Democratic View: Boucher fails the environment

Toni Boucher, Republican state senator representing CT’s 26th district, which includes Ridgefield, earned a failing grade on her environmental scorecard from the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) in 2017. While she may have some appreciable past accomplishments, Sen. Boucher’s recent voting record does not reflect the interests and commonsense values of her constituents.

Boucher’s least defensible environmental vote is her “Yes” on legislation concerning the diversity of base load of the Millstone Nuclear Plant (parent company Dominion Power). Although SB-106 and SB-778 were defeated during the regular legislative session, the Millstone/Dominion legislation continued to be fought out with even less transparency during the “special session” that followed. Dominion Power threatened to close the Millstone plant if Connecticut did not provide access to specific ratepayer funds to subsidize its profitability, according to the 2017 CTLCV scorecard report. Boucher sided with Dominion Power over the needs of the State and Connecticut residents, and voted “Yes” on the new bill that emerged from the special session, SB 1501 (now Public Act 17-3).

SB 1501 is a little different from the original legislation but pushes the same thing — it would allow Millstone to compete for contracts in the same manner as renewable energy sources like wind, solar and hydropower. Millstone produces a large amount of nuclear waste and this was its attempt to classify nuclear power as clean, renewable energy. That classification will leave less for investments in truly clean, renewable, promising technologies that are rapidly expanding in our state. This will have a crippling effect on the solar power industry in our state, and by extension many jobs in that sustainable sector will be lost.

Boucher demonstrated her lack of leadership with her “Nay” vote on HB 7097 that would have permitted innovative electric vehicle makers to sell directly to consumers. By voting against this bill, she voted against legislation that would have encouraged continued growth in electric vehicle sales, expanded consumer choice and helped Connecticut cut pollution by getting more zero emission vehicles on the road. Encouraging the use of clean energy is especially important based on the recent revelation that the air in Fairfield County is among the most polluted in the country. That’s the conclusion of the American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report released April 18, 2018.

In light of the increased federal attacks on the environment, Sen. Boucher has not stepped up in the fight to protect our natural resources. Our community, our county and our state need leadership to restore Connecticut’s place as a frontrunner on environmental issues.

Will Haskell is challenging Boucher for the 26th District seat and has made addressing climate change a priority of his campaign. He will support legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions levels to align with our climate goals. As a stakeholder in Connecticut’s future, Haskell is committed to protecting the natural resources that make our state a wonderful place to live.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.