July 30th Roundup: This local tree is…live-tweeting?

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– Baker Unveils $18 Billion Transportation Bond Bill, Targets Climate Change: On Friday (July 26th) Governor Baker released a transportation bond bill (HD.4396) calling for $18 billion in new capital to “modernizing the transportation system” and “lessen roadway congestion.” According to a press release from the administration, “tackling the twin challenges of vehicular congestion and carbon emissions is at the heart of this bill.”

The bill also authorizes up to half the revenue from the forthcoming Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) “to be used to support public transit capital investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.” TCI is a regional, market-based cap-and-trade program currently being negotiated between Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including Massachusetts. TCI’s inclusion in this bond bill is a major signal from Governor Baker of his support for a regional approach to establishing a price on carbon emissions originating from transportation.

– 11th Hour Amendments Added to DeLeo’s GreenWorks Bill: Last Wednesday (July 24th) the House passed its final version of its $1.3 billion GreenWorks bond bill, a priority for Speaker DeLeo. Since first introduced in May the bill saw only a few, minor technical changes (highlighted here) but overall the structure did not change. But five amendments to the bill were approved on the House floor during GreenWork’s final House vote.

The most significant of which was from Representative Carolyn Dykemam, the House Vice-Chair of the joint energy committee, who succeeded in adding an additional $30 million in bond authorizations to GreenWorks. These bonds would be directed to the MORE-EV program, and fund rebates to purchasers of electric vehicles costing less than $40,000. The amendment helps close the MORE-EV program’s existing funding gap, which threatens to make EVs more expensive in the state.

– “Statehouse recess don’t sit well with climate activists” (Chris Lisinski, SHNS via the Herald News): “Dozens of activists slammed political leaders Monday over the state’s response to climate change, arguing that progress made so far is insufficient given the scale of the crisis. As most lawmakers prepare to take a month off during a traditional August recess, protesters with the Sunrise Movement rallied in the State House demanding faster action on “comprehensive” climate legislation.”

– “Mass. House OKs $1.3 Billion To Help Cities And Towns Confront Climate Change” (Colin A. Young, SHNS via WBUR’s Earthwhile): “The Massachusetts House crossed one of Speaker Robert DeLeo’s priority bills off its list Wednesday with the unanimous passage of a bill to establish a new grant program to help cities and towns confront climate change impacts and to borrow more than $1 billion to pay for it.”

– “Lawmakers hike assessment on utilities 50%” (Colin A. Young, SHNS via Commonwealth Magazine): “Though lawmakers left a handful of proposed taxes on the cutting room floor when they compromised on a budget, the fiscal year 2020 spending plan being reviewed by Gov. Charlie Baker includes a 50 percent increase in the annual assessment imposed upon gas and electric utility companies.”


– “Columbia Gas reaches $143 million settlement for Merrimack Valley explosions” (Associated Press, Via Boston.com): “A series of class action lawsuits stemming from the natural gas explosions in Massachusetts have been settled for $143 million, the utility blamed for the disaster and lawyers for the plaintiffs announced Monday.”

– “Environment Massachusetts honors Pittsfield for microgrid exploration” (Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle): “The 2.9-megawatt solar field, which launched in 2017, served as the backdrop for an event held by Environment Massachusetts. The organization praised Pittsfield for its work on a potential downtown microgrid.”

– “Clean energy report highlights Concord’s electric school bus program” (Rob Fucci, Wicked Local Concord): “Local leaders gathered Wednesday, July 24, to celebrate the inclusion of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Wayland, and Sudbury in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.”


– “Sorting through the 2020 candidates on climate” by the Boston Globe Editorial Board.

– “Letter: Carbon fee effort can be bipartisan” by Uli Nagel, via the Berkshire Eagle.

– “Editorial: It’s So Hot that Iceland Lost a Glacier” by Dave Eisenstadter, via the Valley Advocate.

– “The false promise of nuclear power” by Robert Jay Lifton and Naomi Oreskes, via the Boston Globe.

– “Letter: Urgency, hope about climate change” by Susan Olshuff, via The Berkshire Eagle.


– “At Cape planning summit, future is climate change” (Doug Fraser, Cape Cod Times): “With the rare occurrence of tornadoes touching down on Cape Cod still fresh in their minds, hundreds of local and regional planners, elected officials and town employees gathered Monday to discuss a future heavily influenced by climate change and to hear about ways to lessen the impact to the region’s environment and economy.”

– “Local winemakers trying to keep up with climate change challenges” (Bob Dumas, Boston 25 News): “Winemaking goes back to the earliest days of civilization, but climate change is presenting the industry with unprecedented challenges today. Local researchers are leading efforts to see how winemakers can still thrive in an uncertain environment.”

– “A Massachusetts Tree Is Live-Tweeting Its Perspective on Climate Change” (Jake Rossen, Mental Floss): “If you want to reach people, social media has become the way to do it. Which is why a Massachusetts oak tree is now live-tweeting its observations on everything from the weather to the color of its leaves.”

– “Summertime, And Toxic Algae Is Blooming: Here’s What You Need To Know” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “As of Thursday, the DPH has posted alerts for eight harmful algae blooms in the state, from Cape Cod to central Massachusetts. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe this summer.”


– “New carbon pricing bills introduced in Congress” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): “Just this week, we saw a great win for the carbon pricing movement here in the U.S., as Members of Congress in both chambers and political parties, introduced bills that put a price on pollution. This should send a powerful message to Todd and other commentators who have wrongfully dismissed carbon pricing as a viable option.”


– “Scientists say Vineyard Wind project poses little risk to endangered whales” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): “Marine scientists say concerns expressed by opponents of a Massachusetts offshore wind project overstate the potential risk to endangered North Atlantic right whales.”

– “Baker developing ‘cure plan’ for Vineyard Wind” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): “Gov. Charlie Baker said on Monday that his administration is working with Vineyard Wind to develop a “cure plan” to address the concerns of federal agencies as they review the offshore wind project’s environmental impact statement. Baker met Monday morning with officials at the Interior Department, including, according to his schedule, Secretary David Bernhardt…


– “Where 2020 Democrats Stand on Carbon Pricing [Updated]” (Tim Cronin, Climate XChange): Want to know where the 2020 canidates stand on carbon pricing? Which ones have a plan? Who opposes a price on carbon? The team over at Climate XChange updated its previous listing, just in time for the second round of 2020 Democratic debates.

– “Climate change’s partial 2020 breakthrough” (Ben Geman, Axios): “The climate plans and views of 2020 White House hopefuls will soon get much more TV coverage — but not yet the way that many activists want.”

– “Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Release Climate ‘Equity’ Plan” (Lisa Friedman, NY Times): “Senator Kamala Harris of California and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York on Monday unveiled legislation aimed at ensuring that climate change plans benefit low-income communities. They described the measure as a key element of the Democrats’ Green New Deal.”

– “How Jay Inslee would address environmental justice” (Gavin Bade, Politico): “Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday announced his plan to address environmental justice, aiming to correct decades of inequities that have seen low-income and minority populations disproportionately affected by air pollution, water contamination and other environmental issues. It’s the fifth climate-related announcement from the long-shot presidential candidate, who polls around 1 percent among likely Democratic primary voters.”


– “Eversource gives up on Northern Pass hydropower project” (Michael Casey, Associated Press via Portland Press Herald): “After nearly a decade of protests, hearings and court fights, the Northern Pass hydropower project that promised to bring hydropower from Canada to southern New England is dead.”


– “Europe’s Greens are on fire… and it’s not just because of the sweltering heat” by James Dennison, via the Guardian.

– “Don’t let vegetarian environmentalists shame you for eating meat. Science is on your side” by Bjorn Lomborg, via USA Today.

– “Coal isn’t coming back” by the Scranton Times-Tribune editorial.

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