BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– Carbon pricing hearing finally scheduled, advocates prepare for packed statehouse: On Tuesday, a much-anticipated hearing date for a slew of carbon pricing bills was officially announced, with public testimony scheduled for January 14th at 1 pm in room A-2. Among the bills being heard are two bills backed by the state-wide carbon pricing coalition, one filed by Senator Barrett (S.1924) the other by Rep Benson (H.2810). A carbon pricing bill filed by Senator Pacheco will also be heard (S.2009).
The carbon pricing coalition, coordinating with other groups including Mass Power Forward and the Sierra Club, are planning on using the opportunity to showcase the broad support for the policy. According to initial estimates, over 100 pro-carbon pricing advocates have committed to attending, with more expected. Advocates are likely to emphasize support for carbon pricing policies that prioritize equity, investment in local communities, and clean energy jobs; as opposed to Governor Baker’s TCI proposal which some grassroots advocates are worried does not go far enough on these points.
– Senate leadership still working on comprehensive climate bill, no details yet: Few details are known about an expected Senate bill to further address the climate crisis. The bill, which President Spilka promised a vote on by January 31st, is likely focused on both climate emissions reductions and promoting clean energy use. According to two climate advocates with knowledge of the process, the bill is being worked on cooperatively between Senate President Spilka, Senate Energy Chair Barrett, and Senate Ways & Means Chair Rodridgues. How any forthcoming Senate climate bill fairs in the House is still uncertain, although there have been rumors of House leadership backing a net-zero emissions bill filed by Representative Meschino (H.832).
– Environmental justice bills surging ahead, surprising some: Prior to the holidays the joint environment committee reported out a slew of House and Senate bills focused on environmental justice (EJ). The changes appear to reflect edits being urged by justice communities and EJ advocates. The pace in recent months has surprised some advocates, what they characterize as creating good momentum for EJ this session.
– Rep. Benson takes over local business group: Yesterday Democratic State Rep Jen Benson officially resigned her seat to take over as President of the Alliance for Business Leadership, a progressive group that organizes local business leaders. While at the statehouse, Benson was tapped as the lead House negotiator on healthcare financing reform and also filed the leading House carbon pricing bill (H.2810). Responsibility for managing her carbon pricing bill will pass to Representative William Driscoll (D-Milton) for the remainder of the legislative session. More on Benson’s departure here.
– “Western Massachusetts lawmakers weigh in on TCI deal” (Jodi Reed, 22 WWLP) [read the article]
– “Day of reckoning looms for state’s clean-energy agency amid funding shortfall” (Jon Chesto, Boston Globe): The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, “The quasi-public agency, funded largely by a surcharge on electric bills, has helped fuel the rise of the state’s clean-tech economy during the past decade… But the agency has done this by spending millions more every year than it collects in revenue… Everyone knows that kind of party isn’t meant to last.”
– “Lawmakers want vote on climate pact” (Christian M. Wade, The Salem News) [read the article]
– “Committee Votes to Make Plastic Straws By-Request” (Chris Lisinski, SHNS via WGBH) [read the article]
– “Straus weighing TCI, gas tax independently” (Matt Murphy, SHNS via SouthCoast Today) [read the article]
– “Massachusetts extends electric vehicle rebate program” (WCVB 5) [read the article]
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– Trump admin’s latest rollback in key environmental law has potential local impacts: “The Trump administration is moving to change a landmark environmental law that could limit how much climate change is considered in government projects, a move advocates say could make it harder for the public to register concerns about pipelines and other infrastructure projects” (Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News). The admin is specifically weakening requirements stipulating when projects would be required to conduct an environmental impact study (EIS). The change, if implemented, would take away a key tool for local activists fighting natural gas infrastructure projects. An EIS was at the center of the fight over the Weymouth compressor station and was a primary tool used by local opponents to delay the project.
– “Natural Gas Project Opponents Lifted by Virginia Ruling” (Chris Lisinski, State House News Service): “Opponents of a natural gas project under construction in Weymouth were optimistic Tuesday that a court ruling vacating a permit for a similar facility in Virginia could serve as a helpful precedent… South Shore residents who have been fighting plans for a compressor station in the Fore River basin were buoyed by the news, citing parallels they see between the Virginia case and a federal appeal unfolding in Massachusetts.” [$].
– “Walsh Signs Wetlands Ordinance For Boston” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile) [read the article]
– “10 years in a climate nutshell: where did the last decade get us?” by Maria Virginia Olano, via Climate XChange Media.
– “Should cities and towns be required to place solar panels on the roofs of new municipal buildings?” by Mark Sandeen and William H. Ryan, via the Boston Globe [$].
– “Parity for renewables is key to energy tax policy” by Senator Julian Cyr, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “MassCEC was not created or envisioned as an enterprise” by Benjamin Downing, via his Twitter feed.
– “Massachusetts needs a Net Zero building code” by Cameron Peterson and Rebecca Winterich-Knox, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “What’s stopping us from leaping to Net Zero?” by Senator Jo Comerford, via MassLive.
– “Baker’s climate program could help rural commuters” by Stephen Kulik and Daniel E. Bosley, via the Boston Globe [$].
– “‘I disagree’ with NH Gov. Chris Sununu on Transportation and Climate Initiative, Gov. Charlie Baker says
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– “A ‘Strange’ New England Coral May Hold Secrets To Combating Climate Change” (Patrick Skahill, Connecticut Public Radio via WBUR Earthwhile) [read the article]
– “Fishermen, wind farm developers at odds” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine) [read the article]
LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION SPOTLIGHT
– “Bay State Native Now Leading National Enviro Group” (Matt Murphy, State House News Service): “Boston native and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy begins a new role Monday as president of the Natural Resources Defense Council” [read the article] [$].
– “Bernie Sanders’s Latest Endorsement: Sunrise Movement (Astead W. Herndon, New York Times) [read the article]
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “Leading on Climate Action in the US: Ten States to Watch in 2020” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange) [read the article]
– “New Research: MD Governor Falls Short on Climate Action” (Climate XChange) [read the report]
– “Maine Commission Certifies Hydro Project Sought by Mass.” (Colin A. Young, SHNS via WBUR’s Earthwhile) [read the article]
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Trump attacks on wind turbines, low-flow toilets, and LED lightbulbs set up campaign clash with Democrats” (Toluse Olorunnipa & Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post via the Boston Globe) [read the article] [$].
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from last week:
- “Healey takes on grid operator”
- “New Hampshire pulls out of regional Transportation & Climate Initiative agreement that could bring $500 million a year to Massachusetts”
- TCI releases draft policy design: What you need to know