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Connecticut Considers New Bill to Make Fossil Fuel Polluters Pay for Soaring Climate Costs and Insurance Premiums Borne by Communities

Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies, made a record breaking $55.5 billion dollars in 2022 profits as the climate crisis devastated communities.

Hartford, CT – The Connecticut Insurance and Real Estate committee held a hearing last Thursday on S.B. 1115, An Act Establishing a Surcharge on Insurance Companies in this State that Underwrite Fossil Fuel Companies. This bill aims to help struggling homeowners with rising insurance premiums and reinvest in environmental justice communities who have dealt with increasing health risks and property damage due to racist policies such as redlining. 

The bill requires insurance companies that support the industries that fuel climate change to pay their fair share of Connecticut’s climate mitigation and resiliency costs by establishing a surcharge on insurance companies operating in Connecticut that continue to underwrite fossil fuel companies and fossil fuel projects. It splits proceeds from the surcharge between the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s Climate Resilience Fund and a  Connecticut Insurance Department Premium Assistance program to help middle and low-income communities struggling to afford rising insurance premiums.

Climate activists and policy advocates from both state-based and national organizations, including Sierra Club Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and Public Citizen, testified in strong support of the bill. Written testimony was also submitted by the Climate Finance Director of the Chisholm Legacy Project and the CEO of Bluestone Life

Carly Fabian, Policy Advocate at Public Citizen stated in her testimony:

Carly Fabian

Policy Advocate at Public Citizen

“As the committee considers testimony from the industry, it should remember that these same associations were grievously concerned about the law on climate risk guidance before it passed. In fact, when this already enacted law was mistakenly presented as a new bill earlier this month, the industry did not hesitate to cry wolf about the risk and burden.”

Tom Swan, Executive Director of CT Citizen Action Group did not hold back when calling out the industry’s responsibility for climate change.

Tom Swan

Executive Director of CT Citizen Action Group

“Through their underwriting and investment policies insurers place a much larger role in fomenting climate change than is recognized. The claims by the insurance industry that they are addressing climate change is like tobacco companies saying they care about peoples’ health.”

Not everyone in the insurance industry disagrees. “I have been in the insurance industry for 30 years and support SB01115.”  Nathan Irons, CEO of Bluestone Life stated.

Nathan Irons

CEO of Bluestone Life

“I have been in the insurance industry for 30 years and support SB01115. The science is clear that extracting and burning fossil fuels is extraordinarily damaging to our environment, and in the end costs society far more that this small five per cent of the sum of each insurance company's total premium amount received from fossil fuel companies. It is critical that we accelerate the transition to more efficient and renewable sources of energy and this is one small step to assist in this process.”

Samantha Dynowski

State Director of Sierra Club

“The cost of mitigating, adapting to and responding to climate change is significant and will continue to grow. Insurers need to do more to address their fossil fuel underwriting and the impacts that these projects are having on communities. Sierra Club and others in Connecticut, in collaboration with the national Insure Our Future coalition, is urging insurers to stop insuring any new fossil fuel projects and phase out existing fossil fuel insurance in alignment with keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Additional Resources

Testimony from Carly Fabian, Policy Advocate at Public Citizen

Testimony from Nathan Irons, CEO of Bluestone Life

Testimony from Samantha Dynowski, State Director of Sierra Club

Press contacts:

Helen Humphreys, CT Citizen Action Group

Kalin Jordan, Insure Our Future

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