DEEP: Commissioner Klee's Testimony Against the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan

EPA’s Proposal to Repeal the Clean Power Plan
Testimony of Robert J. Klee
Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
November 29, 2017
Delivered in Charleston, West Virginia
  • Good morning, I am Robert Klee, Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and I have come here today to testify strongly against EPA’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan. 
  • In October, I asked the EPA to hold at least one of the hearings on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan in Connecticut or elsewhere in EPA Region 1.  Sadly, I received notice that this would be the only public hearing. I once again request that hearings be held in additional locations.
  • With all due respect to those currently sitting before me and the people of West Virginia, EPA’s leadership and the Trump Administration have chosen to treat this public hearing process as a cruel joke, by holding the one and only hearing on the Clean Power Plan repeal in the heart of coal country.
  • Unfortunately for the people of Connecticut, the United States and the rest of the world, human-induced climate change is NOT a joke, and the scientists demonstrating that climate change is real and due to human activities are NOT fools.
  • We recognize that human-induced climate change is the most significant energy and environmental issue we face today.  AND, we also recognize that climate change is one of the greatest opportunities for reshaping, reenergizing, and transforming our economy to create the green jobs and green industries of the future.
  • Ignoring the information and data we can obtain through rigorous observation, measurement and analysis of the natural world around us is not a path to success – and it is certainly NOT the way to make our nation great again. Rather, it is a formula for disaster.
  • This is especially true when it comes to the issue of Climate Change.
  • The scientific method employed by a global network of literally thousands of respected scientists and researchers has established an “emergent truth” that human action is fundamentally altering the climate of the planet we live on – the only planet we have.
  • A consortium of scientists at leading national universities and academic institutions and the federal government’s own scientists – the best and brightest among 13 federal agencies –confirmed this “emergent truth” in their November 3, 2017 Climate Science Special Report, as part of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume 1.
  • This report “concludes, based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. For the warming over the last century, there is no convincing alternative explanation supported by the extent of the observational evidence.”
  • This report, along with the scientific consensus of the past two decades or more – is the basis for the EPA’s endangerment finding that greenhouse gasses threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. Under the U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA is required to properly regulate these pollutants.  Therefore, repealing the Clean Power Plan without a replacement plan is illegal.
Repeal of the Clean Power Plan will only delay federal action and make the impacts of cli-mate change worse in Connecticut.
  • Ignoring the facts won’t make the problem go away. It will only serve to make it worse, and delay the solutions we desperately need to meet this local, regional, national, and international challenge.
  • Connecticut is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. These impacts are directly harming the health and welfare of our residents and businesses, and causing significant economic damage.
  • My agency has been on Long Island Sound for decades collecting data on water temperature, water quality (e.g., oxygen, nutrients), and flora/fauna.
    • The bottom water temperatures in Long Island Sound have changed from 6 to 9 °C in the spring and 19 to 21 °C in the summer. Two or 3 degrees Celsius may not seem like much, but it may be the difference between having lobsters and not having lob-sters in Long Island Sound.  
    • The warming of Long Island Sound makes Connecticut look more like Maryland than Maine; a Mid-Atlantic fishery instead of a New England Fishery.
  • My agency has also worked closely with the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (“CIRCA”) at the University of Connecticut to learn more about coastal flooding caused by extreme weather and climate change.
    • CIRCA recently completed a projection of sea level rise on Long Island Sound by 2050.
    • CIRCA updated and localized NOAA data and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models to Connecticut, and concluded that Connecticut faces 50 cm of sea level rise on Long Island Sound by 2050 – or 1.8 feet.
    • CIRCA also concluded that the current 100 year flood levels on the eastern side of the Sound will occur every 12.5 years, and the current 100 year flood levels on the western side of the sound will occur every 25 years.
  • Heavy rainfall events, flooding, and hurricane activity have increased in frequency and intensity in recent years in Connecticut and are expected to continue to increase. 
  • Just last month, two back-to-back 4” rain events delivered all of the rain for the month of October in a matter of days, and left hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents without power.
  • The intense October 2017 rains brought back memories from not so long ago, when Connecticut and the region faced three once-in-a-decade storms in the matter of 16 months.
    • In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene left 800,000 Connecticut customers without power for up to nine days.
    • Only six weeks later, an October 2011 nor’easter – that hit as an intense and unusu-ally early snowstorm – took out power for 880,000 customers again for as much as a week.
    • And then in October 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit many of the areas still recovering from Irene and knocked out power for much of a week to more than 625,000 customers. 
  • According to our Department of Insurance, properties along the Connecticut coastline are collectively valued at over $570 billion and insurance companies paid nearly $1 billion for 200,000 covered claims as a result of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the October 2011 Nor’easter, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
  • In addition to this, the local utilities storm recovery costs totaled $462.3 million, of which rate-payers payed $414 million over a 6-year period.
  • The President and COO of Eversource, one of the utility companies said, “The damage from these natural disasters and the response to complete repairs was extraordinary and unlike anything in [Eversource] history. Typically, storms of this magnitude strike years or decades apart, but in 16 months, we experienced four of the company’s ten most devastating storms”
  • The need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert the most severe economic, environmental and human harm from climate change is clear – and this is why we take this issue deadly seriously in Connecticut.
Repeal without replacement is not the answer; there are cost-effective solutions.
  • I am not here today just to present the gloom and doom from climate change that will be made worse by federal inaction.
  • And I would be remiss if I did not present solutions that are cost effective, mitigate future risks of climate change and grow jobs using Connecticut as an example.
  • In Connecticut, we have proven that states can achieve significant, cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions while creating jobs and growing a clean energy economy.
  • Between 2005 and 2014, Connecticut reduced economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 18.5%, while increasing our state gross domestic product by 26% over the same time period. In Connecticut, electric sector emissions alone have been reduced by 33% since 2005.
  • The large emission reductions in the electric sector can be partly attributed to Connecticut’s participation in the path-breaking Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), the nation’s first interstate, carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program.
  • Collectively, the nine RGGI states have reduced electric sector carbon emissions over 45% since 2005 while the region’s per-capita GDP has continued to grow.
  • By reinvesting the proceeds from the auctioning of allowances, the RGGI model has built a compelling track record that carbon reductions go hand-in-hand with long-term energy bill sav-ings for all customers. Over their lifetime, RGGI proceed investments will save participants an estimated $2.3 billion on their energy bills, and avoid the use of over 9 million MWh of electricity.
  • In Connecticut, the reinvestment of RGGI auction proceeds has helped fund innovative, ground-breaking programs like the Connecticut Green Bank, which has partnered with private capital to deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy in Connecticut.
    • The CT Green Bank uses public money to leverage additional funding at an 8-to-1 ratio.  That means for every dollar of public ratepayer money, the CT Green Bank brings in $8 of private capital.
    • The CT Green Bank has sparked over $1 billion in investment in Connecticut’s clean energy economy over its six years of existence.
Repeal of the Clean Power Plan is wrong on science and policy, and is backwards-looking in-stead of embracing our clean energy future.
  • Connecticut has set a positive example through our individual accomplishments, but also by working together with other states in our region, which has been repeatedly recognized by experts as the most cost-effective way to reduce pollution while maintaining reliability.
  • Our successes clearly prove that electric sector greenhouse gas reductions are both feasible and cost-effective, and embrace innovation and new technology.
  • Science and technological innovation are at the heart of our nation’s story, resulting in amazing advances in medicine, industry, communications, transportation, and power generation. It is my hope that you will remember that innovation is what made our country great.
  • Rather than relying on outdated and polluting technologies, I invite you to join Connecticut – and a growing bipartisan coalition of cities, states, regions, and corporations – in first recognizing that climate change is a real threat to our lives, businesses, and environment, AND then embracing the fact that there are plenty of innovative, positive, and cost-effective things we can do about it, if we all act together, and with purpose.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.