BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– Hundreds attended virtual rally for Meschino Roadmap bill (Tim Cronin): Yesterday (7/15), 266 people joined Representative Meschino and other lawmakers in a ‘virtual rally’ supporting Meschino’s 2050 Roadmap bill. Among those speaking included Representative Pignatelli, the chair of the Joint Environment Committee, who called the Roadmap bill “the best bill in the legislature right now.” On the call he encouraged advocates to focus their efforts on convincing Representative Golden (House chair of the Joint Energy Committee) and Speaker Deleo to release the bill for a vote before the end of the session. In 2019, Pignatelli’s committee favorably released the Roadmap bill in 2019. The bill is now pending before the House Ways & Means Committee.
The rally was sponsored by Elders Climate Action, Mothers Out Front, 350 Massachusetts, the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental League of Massachusetts, and the League of Women Voters, among others.
– Lawmakers propose ‘Massachusetts Works Progress Administration’ (Tim Cronin): On Monday (7/13), Senator Eldridge and Representative Sena filed legislation (SD3001/HD5180) to create the Massachusetts Works Progress Administration Program (WPAP), a state-wide jobs program. WPAP seeks to help those currently facing unemployment by providing them with jobs in areas that include COVID-19 contract tracing, climate change resiliency, and renewable energy infrastructure. In a statement to the Roundup, Senator Eldridge said the bill “provides jobs around climate resiliency, alternative energy development, and environment protection. The coronavirus pandemic has the potential to create an important shift in how we all work, and how that work interacts with our climate and earth. My hope is that the WPAP bill can make a positive contribution to the climate sector.”
– Legislative Updates:
- There are just four days left on the 2020 legislative calendar before Democrats cede some of their power to Governor Baker and the small GOP minority in the legislature. Both groups would gain considerable leverage over major bills, including any potential climate bill, if Democratic lawmakers fail to get those bills to Baker’s desk by July 20. Lawmakers need to give themselves a 10-day cushion (since Baker has ten days to act on any bill), to guarantee they have enough time to deal with any amendments or vetoes from the governor before the July 31st. Democratic leaders have not agreed on a plan to extend the session past July 31st, which would side-step this issue.
- In a tweet, House Energy Chair Golden revealed that the inaugural meeting of the “House Green Recovery Task Force” had happened and featured top policy staff from the Environmental League of Massachusetts, who discussed green energy jobs.
- The Senate has chosen not to take up a House-approved, half-billion-dollar package of transportation tax and fee increases this session. They are instead focusing on passing an omnibus transportation bonding bill, which the House passed in March (SHNS, via Metrowest).
- No fiscal 2021 budget proposal has been announced by either House or Senate budget leaders, this despite being almost two weeks into the new fiscal year.
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Markey, Pressley Push Feds To Install Air Quality Monitors In Chelsea” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR’s Earthwhile): [read the article]
– “Senator Markey Urges Immediate Halt of Natural Gas Releases at Weymouth Compressor Station” [read the article]
– “Environmental issues must not be lost in pandemic recovery” by Jennifer Benson, via the Worcester Telegram.
– “In face of summer heat and its ills, public policy needs to be at full blast” by Eugenia Gibbons and Winston Vaughan, via the Boston Globe.
– “The Natural Gas Divide” by Emily Pontecorvo, via Grist.
– “Our racist fossil fuel energy system” by Nikayla Jefferson and Leah C. Stokes, via the Boston Globe.
– “The City of Boston’s Climate Action” by Christopher Cook, via the CXC Roundup: “Under Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston works towards environmental protection and climate readiness…” [see full column below]
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– Environmental groups hail Gov. Baker’s decision to rescind emergency order on plastic bags (Martha Merrow): Shoppers will once again be allowed to use reusable bags in grocery stores as of July 10th. In a decision that environmental organizations are hailing, Gov Charlie Baker rescinded the emergency order he issued in March, which suspended the use of reusable bags in stores and froze the ban on single-use plastic bags in the 139 cities and towns that had passed such prohibitions.
“This is a home run — good for the environment, for public health, for reducing waste, and for protecting both workers and shoppers,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG, in a press release. “We are grateful to the governor and his team for making this decision.” Massachusetts issued a number of emergency orders out of caution when COVID-19 was first spreading. However, since then, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has determined that the primary means of transmission is person-to-person, spreading primarily through the infected respiratory droplets emitted during close contact with another person.
There was initial controversy about the plastic bag ban repeal as the plastics industry came out against it – Politico obtained a copy of a letter that the Plastics Industry Association sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in mid-March “requesting a public statement from the department endorsing the idea that single-use plastics are the safest choice amid the pandemic,” Politico reports. “We ask that the department speak out against bans on these products as a public safety risk and help stop the rush to ban these products by environmentalists and elected officials that puts consumers and workers at risk,” the industry group wrote.
– “Hurricane Preparedness Week a reminder to residents to prepare, take precautions” (Wicked Local, Needham): [read the article]
– “EPA Invites Public To Weigh In On Proposed Changes To Housatonic River Cleanup” (Nancy Eve Cohen, New England Public Media): [read the article]
– Kennedy, Markey to join youth forum on climate, justice (Tim Cronin): On Wednesday, July 15 at 6-8pm, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III both plan to attend a forum cover racial justice, gun violence prevention, and climate action. The forum is co-hosted by March For Our Lives: Massachusetts and Boston Climate Strike. [learn more and sign up here]
– Biden unveils newly upgraded, sweeping $2 trillion climate plan (Tim Cronin): On Tuesday (7/14), Vice President Joe Biden spoke from Wilmington, Delaware, where he announced a more aggressive clean energy plan than previously proposed by his campaign. In it, Biden calls for investing $2 trillion over four years on clean energy and seeks to set a 100% clean-electricity standard by 2035. Learn more from NPR.
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– Mass. joins multi-state agreement to boost electric truck use (Martha Merrow): Massachusetts is among 14 states (and Washington D.C.) that are newly committing to a plan to accelerate the growth of the market for electric trucks, an effort supporters say will reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The agreement sets a goal of at least 30% zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales by 2030, and 100% by as late as 2050. Participating states will use an existing multi-state task force to develop and implement a ZEV action plan. According to the State House News Service, the Baker administration last month expanded the state’s electric vehicle rebate program to include commercial and non-profit fleets. [read the full memorandum of understanding]
– “Massachusetts Finalizes Distributed Solar Rules With Fewer Restrictions on Land Use” (Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media): [read the article]
– “As woods give way to solar farms, state to issue controversial rules that could harm solar industry” (David Abel, The Boston Globe): [read the article]
– “Soaked: A Policy Agenda to Prepare for a Climate-Triggered Housing Crash” (Dr. Lindsay Owens, The Great Democracy Initiative): [read the article]
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “Connecting Past to Present: Confronting Environmental Racism and Social Injustice in Hawaii” (Angelique Kokal, Climate XChange): [read the article]
– “Houston is Failing its Communities of Color: A History of Redlining and Pollution Siting” (Joshua Burns, Climate XChange): [read the article]
– “Hydro-Québec sweetens 1,200-MW transmission line deal with Maine” (Jared Anderson, S&P Global): [read the article]
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups” (Rebecca Beitsch, the Hill): [read the article]
“The City of Boston’s Climate Action”
by Christopher Cook, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston
“Under Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston works towards environmental protection and climate readiness. Mayor Walsh understands the need to take steps now to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and works to protect the environment and our neighborhoods.
Boston’s Climate Action Plan is committed to taking action against climate change, by preparing for its impacts and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. The 2019 Climate Action Plan update details 18 strategies to increase carbon reductions from buildings and transportation over the next five years. We’re putting in place these carbon reduction actions alongside our ongoing programs like Carbon Free Boston, Zero Waste Boston, and Go Boston 2030 that build a more efficient, mobile, zero-waste, and healthier city now and for future generations.
As the Mayor of a coastal city, he understands the pressing need to address climate now in preparation of the future. Boston is already seeing rising sea levels, extreme heat, and increased weather events. Climate Ready Boston is the ongoing initiative to develop resilient solutions to prepare Boston communities, residents, and infrastructures for the long-term impacts of climate change. It integrates resilience into all facets of city planning and preparation. We have completed neighborhood plans for South Boston, East Boston, Charlestown and are nearing completion for Dorchester, Downtown and the North End plans.
The community-driven, resilient Moakley Park Vision Plan is an important component of a City-wide strategy to protect socially vulnerable neighborhoods and critical infrastructure. Work will progress to achieve our Resilient Boston Harbor vision through schematic design, expanded community engagement, and governance, operations and maintenance development in 2020-2021.
The City maintains our Boston’s wealth of historic sites, buildings, landscapes, and waterways.
Because of Mayor Walsh’s work in Boston, he was named the North American Co-Chair for C40 Climate Cities steering committee.”
– – –
Christopher Cook is the Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston. He is responsible for leading Mayor Walsh’s Cabinet in achieving its mission of enhancing the quality of life in Boston by protecting air, water, climate, and land resources, and preserving and improving the integrity of Boston’s architectural and historic resources.
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from last week:
- John Kerry testifies at State Senate climate committee hearing
- Columbia Gas pays out $56 million for role in Merrimack Valley gas explosions
- “House Climate Agenda is a Glimpse at How Democrats Hope to Tackle Climate Change