What are your top priorities for CLF’s work in Connecticut?
My passion is climate and energy work, so I’m really excited about the influence we can have on Connecticut’s climate and energy policies. Connecticut is among the states heading in the right direction for cutting its climate-damaging emissions. But we’re not on track right now to meet our legally mandated emissions goals, so there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. With the right policy changes, Connecticut stands a good chance of regaining its status as a leader in addressing climate change.
How are you establishing CLF’s presence in the state?
We work with a great network of advocates here, including grassroots and community-level groups, so it’s important that we add value to the efforts that others have spearheaded. Because CLF is a regional organization, I’m able to share how other New England states are addressing similar challenges to those we face here, and I think our partners appreciate that perspective. Also, there aren’t a lot of public interest attorneys who focus on environmental and energy advocacy in Connecticut. CLF’s legal expertise helps us carve out a unique role that adds value to the broader advocacy community.
You have a young family. How do your daughters impact the way you view this work?
When you can visualize the world that your own children will be living in years from now, it certainly makes climate change and its impacts more concrete. Of course, it’s readily apparent that climate change is affecting all of us right now, but we still see studies about just how much worse things might get if we don’t rapidly reduce emissions in line with the science.
Thinking about my daughters’ futures adds to that sense of urgency and makes it a lot more personal. They motivate me to go and do good work every day.
What do you like most about living in New England?
I grew up in California on the northern tip of Monterey Bay, where the climate is more Mediterranean. So, I love how lush and green New England is, and I love having seasons. Fall is my favorite time of year. Getting the chance to see all of this spectacular New England foliage is really wonderful. Also, our home is surrounded by woods, so we have wildlife, from wild turkeys and rabbits to chipmunks and deer. We had a mother deer and a fawn who visited all summer, which my daughters loved getting to see.
How can our Connecticut constituents help to move CLF’s work forward?
One important action is simply to talk about these issues – about protecting the environment, climate action, switching to clean energy. These might not be everyday topics of conversation for people who aren’t active in the advocacy space. But it’s great to bring them up at the dinner table and in conversations with friends, because we need to get them more into the public discourse. We need people thinking about these issues and really recognizing their importance.
It’s also so impactful when residents speak up to policy makers. During the legislative session, there are hearings where you can go testify on bills that the legislature is considering. Legislators expect advocates from CLF and other organizations to show up to testify, but they really sit up and take notice when residents take the time to share their thoughts on policies under consideration, whether that’s through written testimony or actually showing up at a hearing and testifying in person.