BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– GreenWorks Moving Fast Through Legislative Process: Continuing to navigate the complex legislative process at breakneck speed, Speaker DeLeo’s GreenWorks bill was reported favorably out of committee last week. The legislation, which seeks to spend $1.3 billion on climate adaptation and to boost local clean energy, was then given a new bill number (H.3941). The legislation was also changed by the energy committee to include new certifications for local sustainability managers and the explicit inclusion of nature-based solutions for climate adaptation. Greenworks is now before the House Bonding committee, where it will receive a public hearing this coming Monday (July 8th) at 11:00 AM in State House room B-2.
Learn more about GreenWorks, and what it means for climate action, here.
– Senate Energy Efficiency Bills Leave Committee: Last week Senate members of the legislature’s joint energy committee released four Senate bills related to energy efficiency and clean heating. The bills would establish building efficiency standards (S.2011), boost energy efficiency for low-income households (S.1942), establish new efficiency standards for everyday appliances (S.1986), and promote clean heating technology like heat pumps (S.1925).
“One of the first steps toward more ambitious policies, like 100% renewable energy, is to use energy more efficiently,” said Ben Hellerstein, Executive Director of Environment Massachusetts. “That’s why I’m thrilled that the Legislature’s energy committee approved four bills to reduce wasted energy last week.”
Most of the Senate bills had companion legislation in the House, which are still before the committee but have not yet been released by House leadership. Gaining support from the House has been a major barrier to success for past energy legislation. The bills now head to the Senate Ways & Means committee, where they will require a favorable recommendation to move ahead.
-Business Group Briefs Lawmakers on Coastal Climate Risks: Last Wednesday the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) officially released a report titled Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) while at the State House presenting to the Coastal Caucus. The report is the culmination of four years of engagement with over 900 businesses in 20 communities across Massachusetts. Among its findings: that over 80% of businesses were negatively impacted by storms and extreme weather in 2018.
– “Solar industry seeks lawmakers’ help” (Katie Lannan, SHNS via Wicked Local Boxborough): “Massachusetts has lost thousands of solar jobs in recent years — and challenges connecting to the grid represent an existential threat, according to industry officials who pressed lawmakers for access to solar energy generation.”
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Air Quality Permit For Weymouth Compressor Should Move Ahead, State Official Says” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “A proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth is a step closer to becoming reality. On Thursday an official with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) affirmed the department’s decision to grant an air permit for the project. Alice Arena, founder and president of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS), a local activist group fighting the compressor, says she feels “betrayed” by the decision.”
– “Air Pollution In Mass. Hits Asian Americans Hardest” (Lexi Peery, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Communities of color are disproportionately exposed to vehicular air pollution, according to a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The hardest hit are Asian Americans, who are exposed to 36% more small-particle air pollution than white residents. African American and Latino residents are exposed to 34% and 26% more air pollution than white residents, respectively.”
– “What The ‘Zero Waste Boston’ Plan Means For You (And Your Garbage)” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Boston businesses and residents generate about 1.2 million tons of waste every year, and about 75% of it ends up in incinerators or landfills. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants to cut that amount to 20% by 2035. On Wednesday, he announced his plan do it. Here’s what the mayor’s “Zero Waste Boston” plan means for you:”
– “Are We Cutting Down The Wrong Trees In Massachusetts?” (Craig LeMoult, WGBH): “When it comes to the growing threat of climate change, the shrinking rainforests of South America get a lot of attention. But one Boston-area scientist says we should also be looking closer to home.”
– “State should tweak price cap on offshore wind” by the Boston Globe Editorial Board.
– “Our View: Leadership needed on vehicle rebate program” by the Eagle Tribune Editorial Board.
– “As I See It: Massachusetts needs a new transportation finance plan” by Timothy P. Murray and Richard A. Dimino, via the Worcester Telegram.
– “Massachusetts can do so much more with solar” by Jim Boyle, via the Fall River Herald News.
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– “New England Coastal Waters Warming More Than Anywhere Else In U.S.” (Lexi Peery, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Waters off the coast of New England have warmed up more than any other coastal areas in the United States — up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901. That’s according to a new analysis of recently collected federal ocean data by the independent research nonprofit Climate Central.”
– “Farmers Are Losing Money, And It Might Be Because Of Climate Change” (Chaiel Schaffel, WGBH): “The aftermath of a cold, rainy May is delaying farmers’ crops and hurting their revenues. Early summer fruits and vegetables on many farms in the state have been delayed, sometimes by up to two weeks, causing a domino effect on the farms’ produce.”
– “Pull The Plugs: How A Simple Move May Help Plum Island’s Salt Marshes Adapt To Sea Level Rise” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Healthy saltwater marshes are also natural buffers against sea level rise. As the tide comes in and out, grasses trap sediment, allowing the peat underneath the grass to actually grow in elevation.” Learn about one local effort to save the marshes from sea level rise by undoing previous efforts to save the marsh.
– Mystic River Makes Grade on Water Quality: In a press release the Mystic River Watershed Association, in collaboration with the EPA, issued their latest clean water report card for the Mystic River and Mystic Lakes. This marks the 5th year in a row that the river and lakes earned scores in the A-range of possible grades. According to the release, “the report did not contain all good news. Many of the smaller rivers and tributaries that lead to the Lakes and to the main stem of the Mystic continue to receive poor grades.” For more info visit MyRWA’s website.
ITS THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– “Massachusetts regulators OK key contracts for proposed CMP hydropower project” (Lori Valigra, BDN via WGME): “The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has approved power purchase agreements that are key to the proposed $1 billion hydropower transmission line through western Maine.”
– “’Impact Investing’: Good For The Planet, Good For Profit?” (Meghna Chakrabarti & Hilary McQuilkin, WBUR’s On Point): “Foundations and pension funds are under pressure to do more “impact investing,” focusing not just on the bottom line, but also on doing good for people and the planet. But is it effective? If so, why isn’t impact investing catching on more?”
– “Where 2020 Democrats Stand on Carbon Pricing” (Tim Cronin, Climate XChange): Carbon pollution pricing has emerged as a cornerstone climate policy proposal in recent years, gaining traction in dozens of states across the country and in Congress. As we head into the first set of 2020 Democratic primary debates on June 26th and 27th, we’ve compiled the candidates’ stances on carbon pricing.
– “The Democrats May Have a Climate Debate After All” (Alexander C. Kaufmam, HuffPost via MotherJones): “The Democratic National Committee is considering a pair of resolutions on whether to host a debate of some kind devoted exclusively to climate change, amid mounting pressure from activists who want a spotlight put on the issue… The announcement is not quite the victory activists declared over the weekend.”
– “Here’s what the candidates said about climate change on opening night of the Democratic debate” (Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather): “Ten Democratic presidential candidates took to the stage inside the Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami Wednesday night for the first of two debates, kicking off the 2020 presidential debate season. The candidates tangled on a host of hot topics, which eventually, if only briefly, centered on climate change.”
PRICE THAT CARBON
– “Oregon governor ready to take lead on divisive climate plan” (Sarah Zimmerman, AP News): “Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Monday that she’s ready to use her executive power to lower carbon emissions following a nine-day Republican walkout that derailed landmark climate legislation and embroiled the state in a political crisis pitting liberal cities against rural residents. The Democratic governor said she wants to move forward through the executive branch if lawmakers can’t approve meaningful climate legislation.”
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “Understanding New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” (Mary Potts, Climate XChange): “New York state’s Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), heralded as “the most robust climate policy package” in the country by Senator Chuck Schumer, overcame its final hurdle of gaining support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last week, Gov. Cuomo, who had originally introduced his own plan that called for decarbonizing the electric sector and forming a council to study the issue of economy-wide decarbonization, struck a compromise with the legislature on the bill.”
– “Canada Signals a Willingness to Challenge Trump on His Clean-Car Rollback” (Coral Davenport, NY Times): “Canada has signaled a willingness to buck one of President Trump’s most significant environmental rollbacks — a major weakening of auto pollution standards — by signing a clean-car deal with California, the state leading the fight against the rollback…. Canada’s decision to publicly align itself with California and its climate-change policies inserts the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into a high-profile battle being waged over Mr. Trump’s weakening of rules designed to combat climate change.”
– “Climate change will be a decisive issue in 2020” by Diane Hessan, via the Boston Globe.
– “Democrats Still Don’t Know How to Talk About Climate Change” by Robinson Meyer, via the Atlantic.
– “While the government is in denial, the states are making staggering progress on renewable energy” by Tristan Edis, via the Guardian.