BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– GreenWorks Bill Hearing Expected Next Week: Speaker DeLeo’s $1.3 billion GreenWorks bill (H.3846) is expected to receive a public hearing before the Joint Energy Committee at 2:00pm on June 18th. Governor Baker’s proposed real estate transfer fee (S.10) is also expected a hearing on the same day, starting at 1:00pm before the Joint Revenue Committee.
– House Progressives Back 2050 Roadmap Bill: In a press release from the Mass House Progressive Caucus the group, consisting of about 5 dozen House lawmakers, announced three new legislative priorities for the coming session. Among them An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth (H.832), also known as the 2050 Roadmap bill, which was filed by Representative Meschino earlier this year. The caucus is expected to select additional bills to endorse this legislative session.
– “Advocates Push Bills Linking Environment And Social Justice In State House” (Kaitlyn Budion, SHNS via WBUR): “Environmental policy cannot move forward without addressing the social injustices absorbed by communities that have traditionally hosted major industrial operations, advocates said Wednesday… Environmental justice advocates are galvanizing around legislation (H 761/S 464 and H 826/S 453) that… emphasize constitutional rights to clean air and water and encourage stronger enforcement of state laws.”
– “Baker addresses pace of offshore wind development” (Colin Young, SHNS via Gloucester Times): “Poised to be the first state in the country to draw from utility-scale offshore wind power, Massachusetts has a responsibility to get it right and to position the offshore wind industry for long-term success dealing with climate change and delivering affordable power across the United States, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday morning.”
– “Baker calls for $2.43B in borrowing” (Christian Wade, SHNS via Salem News): “Gov. Charlie Baker wants to pour up to $2.43 billion over the next five years into infrastructure projects tied to transportation, housing and climate change resiliency…. It would divert $60 million to cities and towns for climate change adaptation and resiliency projects, including $12 million for seawall repairs and $4.2 million for dam rehabilitation.”
– “Mass. schools not ready for climate change, lawmakers say” (Mary Whitfill, the Patriot Ledger): “As a changing climate raises the possibility that students will be spending more hot days in the classroom before their summer break, a pair of local lawmakers are calling for a study of classroom temperatures and places where air conditioning and heating upgrades are needed in schools. State Rep. Joan Meschino, a Hull Democrat, and Sen. Patrick O’Connor, a Weymouth Republican, have co-sponsored a bill that would create a commission to study minimum and maximum allowable air temperatures in public school classrooms and facilities.”
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “State: New toxins data don’t change stance on Weymouth gas facility” (Chris Lisinski, SHNS via Commonwealth Magazine): “Despite conceding that a handful of samples showed concentrations of toxins above standard limits, state regulators believe a new batch of air-quality data does not change the conclusions that greenlit a controversial proposed natural gas compressor station.”
– “Hydro power is good, but safeguards needed” by Amy Boyd & Deborah Donovan, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “Fighting the good fight on the front lines of climate change” by Yvonne Abraham, via the Boston Globe.
– “Our view: DeLeo puts climate crisis in spotlight” by the Salem News editorial board.
– “Saving the Merrimack River — and the land beyond” by Christina Eckert, via the Boston Globe.
– “Letter: Democrats leading the way in attempt to slow climate change” by Lisa Mosczynski, via the Worcester Telegram.
– “Debunking the fracked gas fairy tale” by Emily Norton, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “A Peace Corps for Climate Change Is Among the Most Popular Green New Deal Policies” (Brian Kahn, Gizmodo): “Americans want to get to work saving the planet from catastrophic climate change. Presidential candidate Jay Inslee’s idea of forming a Climate Conservation Corps—akin to the Peace Corps and Americorps—is among the most popular climate policies associated with the Green New Deal. Polling results from Data for Progress first shared with Earther show that large swaths of Democratic and independent voters favor starting Inslee’s program, which he first described in a blog post last month.”
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– “Perfect port an elusive goal for East Coast offshore wind” (Andy Metzger, Commonwealth Magazine): “ Northeast seaports are inadequate to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry, and ideas for filling that gap could create tension between the sometimes competing goals of those overseeing the burgeoning sector… The need for more port infrastructure will no doubt spur competition between localities, but at the US Offshore Wind Conference in Boston where Geijerstam spoke on Monday, industry captains and government officials also extolled the benefits of regional collaboration.”
– “Bloomberg Commits $500M to Close All US Coal Plants by 2030, Halt New Natural Gas Plants” (Jeff St. John, GreenTech Media): “Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $500 million “Beyond Carbon” campaign on Friday, aimed at closing every U.S. coal-fired power plant by 2030 and halting the construction of any new natural gas plants. The new campaign will direct its funding toward environmental groups’ lobbying efforts in state legislatures, city councils and public utility commissions, as well as to elect local politicians with pro-clean energy policies, a Bloomberg spokesperson told The New York Times. The campaign expects to spend the $500 million in the next three years, although that time frame could be extended, the spokesperson said.”
– “New owner’s goal for Pittsfield’s waste-to-energy plant: expand its ‘economic life’”(Stephanie Zollshan, the Berkshire Eagle): “The new owner of Pittsfield’s waste-to-energy plant on Hubbard Avenue is planning no changes to the 38-year-old facility, and is interested in having one of the country’s oldest such facilities remain economically viable for a long time.”
– “New England’s Electric Power Grid Is Undergoing A Transformation” (Bruce Gellerman, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, says the region has a problem: “It’s really hard to be half pregnant, but we’re trying.” The problem: We’re creating a hybrid power grid, an electric-generating network that runs on a changing combination of fuels and technologies. He says the system is more complex and less predictable than the grid we had just a few years ago.”
– “Automakers fight Trump’s auto emissions rollback” (Timothy Cama, the Hill): “Major automakers are pushing the Trump administration to abandon its plan to roll back climate change rules for cars. Companies had emphatically encouraged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) to undo the Obama administration’s plans to ratchet up greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency rules for cars through 2026. But now they’re trying to stop the agencies from going too far in the other direction and freezing the standards in 2020.”
– “More U.S. businesses making changes in response to climate concerns” (Steven Mufson, Washington Post): “Many U.S. companies are taking note of the urgency of recent climate reports and are changing corporate policies. From carbon credits to eco-labeling to energy use, companies are responding to warming temperatures and consumer concerns.”
– “DNC chair says 2020 climate change debate is ‘not practical’ after being confronted by activists” (Justin Wise, the Hill): “Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez on Saturday said a presidential debate focused solely on climate change is not “practical” after a group of activists confronted him about the issue. “It’s just not practical,” Perez told the activists after delivering remarks at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue gala, according to The Tampa Bay Times. “And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.” The DNC last week informed Democratic presidential hopeful and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) that it would not host a debate focused entirely on climate change, which has emerged as a hot-button issue among candidates and voters.”
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– “Wheelabrator Millbury is cited as a top polluter, example of ‘environmental apartheid’”(Cyrus Moulton, Worcester Telegram & Gazette): “A new report criticizing the economics and health effects of municipal waste incinerators ranks Wheelabrator Millbury as one of the dirtiest such facilities in the country for two pollutants that contribute to respiratory problems… The report suggests that incinerators are increasingly a thing of the past in the United States. At least 31 municipal solid waste incinerators have closed since 2000 because of issues such as insufficient revenue or the inability to afford required upgrades, the report states. Moreover, only one such facility was built in the 2000s, in comparison with 45 facilities built in the 1980s, according to the report.”
– “Feds want sewage plant operators to clean up their acts” (Christian Wade, SHNS via Salem News): “Regulators are pressing the operators of three sewage treatment systems along the Merrimack River to reduce the bacteria flowing into the river and to issue more timely alerts when raw sewage discharges through aging outfall pipes… Environmentalists who monitor the river welcomed the tougher requirements, saying they will improve water quality and public awareness. The EPA will collect public comment on the draft agreements over the next 30 days.”
– “New England Is Losing Its Native Plants. Researchers Say It’s Time To Stop And Smell The Wildflowers” (Lexi Peery, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “A recent study finds that about one quarter of native New England wildflower species have been lost in the last 150 years. This means that purple-fringed orchids and pink lady slippers — once abundant in the region — are disappearing from some areas, often replaced by non-native species. Researchers worry that this loss of biodiversity may harm local ecosystems.”
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “After pause, Maine may have missed the boat on offshore wind” (Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald): “As Maine’s energy policy pivots 180 degrees under Gov. Janet Mills, a bill in the Legislature aims to reassert Maine’s role as a leader in offshore energy research and development. But Wilby and other experts say that after eight years of treading water during the LePage years, Maine has missed the boat – or at least risks watching the ship sail away for good if it doesn’t act quickly. That’s because the billions of dollars of pending investment in near-shore, shallow water wind farms on the East Coast is expected to be repeated within five to 10 years for deep water floating technology.”
– “The money at stake in the battle over CMP’s 145-mile electric line” (Josh Keefe, Bangor Daily News): “Central Maine Power Co.’s proposal to build a transmission line through western Maine has stirred up controversy on editorial pages, television airwaves, Facebook and the floor of the Maine Legislature. But the fight is about more than the swath of forest that would need to be cleared to build the line, which would bring hydroelectricity from Quebec to Massachusetts. It’s ultimately about the future of New England’s power supply: where it comes from, how clean it is and, perhaps most important for those in the fight, who profits off it.”
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Major union endorses Green New Deal” (Zack Budryk, the Hill): “The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Thursday endorsed the Green New Deal, putting it at odds with other unions that have been critical of the ambitious environmental agenda. SEIU’s International Executive Board passed a resolution in support of the sweeping environmental proposal at its board meeting in Minneapolis…. SEIU said it is the first national union to endorse the Green New Deal.”
– “Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean program chief to exit after probe” (Zack Colman, Politico): “The executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Florida-based Caribbean chapter became the latest executive of the giant environmental group to depart, in a sign that complaints about a toxic workplace culture have stretched far beyond its D.C.-area headquarters.” This follows the resignation of the Nature Conservancy’s President two weeks ago, and their CEO last week.
– “White House Tried to Stop Climate Science Testimony, Documents Show” (Lisa Friedman, the NY Times): “The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week, internal emails and documents show… in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email seen by The New York Times, was that the science did not match the Trump administration’s views.”
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
– “27 Women Leading The Charge To Protect Our Environment” (Véronique Hyland, Naomi Rougeau, & Julie Vadnal, Elle): “Scientists have called our current, climate change–threatened era the Anthropocene, but as the eco-economist Kate Raworth once joked, women are left out of the narrative so often that it sometimes feels like the Manthropocene. Presenting 27 standouts who prove that women are leading the charge to protect our environment and our future.”
– “Can Humanity’s History be the Solution for our Future?” by Maria Virginia Olano, via Climate XChange.
– “Biden’s domestic climate plan is good, but his global strategies are crucial” by Paul Bledsoe, via the Hill.
– “The problem with billionaires fighting climate change? The billionaires” by Kate Aronoff, via the Guardian.