July 9th Roundup: John Kerry testifies at State Senate climate committee hearing

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– John Kerry testifies at State Senate climate committee hearing (Martha Merrow): Last week, at a Beacon Hill hearing focusing on climate inaction in Massachusetts, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called-in to urge state policymakers to pass climate policy legislation into law this session. “We’re not getting the job done. When I say we, I mean collectively everybody — parliaments, legislators, presidents, prime ministers,” said Kerry. “When we negotiated the Paris Agreement, we knew that we could not get to a mandatory reduction of emissions that would guarantee the Earth’s temperature would stay at two degrees centigrade or aspirationally at 1.5 [degrees], which would be better. But right now we’re blowing past 1.5, we’re blowing past 2.0.” [watch the full hearing here]

– Other legislative updates:

    • Today (7/9) Senate lawmakers plan to debate, amend, and vote on a Policing Reform Bill. The House is expected to take up its own policing bill in the coming weeks.
    • House lawmakers are expected to pass a bill today (7/9) seeking to give the Governor more control in combating mosquito-borne disease, which officials expect will be worse this year.
    • With the state facing continued uncertainty over future tax revenue, legislative budget leaders appear prepared to pass multiple temporary budgets over the coming months. Lawmakers will eventually need to pass a permanent full-year budget, which may not come until September or later in the Fall. Not passing a full budget now may foreshadow plans to extend the current legislative session, which is currently slated to end on July 31st.



– Columbia Gas pays out $56 million for role in Merrimack Valley gas explosions (Martha Merrow): On Thursday, the Baker-Polito Administration and Attorney General Maura Healey announced an agreement with Columbia Gas that forces the company to leave Massachusetts and pay $56 million for its role in the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, according to a press release from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The money from the payout will go to cost relief efforts for thousands of low-income gas customers and pay for energy efficiency efforts in older homes and buildings in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. Additionally, Columbia Gas’s new owner, Eversource will be required to ensure safe operations going forward. “Today’s announcement builds on our commitment to the full recovery of the communities, residents and businesses of the Merrimack Valley who were severely impacted by the tragic 2018 gas explosions, and to improved pipeline safety throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This settlement will support the affected communities by improving and maintaining safety in the region, increasing clean energy and energy efficiency measures and providing rate relief to low-income customers.”

– 182 local elected call for 100% renewable energy bill (Tim Cronin): In a letter organized by Environment Massachusetts, 182 local officials including Mayors, and those on local councils, select boards, and energy committees asked members of Joint Energy Committee to release favorably a bill seeking to achieve 100% renewable energy in the state (H.2836). The Senate and House have so far declined to vote on legislation to achieve 100% Renewable Energy.


– “House Climate Agenda is a Glimpse at How Democrats Hope to Tackle Climate Change” by Carlie Clarcq, via Climate XChange.

– “States are falling short on building decarbonization — Here’s what regulators need to do” by Mike Henchen and Sherri Billimoria, via Utility Dive.

– “Crashing coastal property values and the economic fallout of climate change” by US Senator Jeanne Shaheen and US Senator JeanneSheldon Whitehouse, via the Boston Globe.

– “What Facebook and the Oil Industry Have in Common” by Bill McKibben, via the New Yorker.


– “Where in Mass. Climate Change May Increase Flood Risk” (Chris Gloninger & Asher Klein, NBC Boston): [reads the article]

– “Despite fears of EEE-carrying mosquitoes, aerial spraying poses greater danger, environmentalists say” (David Abel, Boston Globe): “As the state ramps up its response to what officials fear could be another dangerous summer for eastern equine encephalitis, environmental advocates are warning them to avoid relying on aerial spraying to reduce transmission of the deadly, mosquito-borne disease, an approach they say has proven to be ineffective and endangers public health.” [read the full article] [read complaint from environmental groups]


– “Utah Rep. Joel Briscoe on Passing Bipartisan Climate Policy” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): [read the article]


– “Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035” (Rachel Frazin): [read the article]


– “Reps: Fed center could power offshore wind efforts” (Colin A. Young, SHNS via Southcoast Today): [read the article]


– “Massachusetts Moves to Follow California, New York in Planning for Natural Gas Phaseout” (Justin Gerdes, Greentech Media): [read the article]

– NECEC launches ‘Clean Energy Back to Work Challenge’ (Tim Cronin): This week NECEC, a membership-based clean energy advocacy group, announced its Clean Energy Back to Work Challenge, an initiative to highlight clean energy organizations that have successfully adapted their business practices amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The initiative comes as the industry has lost more than 620,000 jobs across the country due to the pandemic. In a press statement, NECEC said it, “invites businesses and organizations to submit their best practices, pilots, and innovations to address the challenges presented by COVID-19”. The initiative will culminate in a new virtual awards ceremony recognizing solutions across five unique awards categories, which will be held on November 12.

– “Atlantic Coast Pipeline Canceled as Delays and Costs Mount” (Ivan Penn, NY Times): [read the article]


– Pro-Markey enviro SuperPAC makes almost $1 million ad buy (Tim Cronin): Environmental advocates supporting U.S. Senator Ed Markey’s reelection campaign have launched a new super PAC that plans to spend close to $1 million on local advertisements. The primary ad, which will be featured on television as well as digitally, focuses on Markey’s past work on climate change, healthcare, and opioids. According to the State House News Service: “the ad has been paid for by United for Massachusetts, a new federal super PAC formed in cooperation between Environment America Action Fund and the Sunrise Movement. The creation of the super PAC marks an expansion of the effort already underway by Environment Massachusetts to financially support Markey’s reelection.”

– Local enviro turnout organization plans to contact 200,000 MA voters (Tim Cronin): In the wake of the expanded vote-by-mail legislation signed into law by Governor Baker, a Boston-based national voter turnout organization plans to contact more than 200,000 environmentalists to urge them to vote by mail. The Environmental Voter Project (EVP), a national nonpartisan nonprofit based in Massachusetts, will mobilize its voter turnout operation to encourage environmentalists to vote and educate them on their new vote-from-home options ahead of the September 1st primary elections as well as the November 3rd general election. In a press statement, EVP said they have “hundreds of volunteers ready to contact approximately 200,000 Massachusetts voters by phone and text.”


– “Mass. becomes dirty word in Maine referendum fight” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]


– “The Future of Virginia’s Solar Market and Its Goal to Leave No Resident Behind” (Kaylee Cornelius, Climate XChange): [read the article]

– “North Carolina Issues New Resilience Plan, Includes Climate Justice Concerns” (Kirian Mischke-Reeds, Climate XChange): [read the article]

– “Illinois Considers Ambitious Energy Reforms” (Benny Smith, Climate XChange): [read the article]

– “Dakota Access Oil Line to Be Shut by Court in Blow for Trump” (Ellen M. Gilmer & Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg News): [read the article]


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

  1. Other Legislative Updates
  2. Shadowy fossil fuel funded coalition sends letter to House leadership discouraging climate action
  3. Business leaders hold virtual policy day to urge action on climate, energy this session

Read the full Roundup here from July 1st, 2020 here.

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Featured Image: Photo by Kareya Saleh on Unsplash