August 6th Roundup: Goodbye Offshore Wind Caps

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– GreenWorks Heads to Senate, Advocates Hope for Swift Action: GreenWorks (H.3997) has left the building, or at least has left the House. Its prospects in the Senate remain less clear. Will the Senate boost its spending beyond the $1.325 billion the House proposed, like what happened with last session’s environmental bond bill? Will the Senate use it as a bargaining chip, holding it up until the House agrees to other Senate priorities? Or will the Senate opt to approve it rapidly and send the bill to the Governor’s desk, forcing him to make a decision?

Gabby Queenan, Policy Director for the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance (GreenWorks supporters), hopes “the Senate will move with the same swiftness and urgency as the House in moving this legislation [GreenWorks] this session.”

Other advocates went further, saying they want to see the Senate reconcile Greenworks and the Governor’s real-estate transfer fee bill (S.10), possibly even combining the two proposals. Among them, Emily Norton, the Executive Director of the Charles River Watershed Association. Norton says, “We are hoping to see the Senate strengthen it [GreenWorks] by adding a dedicated funding source, such as the real estate transfer fee proposed by Governor Baker. The Senate should also amend the bill to make it truly ambitious.”

Senate President Spilka’s office declined to comment on the Senate’s position at this time. The bill is now before the Senate Bonding Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Moore.

– Zero Energy Stretch Code Moves Out of Committee: A Senate bill targeting building emissions through an amendment to the building stretch code (S.1935) was favorably reported out of the Joint Energy Committee by Senate members last week. The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Gouveia (H.2865), has not yet moved out of committee.

Lexington Selectman Mark Sandeen, who testified for the bill in July, believes that “adopting a net-zero stretch energy code is the next step in enabling our residential and commercial buildings to achieve zero emissions.” Buildings currently account for up to 39% of carbon pollution in the state. The technology exists for buildings to become net zero, but according to Senate sponsor Senator Jo Comerford, “what’s needed is the political and legal imperative to make this happen. That’s what this bill does.” Her bill now heads to Senate Ways & Means for further review.

– “Gov. permanently hikes funding to CPA program” (Anita Fritz, Greenfield Recorder): “The governor has signed a budget that includes a permanent increase in funding for the Community Preservation Act, so member towns will get more money to preserve open spaces, renovate historic buildings and parks, and build playgrounds and athletic fields for residents to enjoy.”

– “Ehrlich: State Needs To Transition Off Natural Gas” (Daily Item Staff, “State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and national climate change advocacy groups, Mothers Out Front and HEET, on the heels of a major gas leak on Beacon Hill, on Monday called for Massachusetts to begin the transition from burning natural gas in homes to renewable energy.”

– “Massachusetts electric vehicle rebates would be revived under climate bill” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): “A Massachusetts electric vehicle rebate program slated to end in September could get a new shot at life. The state House of Representatives last week unanimously passed a wide-reaching climate change bill, including an amendment that would allocate $30 million to the electric vehicle incentives.”


– “State delays key review for Weymouth compressor station” (Jessica Trufant, The Patriot Ledger): “A state agency has further delayed its review of a proposed 7,700-horsepower compressor station, making it even less likely that the gas company will start construction on the project this year.”

– “Western Mass. Grocer Big Y Bans Plastic Bags In All Stores” (Bob Shaffer, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “On Thursday, the grocery chain Big Y will ban single-use plastic bags from checkout areas in all of its locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.”

– “Procession takes to Good Harbor Beach to “mourn” changing climate” (Caroline Enos, Gloucester Daily Times): “For some, the sight of a black-clad funeral procession carrying coffins and singing “Amazing Waste” on Good Harbor Beach on Sunday was a bit much. But for organizers of the “Extinction Rebellion Funeral for Good Harbor Beach and Atlantic Ocean: Mourning the Sixth Mass Extinction,” the day was a great opportunity to remind summer beachgoers what’s at stake when it come to climate change.”


– “Think it’s hot now? Just wait” by Yvonne Abraham, via the Boston Globe.

– “Our view: Renewed river focus” by the Salem News Editorial Board.

– “Letter: Take action locally on climate change” by Judy Eddy, via the Berkshire Eagle.


– “Transportation Climate Initiative Conversations Continue in Baltimore” (Jonah Kurman-Faber, Climate XChange): “On Tuesday, July 30th, hundreds of policymakers and stakeholders converged in Baltimore, MD to participate in the latest workshop on developing the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)….The breadth of expertise in the room also highlighted the dire need for new sources of revenue to achieve an ambitious vision.”


– Beacon Hill Resolve Issues with Offshore Wind Price Cap: Legislation designed to fix an unexpected issue for offshore wind in the state was signed by the Governor last week. The bill (H.4019) corrected a provision of the 2016 offshore wind statute requiring contracts for offshore wind to be less expensive than previous contracts (dubbed the “price cap” on Beacon Hill). This cap, already at the center of a legislative battle over the goals of the state’s offshore wind program, also did not anticipate the expiration of federal tax incentives. Offshore wind analysts say it is unlikely that subsequent offshore wind projects (after Vineyard Wind’s) would be less expensive than Vineyard Wind (because they can’t access this tax credit) therefore making them ineligible under the state’s current price cap.

“This could have spelled the end of the offshore wind industry in Massachusetts, said Eric Wilkinson, the Energy Policy Director for ELM, “Thankfully, Governor Baker and the legislature acted quickly to repeal this provision of the statute.”

– “Delay From Environmental Regulators Blows Vineyard Wind Off Course” (Bruce Gellerman, WBUR’s Earthwhile): “Construction of the $2.8 billion Vineyard Wind, the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm, is on hold as developers wait for an environmental impact statement from federal regulators.”


– “No permanent friends, no permanent enemies”: inside the Sunrise Movement’s plan to save humanity” (Ezra Klein, Vox): A conversation with Varshini Prakash, the co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, where she and Ezra Klein talk “about coming of age in the era of climate crisis”.

– “Obama energy chief Ernest Moniz to call for “Green Real Deal”” (Amy Harder, Axios): “Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Axios in an exclusive interview that he will call for a plan aimed at counterbalancing the Green New Deal.”


– “How Climate Change Could Trigger the Next Global Financial Crisis” (Robinson Meyer, the Atlantic): “A few years ago, Mark Carney, a former Goldman Sachs director who now leads the Bank of England, sounded a warning. Global warming, he said, could send the world economy spiraling into another 2008-like crisis…. Now, in an article this month in Foreign Policy, [Professor Adam] Tooze asserts that the Fed needs to battle climate change in the same way [as the 2008 recession].”

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