Sept. 4th Roundup: The Inside Scoop On Beacon Hill’s Fall Climate Priorities


–  The Inside Scoop: What’s Gonna Pass In 2019: Back from August recess, state lawmakers are refocusing their efforts on multiple legislative priorities including a number of clean energy and climate change proposals. Interestingly, the timeline for some of these is unusually aggressive, with legislative leaders hoping to pass some climate bill before the end of 2019 (six months before the end of the session). 

Among them is House leadership, which is confident they can pass something on addressing climate adaptation before new years. “Yes, I believe we will see a climate bill become law before the end of 2019,” said Representative Michael Finn, Chair of the House Committee on Global Warming & Climate Change. Specifically Chair Finn sees hope for GreenWorks, a $1.3 billion bond bill favored by Speaker Deleo. Finn continued, “With the bill already passing in the House and with climate change being such a pressing issue for our state, I believe the Senate will take up this bill and vote on it before the end of the year.”

When asked for comment a spokeswoman for Speaker Deleo reiterated that GreenWorks (H.3997) is “a priority for the House this session,” citing unanimous bipartisan support for the bill from House members. But questions persist around what the Senate will do with the House’s GreenWorks bill.

Senate President Spilka’s office did not respond to multiple attempts for comment from the CXC Roundup, but a number of top policymakers in the Senate were willing to speak off-the-record on the matter. One individual, with close ties to Senate leadership, spoke of growing interest from Senators in moving forward a significant mitigation bill alongside any consideration of the House’s GreenWorks bill. This bill would likely support the Governor’s regional efforts to establish a price on carbon pollution and may include other clean energy proposals.

Another individual, also with close ties to Senate leadership, independently confirmed that support in the Senate is growing for an approach that focuses on mitigating carbon emissions. They continued that it’s unlikely that the Senate will pass a clean version of the House’s GreenWorks bill, citing its lack of provisions that deal with emissions on the scale necessary to deal with climate change.

– GreenWorks Isn’t the Only Bill Being Considered: A proposed statewide plastic bag ban, which has gained broad bipartisan support in recent years, is also on lawmaker’s radar. Despite this, a compromise bill released just before August’s recess drew ire from both sides and was largely seen as too weak by supporters. 

According to Representative Finn, another bill the House may focus on is the Energy SAVE Act (H.2832) filed by Representative Cutler which “is one bill that can help update water and energy efficiency in commercial and household appliances.” Last session the bill passed the House with unanimous support, but was struck from a compromise bill negotiated with the Senate.

Speaking off-the-record two House leaders noted the momentum surrounding Representative Meschino’s “2050 Roadmap” bill (H.832), one in House leadership and another a leading voice in the House Progressive Caucus. Both cited a near-unanimous endorsement from progressive House lawmakers earlier this year and the bill’s behind the scenes support among House leadership.

Two other bills have broad support from climate activists, as well as rank-and-file lawmakers. One is Representative Benson’s carbon pricing proposal (H.2810), which has been the focus of intense grassroots pressure from a local coalition this session. Another is Representative Decker’s bill (H.2836) which transitions the Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy by boosting the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

– “State Delays Review Of Proposed Natural Gas Compressor Station In Weymouth” (Chris Lisinski, SHNS via WBUR’s Earthwhile): “A key state agency’s decision on a controversial natural gas compressor station proposal in Weymouth will not come this week as anticipated following an agreement to delay the review process once again.”


– “Viewpoint: My trucks drive 5,500 miles a day, and I think we need a carbon price” by Gentle Giant’s Larry O’Toole, via the Boston Business Journal.

– “Elizabeth Warren: A climate plan that works for the most vulnerable” by Elizabeth Warren, via CNN Opinion.

– “Mass. lawmakers have let us down by lagging on ban of single-use plastic bags” by Tim shaw, via the Boston Globe.

– Local Reactions to Ferguson’s ‘Hit Piece’ on Greta Thunberg: Local reaction to a Globe op-ed entitled “Beware Greta Thunberg’s science fiction — the end of the world is not nigh” (by Niall Ferguson, via the Boston Globe) was unusually swift, with commentators on twitter slamming both the author and the Globe.

On twitter, Joe LaRusso said: “Once again the @BostonGlobe disserves the community by promoting false complacency around climate change. I half expect this to be followed by another pro-pipeline editorial.” Andrea Honore, an anti-compressor leader in Weymouth, tweeted: “What other tired trope’ll be used to prop up failing fossil fuel investments?”

– “The Amazon is on fire — indigenous rights can help put it out” by Naomi Klein, via the Boston Globe.

– “Letter: Carbon fees should be top issue” by Anna Gooding-Call, via the Salem News.


– “Denver Carbon Price Tabled in Favor of Resiliency Office” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): “Denver’s City Council has been pushing forward a much-needed pollution tax, priming the city to become a leader in the national carbon pricing conversation… Yesterday, August 26th, after pushback from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and a slew of business groups, Clark and the city council agreed to postpone the bills for further study for a possible 2020 ballot question.”


– “Martin Weitzman, Virtuoso Climate Change Economist, Dies at 77” (Sam Roberts, NY Times): “Martin Weitzman, an inventive economist who argued that governments would see climate change as a more urgent matter to address if they took more seriously the small but real risks of the most catastrophic of outcomes, died on Aug. 27 in Newton, Mass. He was 77.”


– “Report: Mass. solar sector absorbing job drain” (Michael P. Norton, SHNS via the Salem News): “Jobs in the solar energy industry in Massachusetts are declining despite efforts to ramp up renewable energy to meet legal climate change mandates, according to industry insiders who are calling for major changes in state laws to get the sector’s growth back on track.”

– “Can Solar Power Save Massachusetts’ Cranberry Bogs?” (Chaiel Schaffel, WGBH): “A state solar energy incentive program launched last November has a handful of Massachusetts cranberry farmers hoping for a new way to farm their fruit — and stay in the farming business].” 


– “CNN is giving 2020 Democrats 7 hours to talk about climate change” (Umair Irfan, Vox): “CNN will host a seven-hour marathon of interviews with 10 presidential candidates about climate change on Wednesday beginning at 5 pm Eastern as part of its climate crisis town hall.”

– “Elizabeth Warren Unveils Climate Change Plan, Embracing Jay Inslee’s Goals” (Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, NY Times): “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released an ambitious new climate change plan on Tuesday, embracing goals laid out by a former presidential rival and calling for $3 trillion in spending over a decade to combat human-driven global warming.”

– “Pete Buttigieg unveils $1.1 trillion climate change plan that would aim to create 3 million clean energy jobs” (Jordan McDonald, CNBC): “Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg’s climate change plan calls for net-zero emissions by 2050 and creating over 3 million jobs in the next decade… Buttigieg’s plan calls for investment in green technology R&D, as well as shoring up local communities from the effects of climate change.”

– “How Julián Castro would address climate change” (Gavin Blade, POLITICO): “Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro released his plan to fight climate change on Tuesday as he seeks to gain traction in a crowded Democratic primary field.”

– “Ahead of Climate Town Hall, Kamala Harris Releases $10 Trillion Plan” (Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, NY Times): “Senator Kamala Harris of California released an ambitious new climate change plan early Wednesday, calling for $10 trillion in spending over a decade to combat human-driven global warming and a new tax or fee on companies that emit greenhouse pollution.”


– “Wisconsin Aims to Fully Decarbonize Electricity by 2050” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): “On August 16th, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) signed an executive order calling for the state’s energy usage to be 100% carbon free by 2050, making Wisconsin the first state in the Midwest with a 100% clean electricity commitment. It follows in the footsteps of states like Washington, Hawaii, and California, which all have similar mandates.”

– “Lamont Wants To See More Clean Energy And Accountability In Connecticut” (Patrick Skahill, New England Public Radio): “Governor Ned Lamont signed the third executive order of his administration Tuesday, setting an ambitious environmental goal, a zero carbon energy grid by 2040.”


Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top climate headlines from last week:

  • New Study Shows Northeast Emissions Getting Higher
  • “Energy companies spending millions lobbying Beacon Hill”
  • “Markey in Framingham: ‘Catastrophic damage’ if climate change is ignored”

Read the August 27th, 2019 CXC Roundup here.