Aug. 20th Roundup: Will Kennedy–Markey Primary Divide Climate Activists?

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– Will A Kennedy-Markey Primary Divide Environmental Community? Probably Not: It seems like everyone in state politics has lost their minds since local Politico reporter Stephanie Murray first broke the possibility of a primary challenge of incumbent US Senator Ed Markey by rising Democratic star Congressman Joe Kennedy III. If such a challenge does materialize it will no doubt cause rifts and test loyalties among local Democrats. But despite that, some climate activists appear to have circled the wagons around Markey.

Among those coming out for Markey is Executive Director of the Better Future Project Craig Altemose, a well-known climate activists in the state. In a Sunday tweet, Altemose said, “I like @RepJoeKennedy well enough, but @SenMarkey has stood tall and proud for #ClimateAction and the #GreenNewDeal.” Yesterday Altemose went further, saying “If @JoeKennedy challenges @SenMarkey, that would be a hostile act to the #GreenNewDeal.”

Long considered an environmental champion, Markey first gained climate action notoriety with the introduction of a national cap-and-trade bill in 2009 (known as “Waxman-Markey”). Most recently he joined NYC Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in proposing the Green New Deal, becoming its primary sponsor in the Senate. Given this history, it’s unlikely that Kennedy would be able to outflank Markey on climate change.

– Benson Carbon Pricing Bill Earns First GOP Supporter in State Legislature: Late last week State Representative Matt Muratore, a Plymouth Republican, published an op-ed in the Patriot Ledger in which he signaled support for a carbon pricing proposal filed by Rep Benson. “To me the science is clear: Something needs to be done to combat climate change in the commonwealth. I am open to considering any bill that does that, ” said Muratore.

He continues, “specifically we need to reduce emissions in transportation and our heating sectors, which collectively account for 69 percent of the state’s carbon emissions.” He goes on to discuss Rep Benson’s carbon pricing proposal (H.2810) which devotes 30% of total revenue (up to $600m a year) to a new Green Infrastructure Fund.

Both H.2810 and a similar bill from Senator Barrett have not yet received a public hearing on Beacon Hill. Governor Baker is supportive of a carbon price and is currently exploring the possibility of a regional cap-and-trade program. Read the full op-ed from Muratore here.

– “Massachusetts plastic bag ban is now tied up in Beacon Hill” (Janelle Nanos, Boston Globe): “As more and more cities across the state and country prohibit plastic shopping bags, a statewide ban came closer to reality last month. There’s just one major problem: Some of the most adamant supporters of efforts to enact a ban say they can’t support the bill… A coalition of environmental, retail, and municipal groups had worked with lawmakers to draft legislation with two key components: banning single-use plastic bags statewide and requiring a fee on all paper bags used during checkout… Now that coalition says the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee’s closed-door dealings weakened the proposal to the point where it may do more harm than good.”

– “Massachusetts bill aims to reduce traffic congestion, but will it help climate?” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): “An $18 billion transportation bill filed last month in Massachusetts includes some encouraging nods to the importance of reducing car travel and cutting carbon emissions, but local activists say it is too soon to call the proposal a climate win.”


– “Can The Cape’s Tourism Industry Survive Tornadoes?” (Kristin Kelleher, CABA): “Three separate tornado cells touched down in the region, impacting “seven Cape communities, leaving over 30,000 businesses and private residences without power during the height of its summer season.”… Most often, it is the small community businesses, like inns and boutique hotels, that are the most impacted by such events, and the least prepared to bounce back after them.”

– “‘Nip’ ban having an impact in Chelsea” (Sarah Betancourt, Commonwealth Magazine): “Chelsea’s ban on “nip” liquor bottles – the only one of its kind in the state — appears to be having the desired effect. In the year since the city banned sale of the tiny 50-ml bottles of hard liquor, public drunkenness has diminished, alcohol-related ambulance responses are way down, and there has been a reduction in the number of people taken into protective custody for alcohol intoxication.”

– “Northampton City Council backs Green New Deal” (Bera Dunau, Daily Hampshire Gazette): “The City Council passed a youth-powered resolution on first reading at its Thursday meeting calling on the federal government to pass a Green New Deal… the resolution passed 7-0.”

– “NRC Staff Recommends Sale Of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Federal regulators plan to approve the sale of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to New Jersey-based Holtec International. The company has never fully decommissioned a nuclear plant before, and proposes to complete the process in eight years.”

– “Climate change could hurt scallop industry: City officials worry as Markey talks Green New Deal” (Kiernan Dunlop, SouthCoast Today): “Markey came to the Whaling City to hold a town hall on his Green New Deal Resolution… Local legislators attended the town hall and focused on how the SouthCoast, and New Bedford in particular, are already experiencing the effects of climate change.”


– “Protective steps, while important, are not same as slowing global warming” by Adam Auster, via the Boston Globe.

– “We have to be caretakers of this planet’s inhabitants” by Kenneth Stampfer, via the Boston Globe.

– “Letter: State’s rivers must be protected” by Emily Kibbe, via the Gloucester Daily Times.


– “Water quality woes are common at Mass. beaches, new report says” (Chris Lisinski, SHNS via Boston Globe): “Water at more than 200 Massachusetts beaches tested positive for potentially hazardous levels of bacteria last year, environmental advocates announced Tuesday, prompting calls for new regulations to better manage sewer systems.”

– “As protesters, loggers clash at Wendell State Forest, Department of Conservation and Recreation officials ‘refuse to meet or speak,’ to protesters” (Douglas Hook, MassLive): Read about the ongoing struggle between local supporters of the Wendell State Forest, loggers determined to cut parts down, and the State Troopers called in to arrest protesters regularly. Just yesterday protesters opened up a new front in their battle to save the forest with a new lawsuit directed at the state.

– “Bumblebees proposed for endangered species status in Massachusetts” (Michael P. Norton, SHNS via Worcester Telegram): “Things are looking brighter for the bald eagle and peregrine falcon in Massachusetts, but a certain well-known bee is poised to officially become endangered.”


– “It’s raining carbon pricing bills on Capitol Hill: a comparative look” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): “Since the 116th Congress began in January, seven carbon pricing bills have been introduced at the federal level, four of them in the last month. Some of these bills will do a better job at effectively and equitably reducing emissions than others, but all are important in promoting a much-needed dialogue around carbon pricing on Capitol Hill.” Compare all seven bills, and their impacts, here.

– “It’s Ideology, Stupid – Why Voters Still Shun Carbon Taxes” (repost by Climate XChange Editorial Team): In original research published by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy on August 2019, three researchers look at what is needed to ensure passage of carbon pricing initiatives through state referendums. Hint: “Appealing to a broad progressive coalition may be the most effective path to a carbon tax in other liberal states.”


– “An Ill Wind Blows For Vineyard Wind” (Bruce Gellerman, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “With the fate of Vineyard Wind project delayed last week by federal regulators, a coalition of Cape Cod business, religious, environmental and labor groups announced their support Thursday for the nation’s first commercial-size offshore wind energy project.”


– “Massachusetts Among 22 States Suing Trump Administration Over New Coal Rules” (Katie Johnston, CBS Boston): “A coalition of 22 Democratic-led states, including Massachusetts, sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its decision to ease restrictions on coal-fired power plants. Attorney General Maura Healey is among those calling the move “illegal and dangerous.”


– “Environmental groups push Dems to tank USMCA over climate change” (Zoe Watkins, POLITICO): “Environmental groups are pushing Democratic lawmakers to withhold their support for the USMCA trade deal without new provisions tackling climate change… Environmental organizations say the deal represents one of the few points of leverage for lawmakers to force the Trump administration to focus on climate change and bring along the rest of the world.”

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