Category Archives: Coastal Resiliency

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.

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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