Rep. Paul Tucker Supports Carbon Pricing

Kudos to Rep. Paul Tucker for taking a bold stand on carbon pricing. In an age where we are looking for leadership to help us solve the problems of the climate crisis, groups like SAFE increasingly turn to our local and state elected officials. Rep. Tucker has not failed us on environmental issues and so much more.

 Putting a price on carbon benefits all

Rep. Paul Tucker (D-Salem)

August 12, 2019 Salem News

Before taking on the job of state representative, I spent 32 years as a member of the Salem police force. I know that preventing something bad from happening is better than responding after harm has already occurred.

That is one of the reasons I am a proud cosponsor of H2810, “An Act to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Promote Green Infrastructure.” Scientists everywhere are telling us the time to act on the climate crisis is now. Change is never easy, but it will be harder if we wait and allow people to suffer.

Introduced by state Rep. Jennifer Benson, D-Lunenberg, H2810 creates a carbon fee on all fossil fuels sold in the state. It returns 70% of revenues from the carbon fee to Massachusetts households and vulnerable businesses. And it invests the remaining 30% in renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation and resilience. H2810 is the perfect prevention part of the equation to accompany state Rep. Thomas Golden’s bill H3997 that, if passed, would address the impacts of the growing climatecrisis. A carbon fee is a charge on gas, oil and coal distributors for every ton of carbon dioxide their products release when burned. It requires polluters to pay for the cost of polluting the atmosphere and contributing to the global warming that is creating the climate crisis. The fee starts low and increases slowly over time, giving all of us an incentive to shift from dirty fuels to cleaner options.

Nobody wants to pay more for energy — and many people, especially low and middle income households, don’t have the ability to pay even a little bit more. That is why most of the revenues from thecarbon fee go right back to consumers. On average, low and middle income households — and all households that conserve energy— will get rebates that are the same as, or slightly

larger than, any increase in energy costs.

The remaining revenue from the carbon fee — a projected $400 to $600 million per year — will be available to cities and towns for initiatives that address the warming climate. That means the carbon fee will be paying for the infrastructure we need to move to a cleaner economy. The fee could provide money for new transit lines, community solar, renewable energy installations, and financial programs to enable tenants and homeowners to invest in housing upgrades.

H.2810 requires that 40% of investments be used for projects that benefit low and middle-income households. This is crucial, because lower income people are least able to make the transition to clean energy and are most vulnerable to the potential impacts of the climate crisis.

In addition, $16-28 million of the funds raised each year will be added to the state’s fuel assistance program. Plus, the bill provides protections for workers and loans for small businesses.

Addressing our climate crisis is a huge task. The United Nations is urging all governments to “put a price on carbon” and economists believe that carbon pricing is one of the best things we can do to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

H2810 uses a “polluter pays” model to raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year for the new energy and transportation infrastructure our state needs. I am proud to support this bill and look forward to working with my fellow legislators to get it passed this session.

Mayor Driscoll: Put a Price on Carbon

“We know that the federal government will not act.  It is up to our state leaders to show bold leadership, for our state and region, and for the country.” –Kim Driscoll and Alex Morse

 

 

Salem’s Mayor Kim Driscoll and Holyoke’s Mayor Alex Morse published a compelling op-ed in Commonwealth Magazine citing the ravages of the climate crisis on their cities. The horrors range from battered and destroyed sea walls to flooded neighborhoods to damaged infrastructure to, in Holyoke, new residents who are climate refugees who need and receive help from a caring community.

Salem and Holyoke both former  industrial  cities hosting coal-fired power plants are over 100 miles apart. One a coastal city and the other a  mid-state municipality.  The climate crisis is real for both communities.

Read what they have to say about supporting Rep. Jen Benson’s H2810 An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions:

Mayors of Salem, Holyoke Call for Carbon Fee

WE ARE THE MAYORS of Salem and Holyoke, two medium-sized Gateway Cities. Our communities are more than 100 miles apart, but both are feeling the impacts of climate change. We are experiencing severe storms, unpredictable flooding, drought, and damage to homes, businesses, roads, and infrastructure.  Climate change is disrupting city operations and straining budgets.

In Salem, a coastal city, extreme heat, extreme precipitation, sea level rise, and storm surges present the biggest challenges.  Flooding during winter storms in January 2018 was among the worst Salem has seen in over 50 years.  Ocean waters and rain-filled city streets stranded motorists and brought down power lines.  Salem’s sea level is expected to rise four feet by 2050, and the community’s critical infrastructure – its emergency power, wastewater treatment, roadways, and even its evacuation routes – is all located within flood zones.

Meanwhile, Holyoke is challenged by changing weather patterns near and far.  Holyoke has more Puerto Rican residents per capita than any American city outside of Puerto Rico.  When Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2018, 2,200 displaced families came to Holyoke and 247 children enrolled in the city’s schools.  The number of oppressively hot days continues to rise in Holyoke, as it has across the state, stressing the health of low-income and elderly residents, particularly if they cannot afford cooling.

Salem and Holyoke are fully committed to reducing our cities’ greenhouse gas emissions, but we cannot solve climate change on our own.  We need bold, state leadership.

The Massachusetts Legislature needs to act, this session, to pass H2810, An Act to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Promote Green Infrastructure.  Sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Benson of Lunenburg, the bill establishes a fee on the carbon in fossil fuels and returns most of the revenues from that fee to Massachusetts households and businesses.  It invests the remainder in local renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, and resilience.

A carbon fee is a charge on gas, oil, and coal. The fee is based on the amount of carbon dioxide these fuels emit when burned.  As this fee slowly rises over time, dirty energy becomes more expensive, and customers are encouraged to reduce their use of fossil fuels and move to cleaner energy options.

Many people, understandably, are concerned that this approach will cause the prices of gas and heating fuels to rise. However, unlike most governmental fees that disappear forever into government coffers, 70 percent of the revenues from the carbon fee will be given back to Massachusetts residents and businesses in the form of rebates. Every household will get two rebate checks a year.  People who use less energy – including the vast majority of low- and moderate-income households – will get back more in rebates than they pay in any increased fuel costs.

Every person will receive a basic rebate, then low- and moderate-income residents will get an additional amount, to protect them from increased costs. Rural households will also get an additional rebate to compensate them for the extra distances they often have to drive.

The remaining revenue from the carbon fee – an estimated $400 million in the first year and $600 million by the fifth year – will be invested in local projects that help people transition away from fossil fuels and prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change.  The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center will administer some of the funds, and municipalities can apply to develop local projects, such as community solar installations, new public transit, energy upgrades at local schools, community cooling centers, and flood control measures.

To make sure that everyone benefits, the proposed legislation requires that 40 percent of investment funds be directed to low- and middle-income households and communities with lower median incomes.  In addition, $16 million to $28 million of each year’s revenues will be added to the state’s fuel assistance program, and additional funds will be used to help workers retrain for new clean energy jobs.

We know that the federal government will not act.  It is up to our state leaders to show bold leadership, for our state and region, and for the country.

SAFE Wins Historic Salem Inc. Award

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Presented by Rep. Paul Tucker

“As part of SAFE’s (Salem Alliance for the Environment’s) work to protect the health and efficient use of resources in Salem they have been advocating, researching and pushing for understanding, accurate reporting, and repair of natural gas leaks throughout Salem.  While preservation often focuses on the visible – and what is “pretty” it is an honor to recognize the equally important efforts to maintain and repair the unseen aspects of our historic city.  With infrastructure of all kinds surpassing 100 years of service there continues to be a need for information gathering, decision-making and prioritization of funds and efforts to ensure our current resources remain serviceable.  This principle is applicable to preservation at any level.

SAFE’s work is motivated by environmental concerns, with life and health concerns the driving force.  A lesson to all preservationists that we would all be well served to consider how sustainability, functionality and resource management are connected to the care and viability of our historic cities.

We thank Salem Alliance for the Environment and Pat Gozemba who is here to accept the award.”

Bob Ackley, president of Gas Safety Inc., the man who in 2016 did so much work for Salem and for SAFE in detecting the 232 gas/methane leaks in Salem as compared with the 62 leaks acknowledged by National Grid.

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Bob Ackley of Gas Safety Inc., Pat Gozemba, Co-Chair of SAFE, and Rep. Paul Tucker.

Coastal Resiliency Forum 12.6.18, 7pm 12 Federal St., Salem, MA

Need convincing about why we should have hope as we tackle Coastal Resiliency? Michael Kimmelman shows and tells us what Rotterdam is doing. Succeeding in dealing with rising seas, “The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching.”

ROTTERDAM, the Netherlands — The wind over the canal stirred up whitecaps and rattled cafe umbrellas. Rowers strained toward a finish line and spectators hugged the shore. Henk Ovink, hawkish, wiry, head shaved, watched from a V.I.P. deck, one eye on the boats, the other, as usual, on his phone.

Mr. Ovink is the country’s globe-trotting salesman in chief for Dutch expertise on rising water and climate change. Like cheese in France or cars in Germany, climate change is a business in the Netherlands. Month in, month out, delegations from as far away as Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and New Orleans make the rounds in the port city of Rotterdam. They often end up hiring Dutch firms, which dominate the global market in high-tech engineering and water management.

That’s because from the first moment settlers in this small nation started pumping water to clear land for farms and houses, water has been the central, existential fact of life in the Netherlands, a daily matter of survival and national identity. No place in Europe is under greater threat than this waterlogged country on the edge of the Continent. Much of the nation sits below sea level and is gradually sinking. Now climate change brings the prospect of rising tides and fiercer storms. Read more

As Trump Rolls Back Environmental Regs, Coal Operations Expand

coal mining imageThe following story, authored by SAFE board member Karen Kahn, is reposted from the Nonprofit Quarterly.

Rural Action, an Appalachian Ohio nonprofit, has spent two decades working to clean up a watershed in Southeastern Ohio polluted by old coal mines. Now, the organization and its supporters are fighting the permitting of a new surface mine proposed by Oxford Mining Co.

Rural Action, in partnership with the federal and state governments, universities, and other nonprofits, has invested $9 million to date to clean up the watershed. Of that, nearly $3 million has been spent on Sunday Creek, which is directly threatened by the new mine operation.

The group’s work has had a significant impact on water quality over the years. The west branch of Sunday River Creek had no fish when the work began, and now hosts 17 different species.

At a recent public hearing, Michelle Shively, Rural Action’s Watershed coordinator, said, “We hope that the Ohio EPA and Oxford Mining Co. will take into account the tremendous investment and resulting water quality improvements that have occurred in the Sunday Creek watershed and take the necessary precautions to not endanger the biological communities and quality habitat downstream.”

Andrea Reik, a local resident who spoke at the public hearing, asked a question that must have been on many minds. “Why would we go backward? It makes no sense. It’s crazy, and we need to continue saying no.”

In the face of global climate change, Reik is asking the right question. Why continue to destroy, as she said, “precious resources” with new mining operations that would bring 100 temporary jobs to the area but further risk global collapse? Why not look to new opportunities that will grow jobs for a green energy economy, that build on the work of Rural Action to bring back a diverse, healthy watershed? Jobs in coal mining should not be the only option for the people of the region.

But that’s not the logic of the Trump administration, which campaigned on a promise to bring back coal mining jobs. It’s now working hard to dismantle regulations that make mining less profitable—probably the only reason that Oxford Mining is proposing to reopen mine operations.

One of the administration’s top goals is to roll back the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate action plan. The administration announced its plan to repeal the regulations last October and is now in the process of holding public hearings. Three of the four hearings are in coal-friendly areas of the country, but on February 28th, a hearing was held in San Francisco. According to Mother Jones, “dozens of angry Californians filed into the San Francisco Public Library” to oppose the proposal.

“The rescission [of the Clean Power Plan] is a political act to fulfill Trump’s promises to polluting industries,” said Marc Sapir, a family physician and former public health officer at the hearing. “If this EPA cared one iota about the nation’s public health and well-being, it would engage the appeals court in defending the Clean Power Plan.”

Mother Jones reports that an EPA fact sheet removed from the EPA website (along with any references to climate change) reported that the Clean Power Plan would prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children in 2030. As the proposal for a new mine in the Sunday Creek watershed makes apparent, the plan also would have reduced mine pollution in our nation’s waterways.

The residents of southeastern Ohio unfortunately won’t be able to count on the federal government to protect their waterways. The administration has already rolled back the “stream protection rule,” which was intended to protect Appalachia’s streams and rivers from being filled with coal mining debris. The EPA has also put a moratorium on the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, which expanded protections of 20 million acres of wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

These actions come on top of a mass exodus of scientists and other staff at the EPA, as the organization is revamped to prioritize profits over the rights of U.S Citizens to clean air, water, and land.

Film: TOMORROW Feb. 2&9 at 6:45 pm

Tomorrow movie poster photoJoin us on Groundhog Day in Salem, for the first of two screenings and community discussions of the award winning and hopeful documentary film, Tomorrow.  On February 2 we will watch part one, and February 9 part two.

Tomorrow depends on the human race living more sustainably.  Come and hear stories about people doing just that, today.

A free screening sponsored by Citizen’s Climate Lobby North Shore, Team Tomorrow, and SAFE.

Dates:  Watched over two succeeding Friday nights:
February 2 & February 9, from 6:45 – 8:45 pm each night (Snow date: February 16)

Venue:  First Church in Salem, UU 316 Essex Street Salem, MA
http://www.firstchurchinsalem.org

Contacts: Jeff Barz-Snell, jeffreysnell@comcast.netJim Mulloy, jcmulloy@gmail.com

 Background:
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

In 2012, “Nature” published a study led by more than 20 researchers from the top scientific institutions in the world predicting that humankind could disappear between 2040 and 2100. It also said that it could be avoided by drastically changing our way of life and take appropriate measures.

Two film makers travel the world in search of solutions that can help save the next generations. The result is Tomorrow, an inspiring documentary that presents concrete solutions implemented throughout the world by hundreds of communities.

From the US to the UK and through Finland and India, together they traveled to 10 countries to visit permaculture farms, urban agriculture projects and community-owned renewable initiatives to highlight people making a difference in the fields of food, energy, finance, democracy, and education.

Their common ideas and examples make Tomorrow one of the most essential and unexpectedly inspirational viewing experiences of our time.

TODAY, we sometimes feel powerless in front of the various crises of our times.

TODAY, we know that answers lie in a wide mobilization of the human race.

Over the course of a century, our dream of progress commonly called “the American Dream”, fundamentally changed the way we live and continues to inspire many developing countries.  We are now aware of the setbacks and limits of such development policies.  We urgently need to focus our efforts on changing our dreams before something irreversible happens to our planet.

TODAY, we need a new direction, objective… A new dream! The documentary Tomorrow sets out to showcase alternative and creative ways of viewing agriculture, economics, energy and education.

It offers constructive solutions to act on a local level to make a difference on a global level.  So far, no other documentary has gone down such an optimistic road…

TOMORROW is not just a film, it is the beginning of a movement seeking to encourage local communities around the world to change the way they live for the sake of our planet.

350 MA Releases 2017-18 Legislative Agenda

SAFE has been collaborating with 350MA and is happy to express support for this year’s legislative agenda. This year’s priorities are renewable energy, improving infrastructure to stop methane gas leaks, and stopping the expansion of gas pipelines that will carry fracked gas to coastal communities for export:

Stop the Pipeline Tax ✧ Oppose any legislative effort to restore the pipeline tax and pursue other legislative avenues to resist fossil fuel infrastructure

Make Utilities Buy More Renewables ✧ Raise the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) so that electric utilities must more rapidly increase the percentage of electricity sourced from renewables to get us on a faster track to 100% renewable electricity.

Put a Price on Carbon ✧ Levy a price on carbon pollution and redistribute the revenue back to taxpayers.

Expand Solar Energy ✧ Raise or eliminate net metering caps, restore the net metering retail rate for all project types including community and large-scale solar, and provide funding for community and low-income solar initiatives.

Fix Gas Leaks ✧ Require that consumers not pay for leaked gas, incentivizing companies to fix leaks faster.

To learn more, and see the bill names and numbers of 350 Mass priority legislation, visit 350 Massachusetts 2017-2018 Legislative Agenda (PDF).

Rotterdam Addresses Climate Impact with Innovative Infrastructure

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In a recent blog post for the Nonprofit Quarterly, SAFE board member Karen Kahn wrote about how Rotterdam, another urban industrial coastal city is addressing climate change.

Despite President Trump having pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, scientists agree that the future of our planet is in jeopardy. In many parts of the world, the effects of climate change are simply undeniable: Seas are rising, storms are getting worse, and drought is forcing millions to migrate.

A consensus is emerging that we can no longer focus solely on reducing carbon emissions in order to keep our planet habitable. Even if countries meet their targets under the Paris Agreement, the global community has not moved quickly enough to save us from environmental changes that are already disrupting populations worldwide. At this point, renewable energy strategies must be combined with adaptation and mitigation to reduce the severity of floods, droughts, and other climate change impacts around the world. (As of this writing, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, is expected to reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, with temperatures over 110 degrees for the entire week.)

Coastal cities are among the geographic areas under most immediate threat, and in many cases, it is these municipalities that are leading the way toward innovative solutions. In a recent New York Times article, Michael Kimmelman profiles the city of Rotterdam, where visionary leadership is transforming an old industrial landscape into one that is cosmopolitan, climate-resilient, and community-oriented.

Read the full article here.