On February 17, 2016, the Connecticut Power and Energy Society (CPES) hosted Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, the U.S. Representative for the 5th Congressional District of Connecticut. Congresswoman Esty offered her thoughts on a wide range of issues, including climate change, the Clean Power Plan, and the 2016 Presidential race. On the issue of climate change, Esty pointed to a deep divide in Congress, but said she is working with other Members to strengthen our resiliency to the impacts of climate change. From the east coast to the west coast, the impacts are clear, she said, and we must prepare for more frequent and extreme weather events.
She commended the state of Connecticut for its leadership role in climate change mitigation and renewable energy policy, particularly the efforts of Deputy Commissioner Katie Dykes. On November 18, 2015, Dykes testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Connecticut’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and other climate change mitigation programs, which, in her view, have been accompanied by consumer savings, economic growth, and reliable power. Congresswoman Esty assured attendees that Connecticut was smart to move ahead on RGGI and other complimentary policies relating to climate change and renewable energy development. Congresswoman Esty also commented on the recent extensions of the Production and Investment Tax Credits, policies favorable to wind and solar development in the U.S. She made clear that fuel cells were intended to be among the technologies eligible for these important tax credits and that she is working with House Speaker Paul Ryan to amend the legislation to include them.
Congresswoman Esty commented on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who days before his death joined a five-judge majority to stay the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule to reduce carbon pollution from fossil-fueled power plants. Esty paid homage to Scalia’s intellectual force and brilliant legal mind. She noted that President Obama is considering several names for nomination to fill the vacant seat, but was unsure whether the Senate would hold a confirmation hearing before his term expires.
Finally, Congresswoman Esty assured attendees that despite the volatility of an election year, she is committed to working across party lines to find common ground and “get things done” in Washington. She likened her approach to finding the overlapping space in a Venn diagram, stating that “this is the space I am trying to work in.” She is striving to make progress, she said, not headlines.