Alexander Brash A great state with a green future
At the Climate Change Forum hosted by the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club held at Trinity College this month, only one candidate displayed the depth of the understanding of the issues and the passion for the future of our state that I can support; Ned Lamont.
Interestingly, none of the Republican gubernatorial candidates even showed up. The three other candidates who did participate, clearly lacked a solid background in the issues of energy, conservation, and economics. Ned, by contrast, laid out a vision for our state that combines revitalized “livable” cities, clean energy, green jobs, with the preservation of our state’s beautiful historic sites and natural landscapes, from its forests and farmlands to the salt marshes along Long Island Sound.
With respect to energy, Connecticut is already ahead of the curve, and has done a great job in shifting from the dirtiest fossil fuels (i.e. coal, fuel oil) to a greater dependency on natural gas. While natural gas is cheaper, more efficient, and cleaner to burn, a good portion now comes from fracking operations. Ned pitched his idea of speeding up our transition to renewable fuels (wind, solar, hydroelectric), supporting local micro-grids, installing fairer net metering, and undertaking these efforts and more in a way that drives down customer costs. Home energy conservation, a regional confederation for renewable energy, lower utility rates based on performance instead of capital outlays, are all examples of how he proposes to do this.
Ned Lamont, unlike any other candidate, also made a point of professing his love for the historical sites and beautiful natural landscapes that characterize our state. Under his watch, he pledges to ensure that the funds the state has long dedicated to historic site restorations, open space purchases, and protecting our environment will be restored. Our state parks would remain open and their maintenance funded, and the state’s Department of Energy & Environment would be fully funded to the level necessary to do its job; regulating the cleanliness and safety of our air, water and soils, and protecting our state’s greatest assets; its people and natural resources.
Finally, and most compellingly, Ned has talked of the idea of “livable cities,” an outgrowth of decades of work by the Brookings Institute, Bloomberg Foundation and others. His idea is to focus on Connecticut’s urban areas — from New London to Stamford and up to Hartford — and modeled on best practices elsewhere, build partnerships and wisely invest in them so as to make them cleaner, more attractive, and even more vibrant. In strengthening their resiliency, adding mass transit, urban parks, renewable energy, and supporting their neighborhoods and cultural vibrancy; these cities will be competitive with San Antonio, Seattle, Pittsburgh and others, to which millennials and others now flock.
Ned painted a picture of retaining services, re-imagining government, energy, mass-transit, and growing our way out of the state’s current debt crisis. He also embraced the beauty and history of our state like no other candidate, while staying focused on the critical need of bringing more jobs to the state. Ned articulated the idea of leveraging the strength of the state’s people and natural assets, combined with a drive toward innovation and partnerships, to not only get Connecticut back on track, but to firmly put it on a better path to the future. He has my vote on Aug. 14.
Greenwich resident Alexander Brash has lived in Lakeville, New London, Essex, and Woodbridge. A conservationist, he has worked for WWF, Nature Conservancy, and been an executive at NYC Parks, National Parks Conservation Association, and Connecticut Audubon. He also served on the Greenwich Conservation Commission.