BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– No movement last week on Next-Gen Roadmap bill (Tim Cronin): Last week passed with no action on the Next Generation Roadmap bill (S.9), the climate bill originally passed last session and vetoed by the Governor. Lawmakers were largely focused on the passage of joint rules in the House, and on the first-ever Covid-19 oversight hearing held on Thursday. Senate and House negotiators are currently deciding on a number of amendments to the bill (S.13), which were sent to the legislature when the Governor vetoed the most recent version.
Of interest is which of the Governor’s amendments the legislature will ultimately accept, and which it will reject. It seems certain that some amendments to the local net zero stretch code will be accepted, with advocates like MCAN calling for acceptance of some amendments but rejection of others. Another area of interest is whether the legislature holds the line on an emissions target of 50% reductions by 2030, instead of the 45% proposed by Baker, and if they will send back a bill that has sector-by-sector sublimits, which Baker also opposes.
– Lawmakers file over 6,500 bills, here are some top climate bills to watch (Tim Cronin): Last Friday (2/19) legislators in both chambers rushed to file the last of over 6,500 bills that will be considered this session. Among them were a number of bills relating to climate, energy, and the environment. Here are a few to watch this session:
– Environmental justice: A number of bills are being backed by prominent environmental justice groups in the state. These include a policy proposed by Sen Jehlen, Rep Barber and Rep Connolly focused on reducing air quality impacts from transportation pollution (SD.1742/HD.2696). Another from Rep Madaro and Sen Boncore seeks to change how siting decisions of energy projects in EJ communities are made (SD.1418/HD.3679). A third proposal is focused on allowing EJ and other communities to sue local or state government over discriminatory policies and was filed by Rep Meschino, Rep Madaro, and Sen DiDomenico (SD.1893/HD.1968).
– Housing emissions: A bill crafted by the Mass Renews Coalition and filed by Rep Robinson, Rep LeBoeuf and Sen Pacheco is focused on creating thousands of jobs for people to retrofit a million homes in Massachusetts by 2032 SD.2102/HD.3338. Another bill filed by Rep Higgins and Rep Kushmerek establishes a housing retrofit program for people living in Gateway Cities and smaller communities (HD.3029).
– Offshore wind: Multiple bills seek to expand offshore wind in Massachusetts. One set is filed by Rep Fernandes and Sen Cyr (HD.3983/SD.2276). Another filed by Rep Golden and Sen Cyr includes dedicated investments for port infrastructure in the state (HD.1920/SD.1596).
– 100% renewables bill: Rep Decker and Rep Garballey refiled their 100% renewable energy bill, this time with Sen Boncore joining as the Senate sponsor. The bill has been renamed the 100% Clean Act, and also includes a focus on heating and transportation emissions (SD.2205/HD.3551).
– Closing the state’s polluter loophole & making climate investments: Another focus of this session will be efforts to close the state’s polluter loophole. Currently, only fossil fuel importers in the electric sector are held accountable for indirect damage to air quality and the environment (through a pollution fee). Two bills seek to expand existing state law to cover all fossil fuels in this way, and so closing this pollution loophole.
One is a bill by Sen Barrett that closes the loophole by 2028 (SD.2477). The bill allows for a mixture of consumer rebates and investments, with exact spending decisions made by the Governor.
The other, the Green Future Act, was filed by Rep Driscoll and seeks to close the loophole by 2025 (HD.1972). This bill also includes a green dividend for low-income vulnerable families and new local aid for municipalities. It then invests the rest in climate change investments in EJ communities and in state-wide green infrastructure.
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– “Baker’s $175m regulatory gift to biomass” (David Talbot, Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– Climate Change-Fueled Flooding Poses Significant Risk to MA (Christian Morris): A new report, authored by the First Street Foundation, finds that by 2050, over 50,000 Massachusetts homes will face an increased risk of flood damages. The estimated damages could reach $316 million — a 36% increase from today’s averages — as most homes are not structurally equipped to cope with flooding at this scale. Nationally, the number of homes with severe flood risk will top 4.3 million by 2050 as sea-level rise and heightened storm severity, both fueled by climate change, will be detrimental to coastal communities. While there is an urgent need to curb planet-warming emissions, states should also be implementing safeguards for vulnerable populations and preserving natural climate solutions, like wetlands, that can help buffer against sea-level rise and storm surges [read more].
– “MAP: The Massachusetts Toxic Waste Sites in Flood Zones” (Chris Gloninger & Amy O’Kruk, NBC 10 Boston): [read the article]
– “Northampton Now Has A Plan To Reach Carbon Neutrality” (Paul Tuthill, WAMC): [read the article]
– “Climate advocates stress role of Berkshires, downplay Baker’s concerns with bill” (Christian Metzger, Boston University News Service): [read the article]
– “Barnstable County climate change plan wins assembly and community approval” (Doug FraserCape Cod Times): [read the article]
– Environmental injustice occurs in East Boston (Christian Morris): This week, a highly contentious electric substation in the East Boston neighborhood was unanimously approved by the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB). The approval of the substation was a tremendous blow to environmental advocates and community members who had been fighting for years in opposition of the station, which would only add to the environmental burdens of the community. East Boston, a state-designated environmental justice community, is situated in the close proximity to Logan Airport — which exposes residents to toxic air pollution — and also houses most of the region’s jet fuel and heating oil. Environmental justice advocates and community groups plan to appeal the decision, as well as look into possible civil rights violations that took place during the siting process. [read more]
– “Activists Urge Gov. Baker To Reverse Energy Rules That Boost Biomass” (Paul Tuthill, WAMC): [read the article]
– “In Texas, Solutions First Require Facts” by Gus Haffner, via Climate XChange.
– “Don’t view Texas as an isolated event” by Paul F. Levy, via Commonwealth Magazine
OUR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT
– “Hamilton becomes first Mass. town to mandate composting” (Janelle Nanos, Boston Globe): [read the article]
THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT
– “State auditor refers alleged misuse of funds, other allegations against local river group to inspector general” (Alana Melanson, Lowell Sun): [read the article]
– “Environmental Lawsuit Targets Barnstable Sewage Treatment Plant” (Eve Zuckoff, CAI): [read the article]
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– “Energy And A Changing Climate: New England Clean Energy Supplier Says Learn From Texas Disaster” (Jacob Wycoff, CBS Boston): [read the article]
– “SCPN Spotlight: Kofi Boone On The Importance of Community-led Design in Creating Just and Livable Cities” (Ava Gallo, Climate XChange): [read the article]
– “Liam Garvey, ELM’s Development Manager, named one of Irish Echo’s 40 Under 40” [read more]
CLIMATE ON CAMPUS
– “To maximize emission cuts, this Boston campus gets its power from the Midwest” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): [read the article]
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
– “Sobering science shows world is woefully behind on Paris climate goals” (Ben German, Axios): [read the article]
Last week’s edition of The Roundup misspelled Reverend Mariama White-Hammond’s first name. We apologize for our error and have issued an apology. (P.S. Autocorrect is not always your friend!)
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from the previous weeks:
- $10 billion ‘Green Future Act’ put forward to fund climate action, create green jobs
- “Baker takes more conciliatory tone on climate change bill”
- Sen. Markey, Rep. Pressley join activists to launch Mass Renews Coalition
Read the full Roundup here from February 19th, 2021 here.