Nov. 20th Roundup: Hope for 2019 bag ban floating away

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– Senate, House Process Disagreement Endangers Bag Ban Bill in 2019: On Monday, the State Senate released a bill to ban single-use carry-out plastic bags in retail stores across Massachusetts. According to WHDH, “The bill would require retailers to charge at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag at check out and return five cents of the amount collected from the sale of paper bags go back to the city or town for enforcement of the ban, as well as for other municipal recycling efforts.” The Senate’s release of the bill sets up a vote today (11/20) on the bag ban, the last day of the formal session. But in comments to the SHNS on Tuesday, House chair of the environment committee, Rep. Pignatelli, accused the Senate of setting a “dangerous precedent” in the way they advanced the bag ban (amending an existing bill, instead of advancing the original bag ban bill). Despite using a different vehicle to deliver the bill, the Senate did not substantially change the actual language of what they are proposing. A House version of the bag ban, currently before House Ways & Means, does not include a mandatory 10 cents fee. This process disagreement may be enough to delay a House vote on a bag ban until next year, when the full legislature reconvenes in January 2020.

– “Pacheco: Spilka Agrees to Climate Bill Vote in January” (Katie Lannan, State House News Service): “After pressing his colleagues for weeks to take up a climate bill before breaking for their next recess — and suggesting he’d use a procedural measure to bring one to the floor if he needed to — Sen. Marc Pacheco on Thursday said he’d secured a commitment from Senate President Karen Spilka that a vote would happen in January.”

– Legislative Divestment Hearing Draws Diverse Supporters: A bill (H.3662/S.636), championed by MassDivest, takes a different tactical approach to divest the state’s pension system from fossil fuels. Instead of requiring the state’s pension system to divest, the bill gives the state’s 104 independent retirement systems the flexibility to choose whether or not they want to divest. Among those who testified included Somerville Mayor Curtatone, the President of the Mass Teachers Association, President of SEIU 509, the former Comptroller of New York, Cambridge City Councilor Quinton Zondervan, & Elizabeth Levy of Trillium Investments, among many others.

– Gas Leaks Opponents Pack Statehouse Auditorium for FUTURE Act: Last Tuesday (11/12) the Gardner Auditorium was filled with 300+ people for a hearing on gas bills submitted to the joint energy committee. Two companion bills known as the FUTURE Act (S.1940/H.2849) got the most attention, with the hearing kicking off with U.S. Representative Lori Trahan delivering a broadside against natural gas, saying, “Methane is explosive and damages the climate.” Bill sponsor Senator Cynthia Creem, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera also spoke in favor of the legislation. While no one testified against the FUTURE Act, Senator Barrett pointed out to National Grid that “there is no way you’re going to restore public confidence in gas.” He and others focused on what the utility business model of the future looked like, and how they should push thermal energy and appliance replacement to customers.

– “Poll: Mass. Voters Support Fees And Tolls To Raise Money To Fix Transportation Issues” (Zeninjor Enwemeka, WBUR): “It’s no secret that Massachusetts residents are fed up with transportation and congestion in the state. Now, a new poll finds strong support for a number of measures that would raise revenue to improve transportation.”

– Another “Poll Finds Massachusetts Residents See Climate Change As A Real Worry” (Paul Tuthill, WAMC) [read the article]


– Mayors Call for Massachusetts to Go 100% Renewable: Mayors from cities across Massachusetts announced the launch of a new coalition supporting a statewide transition to 100% clean and renewable sources of energy. The coalition, Mayors for 100% Renewable Energy, is co-chaired by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, and Easthampton Mayor Nicolle LaChapelle. [Read the press release here]

– “Amherst in 2050: Carbon neutral?” (Scott Merzbach, Daily Hampshire Gazette) [read the article]


– “Next steps on offshore wind” by Speaker pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, via Commonwealth Magazine.

– “100 years on, gas taxes need reform” by Samuel Kling and Lucas Stephens, via the Boston Globe.

– “We agree – it’s time for bold, equitable climate policy” by Kenia Arbaiza & Representative Christine Barber, via Wicked Local Somerville.


– “How Carbon Pricing Can Further Environmental Justice: Recap” (Ruby Wincele, Climate XChange) [read the article]


– “Excessive idling by Encore Boston Harbor shuttles sparks lawsuit threat” (David Abel, Boston Globe) [read the article]


– “On equity & purpose with Wandra Ashley-Williams” (Tim Cronin, Climate XChange): “Over the past month, I’ve had the pleasure of working with and getting to know the newest member of the Climate XChange team, Wandra Ashley-Williams… I recently had a chance to sit down with her to discuss (among other things) her personal journey and her desire to solve the climate crisis facing her community. The following is a transcript of our conversation.”


– “Regional carbon pricing approach could fracture” (Matt Murphy, SHNS via the Herald News): “Gov. Charlie Baker has said and repeated over the weekend that he thinks a regional approach to carbon pricing and curbing vehicle emissions makes “so much more sense” than putting a higher tax on gas just in Massachusetts. But it’s not clear all his fellow governors will agree on the regional approach.”


– “5 offshore wind firms agree to standard configuration” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine) [read the article]

– “Fishing Industry Dumps Cold Water on Wind Energy Grid” (Colin Young, SHNS via Taunton Gazette): [read the article]


– “Where 2020 Democrats Stand on Carbon Pricing [Updated for the 5th Debate]” (Tim Cronin, Climate XChange) [check back before the debate for an updated article here]


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

  • Senator blasts delay on climate change legislation, action in 2019 unlikely
  • State Approves Weymouth Compressor, Opponents Vow to Fight On
  • “Local representative and youth leader agree: It’s time for bold, equitable climate policy”

Read the full Roundup from November 13th, 2019 here.

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