BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– Lawmakers face June climate bill deadline: Legislators on the Joint Energy Committee (aka. TUE) are facing a deadline of June 4th, 2020 to report on climate legislation for this session. A number of prominent climate bills were ‘extended’ earlier in 2020, meaning lawmakers on the committees they are before received more time to consider whether to support, reject, or amend them. Legislation before TUE that faces this deadline includes a carbon pricing bill (H.2810), one to achieve 100% renewable energy (H.2836/S.1958), and a number of gas leaks bills including the FUTURE Act (H.2849/S.1940). It is not unprecedented for bills to be further extended into the session.
– “Baker-Polito Administration Announces New Grant Program to Address PFAS Contamination” [read the press release here]
– For the most up-to-date info on COVID-19 & Beacon Hill…..
- The State House News Service coronavirus updates tracker” see the latest updates here.
- MassTrac COVID-19 bill tracker: Check it out, and follow updates, here.
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Tree Deaths in Urban Settings Are Linked to Leaks from Natural Gas Pipelines Below Streets” (Phil McKenna, InsideClimate News): [read the article]
– “The most important thing an individual can do, is be a little less of an individual” by Maria Virginia Olano, featuring Bill McKibben, via Climate XChange. [Leer en Español]
– “We need to start using less natural gas” by Emily Norton, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “The Road Map to Carbon Neutral for Massachusetts” by Barbara Heffner, via the Wayland Patch.
– “One Crisis Doesn’t Stop Because Another Starts” by Bill McKibben, via the New Yorker.
– “COVID-19’s unequal effects in Massachusetts” by Jen Benson, via the Lowell Sun.
CLIMATE ACTION FEATURE
– Reverend Small to lead climate-focused faith group: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light announced this week the selection of Rev. Fred Small as its new Executive Director. In a statement, MassIPL said, “He [Fred] has been a visible leader in the environmental justice and climate change movement for over 20 years. His passion, experience, and range of skills (from environmental lawyer to singer/songwriter to Unitarian Universalist minister) give him an extraordinary set of abilities to lead MassIPL in these challenging times.” MassIPL is focused on mobilizing faith-based organizations to take action on climate change and promote sustainability. The organization has been a prominent proponent of carbon pricing in the state.
– Regional carbon pricing timeline postponed, mixed response by proponents: The coalition of northeast states leading the TCI process (a regional cap-and-trade pact to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels) has pushed back its timeline to Fall 2020. Prior to COVID-19, the goal was to finalize the details of the program by Spring 2020. According to SHNS, “The pact as proposed last year would have added between 5 cents and 17 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, but researchers also estimated it could save millions in health care costs and generate more than $500 million in revenue for state government in Massachusetts.”
Senator Marc Pacheco, Chair of the Senate Climate Change Committee, blasted the move to postpone the finalization of the pact. In a statement to SHNS’s Matt Murphy, Pacheco said, “I do not understand, however, how these [pandemic related health & economic] challenges justify abandoning our responsibility to prevent the worst effects of climate change that will bring even more devastating, more permanent catastrophe.”
Others, including Climate XChange Senior Researcher Jonah Kurman-Faber, were more optimistic, saying to the Roundup, “everyone and everything has been impacted from the pandemic, so there’s nothing unusual about minor tweaking of the TCI timeline. The bottom line is that TCI is still on track for a 2022 start.”
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– “Solar power growth, jobs decline during pandemic” (Katie Lannan, SHNS via SouthCoast Today): “Job losses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have wiped out the past five years of workforce growth in the solar energy field, according to a new industry analysis. The expected June 2020 solar workforce of 188,000 people across the United States is 114,000 below the pre-pandemic forecast of 302,000 workers, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which said in a statement Monday that the solar industry is now losing jobs at a faster rate than the U.S. economy. In Massachusetts, the loss of 4,284 solar jobs represents a 52 percent decline from previous projections, according to the association’s analysis.”
– “More US Power Generated This Year Expected To Come From Renewables Than From Coal” (Craig LeMoult, WGBH): [read the article]
– “Sunny skies lead to solar power record” (ISO Newswire): [read the article]
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
– “The Role of Agriculture and Carbon Capture as Natural Climate Solutions” (Carlie Clarcq, Climate XChange): [Read the article, watch the video]
– “Biden Names Ocasio-Cortez, Kerry to Lead His Climate Task Force, Bridging Democrats’ Divide” (Marianne Lavelle, InsideClimate News): [read the article]
– Study: single transmission line would bring economic, enviro benefits: A new report from the Brattle Group highlights the economic and environmental benefits of creating an offshore energy transmission hub in Massachusetts. The alternative to having one electric transmission line connecting offshore wind projects to the Massachusetts grid is having multiple ones, which the report argues creates inefficiencies and negatively impacts marine wildlife. Read the full report here.
THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT
– Healey: endangered species lawsuit clears roadblock: A Federal court on Monday (5/18) blocked the Trump administration’s attempt to throw out a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and other state’s AGs. The lawsuit was filed last Fall in response to the admin’s rollbacks of core protections in the Endangered Species Act. With a major roadblock out of the way, the courts will now be free to decide whether or not the rollbacks are legal.
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– Maine utility sues state over hydropower ballot question: Yet another twist this week with the NECEC, a controversial 145-mile transmission line project that would bring Canadian hydroelectric power through Maine wilderness, and provide Massachusetts with about 1/5th of its energy needs. This week, Central Maine Power (the project owner) filed a lawsuit against the state of Maine claiming a ballot question that project opponents got on the November ballot is unconstitutional. Ther ballot would ask Maine voters to overturn a key permit needed by the CMP to build the transmission line. Opponents to the NECEC argue the project is run by a foreign company, will only benefit Massachusetts residents at the expense of Maine’s natural resources, and will provide no meaningful reduction in emissions.
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from last week:
- AG Healey draws focus on intersecting impacts of COVID-19, environment, & race
- “Controversial hydro project advances in Maine”
- “Can Mass. launch the fusion revolution?”