March 26th Roundup: Legislators, Businesses, and Enviros Back Carbon Price

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– President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo, the Ball is in Your Court (by Michael Green, via Climate XChange): “In separate speeches to prominent business groups this past month, as reported by the Boston Globe, the leaders of both chambers of the state legislature asked for private sector support in advancing bold policies to address a number of challenges facing the state. Transportation has risen to the top of this list, fueled by deteriorating infrastructure and growing public backlash….

As a policy, carbon pricing kills both birds with one stone. It boldly deals with climate change by reducing state carbon emissions to meet our legally binding climate goals. At the same time, it raises billions of dollars a year in revenue for local public transportation, and other necessary clean energy investments. According to an independent analysis conducted for the state’s Department of Energy Resources, a $40/ per ton carbon price in Massachusetts would also create nearly 12,000 new jobs and increase state economic output by over $600 million per year….

Local businesses have also supported the idea of putting a carbon price. A letter calling on legislative leaders to pass a carbon price this session has already been signed by 132 local business leaders in 52 Massachusetts cities and towns. Signatories include the owners of Waltham’s Spencer Organ Company, Wayland’s Longfellow Health Clubs, Watertown’s Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Beer, and others….

Last session’s ‘grand bargain’ on healthcare was made possible because lawmakers, business groups, and advocacy organizations formed a consensus around the need to act and legislative leaders brought them to the table to iron out the details. With carbon pricing, we’re already past the difficult work of agreeing on an approach…. Now it’s time for legislative leaders to put the pieces together. Speaker DeLeo and President Spilka have an opportunity to bring these groups to the table this session to tackle emissions and fix our crumbling transportation system through a carbon pricing. Now is the time to do it.”

– “Groups ask Baker to back off wood-burning initiatives” (Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle): “The state’s effort to jump-start a local wood-fuels industry is misguided, a coalition of environmental groups and scientists said Wednesday, and contributes to climate change despite being represented as renewable energy. In a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker, the groups call for an end to financial incentives to commercial projects that encourage wood-burning to produce heat or electricity. One such program recently steered $1 million to a wood-chip processing endeavor run by Windsor resident Tim Crane.”

– “Massachusetts bill would free local retirement systems to divest from fossil fuels” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): “The Massachusetts Legislature is considering measures that would clear the way for municipal and county retirement systems to pull out of fossil fuel investments. The proposals follow several defeated attempts to get the state system to divest.”


– “Markey airs Green New Deal in town hall at NHS” (Andy Castillo, Daily Hampshire Gazette): “On Sunday, Markey touted his vision alongside U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, a vocal supporter of the initiative, to a crowd of hundreds gathered in Northampton High School’s auditorium. During the two-hour-long town hall-style forum, dozens of audience members asked questions ranging from whether or not the proposal is feasible to the impact of green energy laws on family farming operations.”

– “Facing EPA lawsuit, Quincy says it spent at least $30 million on sewers” (Erin Tiernan, the Patriot Ledger): “By almost any standard, the quality of the waters around Quincy has improved dramatically since the days when gallons upon gallons of raw sewage was discharged daily into Boston Harbor from an overburdened treatment plant at Nut Island…. Despite the massive cleanup efforts, pollutants are still making their way into local waters, and federal environmental officials say Quincy has failed to do enough to stop the pollution. Last week, the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts sued Quincy, alleging it violated the Clean Water Act numerous times between 2009 and 2013 by releasing sewage and untreated wastewater into Boston Harbor, Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay and other public waterways.”

– “Citizen Advisory Panel Demands Answers From Pilgrim Nuclear Plant’s Prospective Buyer” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR): “Tensions flared at a public meeting Wednesday night in Plymouth about the decommissioning of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. With less than 75 days until the plant shuts down, residents had a lot of questions for Holtec International, the company trying to buy the plant. Among them: How much will Holtec pay the plant’s current owner, Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc., for the plant? What does Holtec plan to do with the 1,500 acres of land surrounding the site? And what happens if it runs out of money before it finishes decommissioning the plant?


– “Oregon close to finalizing cap-and-trade bill” (Sarah Zimmerman, the Associated Press): Oregon lawmakers on Monday unveiled a compromise proposal to a controversial cap-and-trade bill regulating greenhouse gas emissions, responding to overwhelming opposition from businesses and agricultural groups who worry the plan could put them out of work. If passed, Oregon would become the second state in the country after California to implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. Under the bill, the state would place an overall limit on emissions and then sell a set number of pollution permits or “allowances” to the highest bidder.”

– “Washington Lawmakers Aren’t Giving Up: New Carbon Pricing Proposal Gaining Traction” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): “Though Washington State voters have rejected carbon pricing proposals twice before, lawmakers haven’t given up on making the state the first in the nation to impose a direct fee on carbon pollution. A comprehensive transportation funding package that will impose a $15 per ton fee on carbon – and raise other taxes – is steadily moving through the Washington State Senate. On March 6th, the bills, sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs (D), passed through the Senate Transportation Committee with an 8-7 vote.”


– “US judge blocks oil, gas drilling over climate change” (Matthew Brown & Mead Gruver, Associated Press): “A judge blocked oil and gas drilling across almost 500 square miles (1,295 sq. kilometers) in Wyoming and said the U.S. government must consider climate change impacts more broadly as it leases huge swaths of public land for energy exploration. The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade — including one last month in Montana — that have faulted the U.S. for inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal land.”

– “EPA head says climate change threat ’50-75 years out’” (Zack Budryk, the Hill): “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler believes the threat posed by climate change is “50 to 75 years out” compared to more immediate issues like access to clean drinking water. Wheeler, who was confirmed to his position last month, told CBS’s Major Garrett in an interview that aired Wednesday that contaminated drinking water was a higher-priority, immediate environmental threat than climate change.”

– “Oil Execs Chortle Over ‘Unprecedented’ Access To Trump Officials In Secret Recording” (Mary Papenfuss, HuffPost): “Participants at a meeting of oil industry executives and lobbyists can be heard laughing uproariously at boasts related to “unprecedented access” to key Trump administration officials in a secretly recorded tape obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. The recording was made as some 100 executives of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) gathered at a hotel in Southern California in the summer of 2017 to celebrate their new federal clout. They also hailed the rise of one of their own: oil and gas lobbyist David Bernhardt, who had been picked by President Donald Trump for the No. 2 post at the Department of the Interior.”


– “Nevada legislators introduce 100% carbon-free bill, with provision to include all energy providers” (Catherine Morehouse, UtilityDive): “Nevada legislators introduced a bill on Monday that would double the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030, and require 100% carbon-free emissions by 2050…. SB 358 would ensure all electricity providers are treated the same under the RPS, including electric cooperatives and private energy providers, and clarify that renewables include existing hydropower. NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, told Utility Dive it supports the bill as it aims to add over 1 GW of renewables to its power supply, which will double the state’s renewable energy output by 2023.”


– “Green New Deal: Where the 2020 presidential candidates stand” (Rashaan Ayesh, Axios): “The Green New Deal resolution, introduced last month by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), is playing a major role in the 2020 White House contest by bringing climate change to the forefront of policy debates. The big picture: The plan would vastly broaden the federal government’s role in cutting emissions and economic intervention. The non-binding blueprint is intended to serve as a call to arms, rather than strict policy proposal, calling for a 10-year mobilization to get the country on a rapid path toward a 100% carbon-free power system and, more broadly, a decarbonized economy.”

– “Green New Deal Vote Sets Up Climate Change As Key 2020 Issue” (Susan Davis, NPR): “Senate Republicans will force a vote on the Green New Deal this week as part of an ongoing effort to turn the provocative climate change resolution into a wedge issue in the 2020 elections. Democrats say the GOP gambit carries its own political risk of mocking an issue that is a priority for a growing number of Americans.”


– “National Brands and Local Businesses Take Action on Sustainability as B Corps” (Kristin Kelleher, Climate XChange): “As Earth Day approaches, we want to celebrate businesses that are integrating societal and environmental priorities into their everyday sustainability practices. From CABA member businesses to large corporations, the private sector has become a leading force in climate action and incorporating climate pledges into their organization’s mission. B Corp certification standards are set by the nonprofit B Lab, and certification can be obtained by massive brands and small local businesses.”


– “Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA” (Nina Chestney, Reuters): “Global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a record high last year as energy demand and coal use increased, mainly in Asia, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday… The United States’ CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China’s emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India’s by 4.5 percent. Europe’s emissions fell by 1.3 percent and Japan’s fell for the fifth year running.”


– “Startup pitches lower-cost solar power, religiously” (Max Reyes, Boston Globe): “Resonant Energy’s office, located in the upstairs corner of an annex attached to the Second Church of Dorchester, is inconspicuous. There’s no sign informing passersby of the energy startup’s presence. The office itself is a modest two rooms appointed with scavenged furniture, much of which members of the now nine-strong team took pains to rehabilitate. But the handiwork of co-founders Isaac Baker and Ben Underwood is readily apparent on the southern face of the church’s roof, where solar panels bask in the sun. Resonant’s clients are nonprofits and people from middle- and low-income communities looking for affordable solar power. The startup has found a few ways to accommodate those sorts of clients.”

– “Massachusetts solar firm aims to pair capitalism with environmental justice”(Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): “A Massachusetts investment firm thinks it’s found a winning formula, investing in solar projects that benefit investors and underserved communities. Sunwealth is currently accepting investments in a portfolio of clean energy projects designed to help extend the benefits of solar power to people and institutions that might otherwise be shut out of the market.”


– “Bills On Tap At Mass. State House Target Lead In School Water” (Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press via WBUR): “Lawmakers on Beacon Hill are pushing legislation aimed at improving the safety of drinking water in schools in part by requiring schools and child care centers to test every drinking water outlet each year for elevated lead levels. Legislation on tap in the Massachusetts House and Senate would force schools to immediately shut off drinking water outlets that show elevated lead levels. The water outlet could be turned on only after it has produced at least two sets of certified test results showing no elevated lead levels.”


– “I predicted the Green New Deal’s 4 Million Jobs 20 years ago” by Marc Breslow, via Climate XChange.
– “How the Green New Deal Can Unify Rather than Divide Us” by Ken Kimmell, via the Union of Concerned Scientists.
– “Gov. Jay Inslee on climate change, tax policy and reparations” by Judy Woodruff, via the PBS Newshour.
– “17, and Leading Climate Action in New Mexico” by Tabatha Hirsch, via Climate XChange.

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