October 9th Roundup: Politics Loom Over Delayed Climate Bill

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– 2020 politics loom large over climate conference committee negotiation: It’s been 64 days since the House and Senate entered into negotiations on a climate bill, and its status remains unknown to the public, advocates, and even most lawmakers. A 6-member conference committee appointed to reconcile the different Senate (S.2500) and House (H.4933) climate bills is likely stuck on differing approaches to reducing emissions.

The Senate bill seeks a broader approach that focuses on transportation and building emissions, while the House largely stuck with measures that reduce pollution in the electric sector. The Senate bill also includes bold policies like an economy-wide carbon price and creating a new watchdog agency for climate policy. The House bill also incorporated a popular environmental justice policy. But policy considerations (and the need for climate action…) are most likely taking a backseat to political considerations. For better or worse this, like the secrecy surrounding the committee meetings themselves, is typical for conference committees.

What’s abnormal is this year’s timeline. Conference committees usually have to finish work well before a July 31st deadline, in order to leave time for both chambers to vote on a final bill and send it to the Governor. Facing pandemic-related disruptions to in-person legislative work, this year’s deadline was pushed to early January 2021 (the end of session). Meaning we might not see a bill until next week, next month, or even next year. If at all.

Add on that members of the climate conference committee are feeling very little political pressure from their party leaders to put out a final climate bill. Most lawmakers with tough re-election challenges had them in the September primary, leaving the majority facing no opponents on the ballot in November. This leaves legislative leaders with little political reason to rush a bill before November 3rd (setting aside the changing climate). Additionally, some members of the committee may be waiting to see the results of the Presidential election, with a Biden victory likely to shift emphasis from state to federal action and potentially pour millions of dollars in green investments into states like Massachusetts. This could be used to justify a delay to the climate bill, possibly even a call to take up the issue in the next session instead of this year

It’s worth noting that the climate conference committee is not the only one delayed. Ones on economic development, police reform, transportation, and healthcare are similarly held up, as has the multi-billion dollar state budget. All of which is to say that there is no guarantee we’ll see these bills or even a climate bill signed into law this session. Little will change this dynamic except new grassroots or other political pressure on Beacon Hill to pass a climate bill this year.

– “Coalition Urges Mass. Lawmakers to Oppose Pro-Utility Legislative Provisions” (Michael Bates, Solar Industry Mag): [read article]


– “Study Finds Regional Pact To Reduce Transportation Pollution Could Yield Major Health Benefits” (Barbara Moran, WBUR): [read article]

– “Weymouth officials, residents want to see gas company’s emergency plan” (Jessica Trufant, Patriot Ledger): [read article]

– “Lynch: FBI To Investigate Possibility of Cyberattack At Weymouth Compressor” (Barbara Moran, WBUR Earthwhile): [read article]

– “Boston’s Mayor Proposes New Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism” (Patch): [read press release]


– “On Changemaking and Superpowers with Camila Thorndike” by Maria Virginia Olano, via Climate XChange.

– “Systemic racism subsidizes the fossil fuel economy” by Maria Virginia Olano, via Climate XChange.

– “Roxbury Is Fighting For Its Trees” by Callie Crossley, via GBH.

– “Why We Need Antiracist, Feminist Leadership On Climate And Energy featuring Dr. Jennie C. Stephens, via WAMC.

– “What we need in climate change legislation” by Jeremy McDiarmid and Deborah Donovan, via Commonwealth Magazine

– “Why it’s hard to put a price tag on plans like the Green New Deal” by Janet Nguyen, via Market Place.

– “It’s time for state support for regional transit in Worcester and beyond” by Staci Rubin, Andrea Freeman and Matt Casale, via the Worcester Telegram.

– “New York and New England Need More Clean Energy. Is Hydropower From Canada the Best Way to Get it?” by Ilana Cohen, via InsideClimate News.

– “Should We Stop Spraying For Mosquitos During The Pandemic?” by Kyla Bennett, via WBUR’s Cognoscenti.


– “New England’s Forests Are Sick. They Need More Tree Doctors.” (Marguerite Holloway & George Etheredge, NY Times): Marguerite Holloway and George Etheredge traveled to western Massachusetts to see how the warming planet is stressing trees and forests.

– “State Raises Environmental Concerns on Machine Gun Range Proposal; Public Meeting Scheduled” (Eve Zuckoff, CAI): [read article]

– “Army engineers to report on munitions search at former Hingham Naval Depot” (Ed Baker, Weymouth News): [read article]

– “Massachusetts residents urged to be on lookout for invasive spotted lanternfly” (George Graham, MassLive): [read article]

– “A Farewell To Ice Fishing? Climate Change Leads To Less Lake Ice” (Barbara Moran, WBUR): [read article]

– “Treasurer Goldberg Announces Over $20.8 Million in Grants for 36 Municipal Water Projects” (iBerkshires.com): [read press release]


– “Grid operator calls for ‘net carbon pricing’” (Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine): [read article]



– “N.H. offshore wind panel looks to catch up, collaborate with its neighbors” (David Thill, Energy News Network): [read article]


– “Chatterjee hints at FERC role for carbon pricing” (Jeremy Dillon and Arianna Skibell, E&E News): [read article] [$]


– “A Note to Our Community: Welcome to the State Climate Policy Network” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): [read article]


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

  1. “Enbridge Agrees To Pause Weymouth Compressor Station Startup”
  2. “State limits “forever chemicals” in drinking water”
  3. “’You can’t pull up your bootstraps if you don’t have boots’”

Read the full Roundup here from October 2nd, 2020 here.

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Featured Image: Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash