Christine Stuart photo

Connecticut environmentalists wanted to remind its Senators that it will have more than just health care reform to deal with as they return to Washington D.C.

Staying away from a controversial provision of the bill known as cap-and-trade, environmentalists gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday to ask U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which was passed by a slim margin in the House on June 26.

Nancy Pyne, a fellow with Environment Connecticut, said the bill will save Connecticut families $349 a year and create 8,900 jobs in the state.

Increasing energy efficiency is good for the environment and pocketbooks, Pyne said.

She said the findings released Wednesday were based on a report conducted by the American Council for Energy-Efficient America report. Click here to read about the report’s Connecticut findings.

Environmentalists encouraged its Senators to maximize the economic benefits to consumers by requiring utility companies to reduce their energy usage by at least 10 percent through incentives and assistance to help consumers make their homes and businesses more energy-efficient.

Meanwhile, as Congress continues the debate environmentalists encouraged the state to continue being a leader in this area.

After narrowly avoiding the budget axe this year, David Leishman, co-chairman of Northeast Energy Efficiency Council, and Charles Rothenberger, an attorney with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said the state needs to protect its Clean Energy Fund and Energy Efficiency Fund.

Rothenberger said the funds were only saved this year because the federal stimulus funds required a two-year commitment from the state. He said the worst thing that state could do would be to securitize these funds.

Even the mention that these funds may be a target makes businesses less likely to apply for them, Leishman said. He said the state shouldn’t be playing games with this money.