Feb. 4th Roundup: Poll finds majority back state climate action

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– Massachusetts Senate passes economy-wide carbon pricing, net-zero emissions target: In a marathon late-night session, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation creating economy-wide carbon pricing, and requiring the state to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In doing so, the Senate doubled down on its commitment to the market-based policy to reduce emissions, which passed the chamber in 2018 but failed to make progress in the House. The political landscape of climate policy has shifted rapidly in the two years since the Senate last voted for carbon pricing. Increased pressure for climate action, new emissions reduction commitments from policymakers, and growing grassroots support have all increased the odds that the Senate’s bill, and carbon pricing, will become law [read the full article here].

– “In Massachusetts, growing support for a carbon price but few details in proposal” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): [read the article]

– “7 takes on Senate climate change debate” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]

– Legislative committees set to release, or stop, progress on bills today: Today (2/5) is ‘Joint Rule 10’ day on Beacon Hill, the official deadline for bills not already reported out of committee. Bills can either be reported out favorably, or die a lonely death with a ‘study order’ attached (the legislature’s way of stopping a bill from moving forward in the current session). Committee chairs can, and very much do, give themselves extensions on having to make a decision on bills. Regardless, expect to see public decisions to be made on a number of bills today.

– House committee gives thumbs up to appliance efficiency bill: Today (2/4) the joint energy committee, led by House Chair Rep. Thomas Golden, favorably released Rep. Josh Cutler’s appliance energy efficiency bill (H.2832). In the last session, the bill passed the House but failed in the Senate, which had not passed similar legislation. Things are looking better for the bill this session because the Senate passed its own version (S.2478) last week.

– Local option divestment bills released from committee: Overcoming a major legislative hurdle, a pair of bills (H.3662/S.636) focusing on giving local communities the choice to divest municipality or county pensions were favorably released from the public service committee on Tuesday (2/4). Under current state law, local pension systems are prohibited from divesting from fossil fuels, even if they want to.

– House carbon pricing bill gets extension order: The House carbon pricing bill (H.2810) filed originally by Rep. Benson, has received an extension order until June 6th. This means that committee members will need to vote again on whether to advance it or not. Extension orders, although better than being ‘sent to study,’ are not always an optimistic sign. Extensions have often been used as a way to delay chamber wide debate on an issue and leave little time for the Ways & Means Committee to consider technical changes to a bill.

– Senate quietly schedules hearing on Speaker DeLeo’s GreenWorks bill: On Tuesday (2/4) the Senate posted a notice of a public hearing for the House’s GreenWorks bill (H.2755). Supported by Speaker DeLeo and House leaders, GreenWorks originally passed the House in spring 2019 at unprecedented speed while receiving overwhelming support from House members. Its fate in the Senate had been less certain, largely due to the tension between the House and Senate. The hearing will be on February 25th at 1:00 pm in room A2.

– Polling shows overwhelming majority want state to lead on climate action: A poll released on Monday (2/5) showed a majority of Massachusetts citizens want the state to take action to address climate change. Conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, here are some interesting topline stats from the poll:

  • 53% of residents see climate change as a “very serious” problem, up from 42% in a 2011 poll.

  • 56% think Massachusetts should act ahead of other states, compare that to 4% who want the state to wait for others to act

  • 47% wanted their city or town to act ahead of other municipalities

  • 49% of residents say it’s not too late to act to address climate change

[See the full results of the poll here]

– Senate leadership promises vote on gas bill: Last week, a slew of amendments targeting natural gas and gas pipeline safety were withdrawn from consideration in the Senate’s ‘Next Generation Climate’ bill (S.2477). The move came after Senate leadership, including President Spilka and Energy Committee Chair Senator Barrett, promised those Senators who sponsored the gas amendments that they would put forward stand-alone legislation to address the state’s gas infrastructure issues. Details on when the bill would come, and what will be in it have not been released.

– “In Massachusetts, activists say net-zero not enough without 100% renewables” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): [read the article]

– Baker admin announces new energy & environment appointments: EEA Secretary Theoharides announced today (2/5) several top appointments, naming Jim Montgomery as Commissioner of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Patrick Woodcock as Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources (DOER).


– “BU Professor Is On Hunger Strike Over Weymouth Compressor” (Barbara Moran, WBUR): “For a little over a week, Philips has consumed only water, unsweetened tea, a daily multivitamin and sea salt. He’s still teaching and conducting research, but has cut back on other activities to conserve energy — like swapping his bicycle for an electronic bike for his daily commute, for instance. He has already lost 10 pounds, but says he plans to continue the hunger strike “indefinitely” until his demands are met.” You can follow his progress on Twitter at the hashtag #Hunger4JusticeMA.

– “Healey says state agency ‘really bungled’ compressor data” (Michael P. Norton, SHNS via the Patriot Ledger): [read the article]

– “State To Install Permanent Air Monitoring Station In Weymouth” (Barbara Moran, WBUR): “State regulators will install a permanent air monitoring station in Weymouth to detect changes in air quality related to a natural gas compressor station under construction nearby.”

– “O’Malley wants to talk recycling” (Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe): Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley, one of the council’s most vocal advocates for environmental protection and climate resiliency, wants to talk recycling. In an impassioned speech from council chambers Wednesday, O’Malley, from Jamaica Plain, called for a citywide conversation on the city’s recycling strategies and ways to reduce solid waste…” [$]

– “The MBTA built solar panels in Hingham over a year ago. They’re still not generating electricity.” (Amy McKeever, the Patriot Ledger): [read the article]

– Coalition seeks a net-zero Suffolk Downs project: Led by the Sierra, 30 local groups sent a letter to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh requesting any use of Suffolk Downs to take into consideration climate change. Specifically, the letter called for buildings to be net-zero, which is typically achieved through a combination of energy efficiency and onsight renewable energy resources. The letter also requested increased affordable housing, access to public transit, and a stronger commitment that the project would be built with 100% union labor.


– “Let’s Save Our World in 2020” by US Senator Ed Markey and Roxana Rivera, via the Winthrop Transcript.

– “Picking apart Rep. Kearney’s fishy argument” by Lloyd Mendes, via Commonwealth Magazine.

– “Trees and transportation: building on recent climate action” by State Senator Adam Hinds, via the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

– “Should Massachusetts adopt congestion pricing to ease traffic on its roadways?” by Julia Wallerce and Monica Medeiros, via the Boston Globe.

– “Mass. coastal property owners beware” by Chad J. McGuire and Michael Goodman, via Commonwealth Magazine.


– “Black History Month 2020: Rev. Mariama White-Hammond fights climate change with fellowship” (Crystal Haynes, Boston 25 News): [read the article]


– “For offshore wind, expect more delays” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]


– “Largest Harvard Faculty Group Votes For Divestment In Fossil Fuels” (Chris Van Buskirk, SHNS via WBUR): [read the article]


– “Opponents Eye Ballot Vote on Hydro Transmission Project” (Colin A. Young, State House News Service): “Maine citizens opposed to the plan to deliver clean hydropower from Québec to Massachusetts via a transmission corridor through the Maine woods said this week they have filed enough signatures to get a referendum overturning approval for the project onto the November ballot.” [$]


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

  1. Senators file over 150 amendments to climate package
  2. “Carbon pricing is a cornerstone of Senate climate package”
  3. Mass. Senate’s Climate Bills: Overview, Summary, & Context

Read the full Roundup here from January 30th, 2020 here.

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Featured Image: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash