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Environmentalists Condemn Proposed Raids on Energy Funds

Environmentalists say every $1 invested in the Green Bank brings $8 of private investment in clean energy. (MariaGodfrida/Pixabay)
Environmentalists say every $1 invested in the Green Bank brings $8 of private investment in clean energy. (MariaGodfrida/Pixabay)
September 28, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Environmental advocates say state legislators should not try to balance the budget by raiding funds that protect air quality and support clean energy and energy efficiency.

The Republican 2-year budget, passed with some Democratic support, would take $10 million a year from the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative, and $13 million a year from the Green Bank. But Louis Burch, Connecticut program director with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said these are critical programs necessary to help the state meet its clean energy goals.

"We look at this as a hidden tax on ratepayers because these are ratepayer-funded programs that are dedicated to fund specific clean energy initiatives in our state,” Burch said.

The state is trying to close a $5.1 billion budget gap. House Minority Leader Themis Klarides has said she had to choose between cutting those programs or cutting social services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Burch contends that while taking money from RGGI or the Green Bank may be easy, it's not smart, and it's not the way for the state to meet its obligations.

"The answer to budget shortfalls is not to steal money from another pot,” he said. "It's to come up with a reliable funding source for those services that you hold at such a high premium."

Legislators and Gov. Dannel Malloy want to balance the budget without raising taxes.

Burch pointed out, the funds they want to take are also important to Connecticut's economy. He estimates that every dollar invested in the Green Bank, leverages $8 of private investment in developing renewable energy sources.

"So you're talking about something that drives significant private investment in our state, helps to build jobs, while also helping us to meet our clean energy goals,” Burch said.

The governor has said he will veto the Republican budget. The Democratic budget proposal would cut more than $31 million from the state's Clean Energy Fund.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT