EDITORIAL: Is Gov. Lamont facing climate change?

EDITORIAL: Is Gov. Lamont facing climate change?

With Greenland melting, California’s annual fire season getting longer, and the threat of more powerful tropical storms increasing, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is saying the right things.

“The effects of climate change are impacting our air, water, health, natural resources, economic, and the quality of life of every current and future citizen of Connecticut,” he said during a recent climate forum in Hartford, as reported by The Connecticut Mirror. “We have an obligation to act now.”

But do his actions match his words?

What some of the forum attendees wanted to know was: Is the administration meeting that obligation?

Lamont issued an executive order directing the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to recommend strategies for a carbon-free energy grid by 2040, but representatives of the Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy of Connecticut wanted to know how the administration's embrace of new gas-fired power stations would lead to that goal. And they questioned Lamont’s “debt diet,” which limits funds for projects proposed to make the state more resilient to climate change.

The governor acknowledged that the state must work on several fronts at once: conserving energy and reducing greenhouse emissions while also preparing infrastructure to be resilient in the face of climate change.

But there are lots of pressing needs — highways, schools, the environment, local wants — which leaves Lamont in a corner, trying to perform a fiscal juggling act.

But politics, they say, is the art of the possible; and converting some power plants to natural gas is progress, if not a solution.

Much will depend, between now and 2040, on the trend that is making renewable energy sources cheaper, while the share of fossil fuels in our energy diet declines.

While it is hard to see how the governor can do much more right now, given the constraints he is under, he is right to keep the issue of climate change — and what this state is doing about it — front and center.