BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– 14 days and counting: climate conference committee update: It’s been fourteen days since the formation of the 6-member conference committee charged with reconciling differences between the Senate (S.2500) and House (H.4933) climate bills. No public statements on the work of the committee have been made by its members, and it’s unknown how much they have been meeting over the last two weeks. Conference committees are another ‘black box’ of the Massachusetts legislative’s decision-making process, with both tradition and joint rules allowing them to keep the substance, duration, and other details of their negotiations free from public scrutiny.
Despite this, climate advocates are trying to find ways to push members of the committee towards action on a final bill. Mass Power Forward, a progressive coalition of climate organizations, plans on sending this letter to conference committee members, and are currently soliciting organizations to sign on.
– With the big climate bills passed, is that it for climate action this session?: Most likely. Despite extending the session until the end of the year, legislative leaders have signaled an unwillingness to vote on any new legislation, with the exception of bills currently before a conference committee or the long-overdue state budget for next year. Lawmakers can technically attach non-budget amendments to the state budget, and often do, but the House has traditionally taken a strong stance against the use of the budget for non-fiscal policymaking. In years past a coalition of environmental organizations, led by ELM, has also drawn attention to the use of the budget in protecting the environment. They’ve pushed to reverse previous budget cuts and restore a commitment of1% of the state budget going to the environment. This session, the coalition’s efforts may be stymied by an uncertain economic climate and projected revenue shortfalls.
Of course, it is always possible for a bill with broad support to emerge from committee and pass at the eleventh hour. Last session, the toxic flame retardant bill was passed by both chambers in the waning days of the 2017-2018 session, although it was later vetoed by the Governor. Yet actions like this are rare, and it’s increasingly unlikely we’ll see consensus built on new bills between the House and Senate while intensive negotiations continue on final bills on police reform, economic development, climate, healthcare, and transportation continue.
– “New Coalition Will Promote Offshore Wind” (Colin A. Young, State House News Service): “Environmental advocacy groups, research institutes and business alliances from around New England have banded together to form a new coalition to promote the benefits of offshore wind energy in New England. New England for Offshore Wind plans to formally launch Aug. 26 with a Zoom meeting that will feature remarks from representatives of various states and interest groups. Susannah Hatch, clean energy coalition director for the Environmental League of Massachusetts, will be among those to speak.” Read the full SHNS article here. [$]
– “House Passes 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill at the 11th Hour” (Jacob Stern, Massachusetts Sierra Club) [read]
– “Map vs. action: Climate goals debated in state legislature” (Danny Jin, The Berkshire Eagle): [read]
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– TONIGHT: Councilor Michelle Wu launches her own Boston Green New Deal & Just Recovery plan: On Monday (8/17), Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu released a document entitled, “Planning for a Boston Green New Deal and Just Recovery.” The 49-page plan outlines the need, process, and steps Boston can take to realize its own Green New Deal. Tonight (8/20) at 6:30 pm, Councilor Wu will host a discussion on the plan that will feature ACE’s Mela Bush-Miles, Sunrise Boston’s Maya Mudgal, the report’s lead author Nina Schlegel, 32BJ SEIU’s Roxana Rivera, City Life Vida Urbana’s Gabriela Cartagena, and 350 Mass’ Bob Tumposky. Sign up to join the launch here.
[Next week the Roundup will be doing a deep dive into Councilor Wu’s plan featuring a discussion with Nina Schlegel, the report’s lead author and the Director of the Global Center for Climate Justice]
– “Report Warns Climate Change Will Cause More Flooding, Erosion On North Shore” (Philip Marcelo, The Associated Press via WBUR): [read]
– “Environmental group hoists banner over iconic Citgo sign” (Jeremy C. Fox & Stephanie Purifoy, Boston Globe): [read] [$]
– “Springfield city councilors raise concerns that House climate bill helps biomass plant” (Peter Goonan, MassLive): [read]
– “Does your state want to cut carbon emissions? These old laws could be standing in the way.” (Emily Pontecorvo, Grist) [read]
– “MassPIRG: Haverhill One of Only Two Cities So Far to Bring Back Plastic Bag Ban” (News Editor): [read]
– Weymouth compressor opponents unveil Revere billboard targeting Governor Baker: In a statement found on Twitter, FRRACS said, “Right along Gov. Baker’s drive to work. We thought he might appreciate knowing that we’re still fighting for our lives here in the Basin! And we don’t want to forget all of the other gas infrastructure build-outs that his DEP has approved!” See the billboard here.
– “Best climate change policy you’ve never heard of” by Charlie Harak & State Representative Josh S. Cutler, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “Building Inclusive and Effective Climate Coalitions” webinar recap from Carlie Clarcq Climate XChange.
– “Hurricane Isaias brings destruction to the East Coast — a glimpse at what the future could look like” by Carlie Clarcq, via Climate XChange.
– “Thoughts on the advocacy of regulators” by Joel Wool, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “The Mass. Legislature’s Climate Bills Are Important. But They Wouldn’t Do Enough For My Most Vulnerable Patients” by Gaurab Basu, via WBUR’s Cognoscenti.
– “House takes baby steps on climate change” by Jacob Stern, Claire B.W. Müller, Sarah Dooling, and Cabell Eames, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “Tuerck’s critique of Healey fits a pattern: Beacon Hill Institute stuck in bygone decade of denial” by Kert Davies, via Commonwealth Magazine.
– “Toward a liveable future” by Judith Aronstein, via Wicked Local Acton.
– “Brookline electrification efforts won’t stop here” by Lisa Cunningham and Jesse Gray, via Wicked Local Brookline.
– “The president’s environmental plunder” by the Boston Globe Editorial Board.
PRICE THAT CARBON
– Smith College Professor collaborates in laying out a simpler path for carbon pricing: Smith College Professor Alex Baron, collaborating Professor Noa Kaufman and others, has released a new paper arguing that we should set carbon pricing based on short-term goals, arrived at through broader democratic deliberation. Although more modest than those previously proposed, the approach would sidestep the need to involve far-out climate projections from scientists and other perceived shortcomings of carbon pricing. Read the full paper here and see David Robert’s write-up in Vox here.
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– Boston Globe Reporter finalist for new whale documentary: Boston Globe reporter and documentary filmmaker David Abel has been named as a finalist for the Jackson Wild Award, the “Oscars for nature films”, for his new documentary about right whales. Learn more about the film, Entangled, on the documentary’s webpage.
– “EPA Moves To Reduce Runoff That Feeds Toxic Algae In Charles River” (Barbara Moran, WBUR’s Earthwhile): [read]
– “Volunteers Rescue Dozens Of Dolphins Stranded On Wellfleet Beach” (The Associated Press, via WBUR)” [read]
– “Fishermen And Scientists Join Forces To Track Effects Of Climate Change” (Barbara Moran, WBUR): [read]
– “EPA: Link found between climate change, number of Lyme disease cases” (Kelly Reardon, 22 WWLP): [read]
– “Drought in Massachusetts extends to more than half of state; 90-degree weather and ‘little-to-no rain’ played a part, officials say” (Jackson Cote, MassLive): [read]
– “Environmentalists rally behind Markey as primary nears” (Nick Sobczyk, E&E News): [read]
– “With the Biden-Harris Ticket, Environmental Justice Is a Focus” (Lisa Friedman, New York Times) [read] [$]
– “Young Climate Activists Say Markey Has Their Back. Will They Have His?” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR’s Earthwhile): [read]
– “The DNC virtual roll call was also a cry for climate action” (Shannon Osaka, Grist) [read]
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “Challenge to Mass. hydro-electricity connection yanked from ballot” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): “The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine on Thursday yanked a referendum question off the November ballot that could have derailed a Massachusetts proposal to import hydro-electricity from Quebec using a power line running from the Canadian border to Lewiston, Maine”. [read]
– “Virginia Joins the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Finally” (Kaylee Cornelius, Climate XChange): [read]
– “Rerouting Line 5 and the Ongoing Decommissioning Battle” (Samantha Tracy, Climate XChange): [read]
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Six former EPA bosses call for a big course change at the agency” (Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press via Boston Globe): [read] [$]
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from last week:
- House passes climate bill in late-night Friday session
- Getting a 2020 climate law passed will require compromise: comparing the Senate & House climate proposals
- Smith College Professor: more needed to cut emissions by 2030