring a low-carbon fuel standard, revisiting the building code and creating a new class of certified energy inspectors.

Yale College Democrats strongly support this bill stating that as students and future leaders they are aware that global warming is becoming an increasingly urgent issue and they encourage the Legislature to act before it's too late. They point out the potential impact of global warming on New Haven, such as a rise in sea level which would increase the chances of shoreline flooding, soil erosion and massive property damage. They state that although Connecticut cannot reverse climate change on its own, they encourage participation in a regional cap-and-trade system and a genuine effort to cut carbon emissions.

Anthony Rish, Professor of Alternative Fuels and Automotive Technology supports this bill stating the importance of carbon caps. He does not feel that the federal government will take the lead on this issue, even though he feels they should. He states that technology exists to combat the worst case scenarios of climate change. He believes the bill will be a starting point to facilitate changes in our energy infrastructure for the good of Connecticut and Mankind, as well as boost emerging “Green Collar” industries.

Marla McPherson, Avon, CT supports this bill pointing out the countless methods of reduction in carbon in Connecticut such as the updated building energy codes and new regulations that encourage investment in low carbon transportation. She also points out that Connecticut will benefit from the raised demand for 'green collar jobs', such as energy inspectors. She believes this bill takes the important first steps needed to lessen our ecological footprint.

Colin Carlson, Coventry, CT supports this bill. He is an 11 year old student and youth activist who believes this bill sets achievable, important goals. He believes Connecticut will benefit from the increased investment in alternative energy sources that this bill encourages. He is concerned about the impact greenhouse gas emissions have has on weather patterns, sea levels, air quality and animal and plant populations.

George Rawitscher, Professor of Physics at UCONN supports this bill, as he states global warming is a big threat to our livelihood. Any measure to reduce its effect is much needed.

Errol Horner, Chester CT supports this bill encouraging Legislators to be leaders as others states take this important initiative. He believes that each state must step up and address this problem or risk our nation losing our economic future and democratic principles.

Sidney F. Gale, Guilford, CT supports this bill, believing it is an important and overdue step forward by the State to complete the missing half of Connecticut's Climate Change Plan. She believes, however, that the bill skips the first step which should be the state initiating a study by the Connecticut Academy of Sciences to study and report on the possible effects of Climate Change, as it may specifically impact our State. She believes the time of treating the subject with complacency and efforts of symbolism needs to come to an end and the time to act must be now.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Eric J. Brown, Connecticut Business and Industry Association opposes this bill because he states that Connecticut is currently at the forefront of climate change initiatives, add that this bill would override the years of collaborative deliberations among state and regional stake holders that resulted in the policies that put the State in the place it is today. He believes that the bill is overly pessimistic and therefore advances a policy based on fear and worst-case scenarios that has no regard for the State's energy prices, reliability and economic well-being. He is also concerned about the implications for businesses in Connecticut. He believes the State should continue to work within the current framework of the Connecticut Climate Change Action Plan, continue to work to implement RGGI and urge federal legislation for a national carbon program.

Connecticut Conference of Municipalities opposes sections 8 through 10 of this bill. They oppose including any provisions in the state building code that specifically directs projects toward a particular form of building measures. Also, they are concerned about requiring a new special category of energy inspectors to provide final approval before a certification of occupancy can be issued. They feel it could delay the completion of projects and increase costs. They encourage the state to provide incentives to project owners to incorporate more “green” measures into their projects.

Christian A. Herb, Associate Director, Independent Connecticut Petroleum (ICPA) opposes this bill because they feel many of the proposals will potentially threaten local, family owned heating oil dealers from competing with fuel suppliers from neighboring states. They believe this bill would result in supply problems and price spikes that would be beyond the control of the retail heating oil and gasoline dealers that supply Connecticut with fuel. They believe that the current incentive programs are the answer, as the oil heat industry has already brought new, improved technologies to the marketplace that use 41% less fuel than thirty years ago. They believe that the market place has solutions that address the concerns that this bill attempts to deal with.

Jim Ginnetti, Vice President- External Affairs, Firstlight Power Resources opposes this bill because they believe the goals are arbitrary, overly aggressive and unrealistic. The goal of reducing emissions by 80% would require that generation necessary to serve Connecticut's current load would need to limit their emissions to approximately 125 lbs/MWh, which is nearly 90% below the current output of even the most efficient natural gas fired generator. They believe the restriction of CO2 emissions would leave natural gas fired plants as the only viable, permitted option which would only further exacerbate the state's dependence on that fuel. The increased demand would lead to higher prices for natural gas, and in turn for electricity.

Cynthia Karlic, Regional Environmental Manage, NRG Energy, Inc. opposes sections of the bill. They support the idea of federal legislation in the form of cap-and-trade, as they feel it will be far more cost effective than state or regional initiatives. They are concerned about the cost of this proposed legislation to consumers, as well as producers. They oppose section 2(b) which requires DEP and DPUC to set emissions limits for the distribution sector based on consumption and purchases of electricity from the regional power pool. They feel this would be difficult, if not impossible to implement for various reasons. They also see problems with Section 2(c) because they feel the basis for the cost of $10/ton of CO2 is not documented and it is not clear why the threshold is necessary. Lastly, Section 4(c) of the raised bill, which expands reporting for GHG emissions may add significantly to the burden and complexity of reporting and tracking for smaller emitters and the State alike.

Steven Guveyan, Connecticut Petroleum Council opposes certain sections of the bill. They state that a low-carbon fuel standard attempts to “force” certain technologies, such as plug-in hybrids, into the market, even if they are not economic, and could cost consumers a lot of money. They also believe federal rules already require a large amount of bio-fuels. They are opposed to DEP being solely responsible for deciding on a model to use to measure full life-cycle green house gas. They believe the bill is overly complex and will potentially be costly for consumers buying fuels in the future. They feel it should be shortened and simplified.

Barry J. Trilling, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties: supports the bill's repeal of changes to the Connecticut State Building Code, and they suggest that the legislation require guidance that recognizes the importance of input from stakeholders such as the builders, investors, owners and developers of properties that will be affected. However, they would support the repeal of the mandatory LEED provisions that would result in potentially disastrous consequences.

Reported by: Marissa Kirshenbaum

Date: March 25, 2008