BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– Environmental Committee hears EJ, drilling bills today: The Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) is hearing testimony on 11 bills, including legislation that would ban offshore drilling for oil in any state waters and numerous proposals related to environmental justice. The hearing will be in Statehouse Room A-2 at 1 p.m.
– “Offshore drilling ban gets airing” (Christian M. Wade, Salem News): “Trump administration plans to encourage offshore oil and gas drilling are motivating attempts to exempt Massachusetts, and maybe foil the entire scheme. Lawmakers are weighing a ban on drilling for oil or gas in state waters, as well as a prohibition on the lease of state lands for oil or gas exploration, development or production.”
– “DeLeo sidestepping Baker on bonds” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): “House Speaker Robert Deleo is using a novel funding approach for his climate change legislation, authorizing the issuance of $1 billion in state general obligation bonds that would be exempt from controls set by the Baker administration… DeLeo’s bill would sidestep the caps, exempting the bonds for his climate initiatives from the limits typically enforced by the governor. The speaker’s approach also ensures that the bonds for his climate initiatives would not be pared back by the governor.”
– ICYMI: “4 Key Takeaways from DeLeo’s GreenWorks Bill” (Tim Cronin, Climate XChange): “Even if you’re not a climate wonk (like me) who has waited almost three months for the details of Speaker DeLeo’s $1.3 billion promise to cut carbon emissions, fortify infrastructure, and slash municipal climate costs, GreenWorks is important, and deserves an in depth look. My overall characterization of the bill’s impact on climate change: meh. Here’s why.”
– “Attorney General sued by group seeking records involving Michael Bloomberg, ExxonMobil” (Rick Sobey, Boston Herald): “Attorney General Maura Healey has been sued by a think tank to obtain records involving her global warming lawsuit against ExxonMobil and her office’s relationship with billionaire Michael Bloomberg. The law firm Government Accountability & Oversight P.C. and a local attorney filed suit on behalf of the nonprofit Energy Policy Advocates against Healey and Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin in Suffolk Superior Court Monday… Chris Horner of Government Accountability & Oversight has been supported by the fossil-fuel industry and has tried to discredit climate scientists, The New York Times reported. Energy Policy Advocates director Matt Hardin is former chairman of a group that questioned scientists on their climate-change stances.”
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Following Data Release, More Hearings Set For Weymouth Compressor Air Permit” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “A state official decided Thursday to reopen appeals hearings regarding an air permit for a controversial proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth. The decision comes after two tumultuous weeks in which the state Department of Environmental Protection released new air quality data showing higher carcinogen levels around the proposed site than previously reported, and then faced possible sanctions for the delay in releasing the data.”
– “Pilgrim ownership will determine path of nuclear plant’s future” (Christine Legere, the Cape Cod Times): “The decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station could stretch to 60 years if current owner, Entergy Nuclear Generation Co., handles the job, or it could be completed in only eight years if Holtec International succeeds in purchasing the plant. Either way, the first steps remain the same.”
– “Pilgrim closure could drive up carbon emissions” (Christian M. Wadem, the Eagle-Tribune): “The pending closure of the Pilgrim power plant will lead to an uptick in regional carbon emissions, according to environmental groups, who say the shutdown of the state’s only nuclear plant increases the urgency to move toward wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. The 47-year-old Plymouth facility will stop generating electricity on May 31. Entergy Corp. announced in 2015 that the problem-plagued facility is no longer financially viable amid falling revenues, increased costs and a difficult energy market.”
– “Carbon pricing needed to address climate change” by W. Bart Lloyd, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “Solution needs help from Columbia Gas” by Lilly Lombard, via the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
– “A Green New Deal of action in Massachusetts” by Jack Clarke, via the Berkshire Eagle.
– “Now what? We can’t blame our way out of climate change” (Maria Virginia Olano, Climate XChange): “For the past few months, I have had the chance to speak with impressive and inspiring people, all of whom think about these issues on a daily basis. It was important for me to not simply speak with them about their work and their knowledge, but to get to know a bit more intimately the things that move and inspire them. For the last episode of this season, I switched seats in our recording studio to be the interviewee and chat with Michael Green, Executive Director of Climate XChange about takeaways, lessons learned, and some reflections on the season.”
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– “Mass. to double offshore wind procurements” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): “The Baker Administration is pushing ahead with plans to double the procurement of offshore wind power over the next several years, a move that will increase wind’s share of the state’s energy portfolio to 30 percent while locking Massachusetts into long-term contracts for nearly two thirds of its electricity… The report released on Friday concludes it makes sense to do procurements for the additional 1,600 megawatts in 2022, 2024, and again in 2026 if necessary. The report also recommends conducting a solicitation in 2020 to see if it would make sense to construct an independently built transmission line that would serve all of the new wind farms.”
Read the full offshore wind study from the DOER here.
– “Massachusetts Millennials Lead The Way Toward A Renewable Future” (Callie Crossley, WGBH’s Under The Radar Staff): “In the last year, teenagers around the world have captured headlines with their urgent advocacy in the streets. But the slightly older millennial generation is also coming into its own power, driving a climate revolution as business owners and elected officials. Here in Massachusetts, a group of the state’s most influential millennials is now the heart of a campaign to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.” Guests include Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Ben Hellerstein, and Cofounder of Bootstrap Compost Igor Kharitonenkov.
– “In future Mass bids, offshore wind could be forced to compete with other green energy” (Jennette Barnes, South Coast Today): “The next time Massachusetts goes out to bid for renewable energy, offshore wind could have some serious competition… Patrick Woodcock, undersecretary of energy, said the offshore wind market has matured enough to compete with other industries. At the same time, the number of companies that hold federal leases on locations for offshore wind remains relatively small.”
– “Where 2020 Democrats stand on Climate change” (John Muyskens and Kevin Uhrmacher, the Washington Post): “Climate change has emerged as a key issue in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Candidates frequently discuss climate change on the campaign trail and often face questions from the audience on how they will address the issue… Here’s where 2020 candidates stand on issues related to climate change, based on candidate statements, voting records and answers to a questionnaire we sent every campaign.”
– “Joe Biden’s $5 trillion climate plan: Net zero emissions by 2050” (Bill Barrow, Associated Press via Chicago Tribune): “Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is pitching a $5 trillion-plus climate proposal that he says would lead the U.S. to net zero emission of carbon pollution by 2050. Biden’s plan calls for $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, with the rest of the investments coming from the private sector. Biden, who discusses the plan in a video posted online , proposes covering the taxpayer costs by repealing the corporate tax cuts that President Donald Trump signed in 2017, while eliminating existing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.”
– “Elizabeth Warren Adds $2 Trillion And A Green Marshall Plan To Climate Vision” (Alexander C. Kaufman, HuffPost): “On Tuesday, the Warren campaign released its most comprehensive climate plan yet, a $2 trillion package that commits the federal government to spend $150 billion a year over the next decade on low-carbon technology, increases energy research funding tenfold and funds a $100 billion Green Marshall Plan to aid the poorer countries projected to suffer the worst as global temperatures rise. In modeling her proposals on the post-World War II Marshall Plan aid package that helped rebuild Western Europe, Warren takes stock of the global nature of the crisis.”
– “Biden Nearly Flunks Climate Change on Greenpeace Report Card” (Ari Natter, Bloomberg): “Joe Biden got a D-minus on a climate change report card ranking Democratic presidential candidates released Thursday by the liberal environmental group Greenpeace. Biden, the Democratic front runner, has yet to release a detailed plan on how he will combat climate change. But the scorecard evaluated 19 candidates on their commitments to ending the use of fossil fuels and support for environmental policies based on statements, legislative records and published plans. Some candidates also responded to a 29-question survey from the environmental group.”
PRICE THAT CARBON
– “75 Business Leaders Lobbied Congress for Carbon Pricing. Did Republicans Listen?” (Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News): “An epic quest loomed Wednesday before the largest gathering of business leaders in a decade to advocate for climate action on Capitol Hill. Could they find a single Republican in the U.S. Senate to take up the cause of carbon pricing? The answer appeared to be: “Not yet.””
TRANSIT EMISSIONS MATTER
– “Investigating the Impact of Congestion Pricing Around the World” (Hannah Parks, Climate XChange): “It’s not just our time that takes a hit from traffic. Carbon and local pollutant emissions also rise due to heavy traffic. These emissions have been linked to climate change, but also to local health effects like asthma and cancer. This means that it’s not just people behind the wheel who are dealing with the consequences of traffic, but also those living around highways or highly congested roadways.”
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– “In the Great Marsh and other coastal wetlands, climate change is harming delicate ecosystems” (David Abel, Boston Globe): “Wetlands such as these are also crucial buffers against the damaging effects of rising sea levels from climate change. Yet the very forces unleashed by global warming are pounding away at the Great Marsh and other saltwater wetlands: higher tides — more than 8 inches here over the past century — and a 20 percent increase in precipitation over roughly the same period. Fueled by more powerful storms, such as the succession of nor’easters that pummeled the region in recent winters, rising tides have intensified coastal erosion and threatened beachside properties.”
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Nature Conservancy president resigns in wake of sexual harassment probe” (Zack Colman, Politico): “Nature Conservancy President Brian McPeek resigned Friday, just days after the group completed an investigation into sexual harassment and workplace misconduct at the world’s largest environmental organization. The news came two days after POLITICO first reported on the internal investigation at the group, which reported $1.3 billion in revenues last year and has long drawn support from both Democrats and Republicans.”
– “Trump Administration Rebrands Fossil Fuels As “Molecules Of U.S. Freedom”” (James Ellsmoor, Forbes): “The United States Department of Energy (DOE) has apparently started referring to fossil fuels as “molecules of freedom” and specifically natural gas as “freedom gas” , according to its latest press release… The language has been met with widespread criticism, with Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington running for the Democratic presidential nomination with an emphasis on climate change saying: “This has to be a joke.””
– “Sierra Club says it will commit resources to help 100 candidates next year” (Rebecca Beitsch, the Hill): “The Sierra Club on Thursday said it plans to have staff and volunteers back the efforts of 100 yet-to-be-selected campaigns across the country, making it the latest green group to commit significant resources to help elect candidates who vow to take action on climate change.”
– “Cato closes its climate shop; Pat Michaels is out” (Scott Waldman, E&E News): “The Cato Institute quietly shut down a program that for years sought to raise uncertainty about climate science, leaving the libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch without an office dedicated to global warming. The move came after Pat Michaels, a climate scientist who rejects mainstream researchers’ concerns about rising temperatures, left Cato earlier this year amid disagreements with officials in the organization.”
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
– “Al Gore Tells Harvard Graduating Seniors Their Alma Mater Should Divest From Fossil Fuels” (Chaiel Schaffel and Craig LeMoult, WGBH): “Former Vice President Al Gore criticized Harvard University, his alma mater, on Wednesday for its failure to divest from the fossil fuel industry… Harvard divested from South African companies and those doing business with the country, as well as from tobacco companies. The university also divested from companies working in Darfur. Gore, who graduated from Harvard in 1969, said fossil fuel companies have adopted the same strategy as the tobacco industry, “designed to spread doubt and confusion.””
– “U.S. carbon emissions are on the rise” (Ben Geman, Axios): “Economy-wide U.S. greenhouse gas emissions grew by between 1.5% to 2.5% in 2018, according to a just-published estimate from the Rhodium Group consultancy. Why it matters: The data underscores how the U.S. is off-track for meeting its pledge under the Paris climate agreement, which is to cut these emissions by 26%–28% below 2005 levels by 2025.”
– “Gen Z. Leading the Charge on Climate Justice – Here’s How” (Haley Rosenthal, Climate XChange): “As we work towards transitioning to a low-carbon future, issues of equity, justice, and inclusion need to be at the center of the conversation to ensure new systems do not perpetuate inequities of the past. Below we explore how the next generation of climate leaders are addressing equity in the policies they advocate for.”
– “Climate change is one of the hottest issues. So why isn’t it working for Jay Inslee?” by Danny Westneat, via Seattle Times.
– “Democrats should pay attention to Europe’s ‘green wave’” by Jiore Craig, via The Hill.
– “To Make Headway on Climate Change, Let’s Change the Subject” by Justin Gillis, the New York Times.