Category Archives: legislation

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.

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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.

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).

SJC nixes ‘pipeline tax’/Says Baker administration order violated intent of earlier laws

Ratepayers will not have not pay a special tax so that new natural gas pipelines can be built in Massachusetts.

From Bruce Mohl (Editor, CommonWealth Magazine) —

THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT ruled on Wednesday that the Baker administration can not authorize the state’s electric utilities to tap their ratepayers for the money to finance a new natural gas pipeline into the region…

A new pipeline was expected to bring more cheap gas into the region and reduce electric prices, but opponents said a new pipeline would only increase the region’s over-reliance on a fossil fuel that is contributing to global warming…

The ruling means efforts to build a new natural gas pipeline into the region are effectively dead, although pipeline backers have said they will find another way to get the job done…

Attorney General Maura Healey joined the plaintiffs in opposing the DPU order. In a statement, she said “we know from our 2015 electric reliability study that there are cleaner and more affordable options for meeting our energy needs. The court’s decision makes clear that if pipeline developers want to build new projects in this state, they will need to find a source of financing other than electric ratepayers’ wallets.”

Read more.

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One of the ads against the pipeline tax. From www.NoCompressor.com

“Gas Pipelines and Salem’s Water Supply,” Parts I and II, are now on YouTube

Go to SAFE’s YouTube channel to watch the recording of the June 28th event.

Video published on Jul 9, 2016

Avoiding Flint – Protecting the Climate
Sponsored by SAFE

Part I (0 to 32 minute marker)
Introductions by Jeff Barz-Snell, Co-Chair of SAFE
“The Voice of the River,” by Wayne Castonguay (Executive Director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association)

Part II (32 minute marker to 1 hour and 44 minute marker)
“Glyphosate 101: What is this stuff & how does it behave in the environment?” by Erin Bennett, PhD, (Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, University of Windsor)
“Update on Gas Pipelines,” by Cathy Kristofferson (Liaison for Stop Northeast Energy Direct: StopNED) and Paula Terrasi (also with StopNED)

Ends with a question-and-answer period.

Go directly to “Gas Pipelines and Salem’s Water Supply,” Parts I and II.

for facebook gas pipelines and Salem's water supply
The Flint, Michigan water crisis

From the Mass. Climate Action Network: the Energy Omnibus Bill is in the House TODAY

[Below are detailed ideas on what to ask for in the bill, and a link to find out who your Mass. elected officials are.]

——————-

Massachusetts has been a national leader on clean energy,  but now are at a crossroads: we are poised to invest billions of dollars to replace retiring power plants and make energy choices that will shape our future.

Comprehensive energy policy is now advancing through the state legislature. Please urge your elected officials to invest in clean energy like wind and solar, and to ban any public financing of fracked gas pipelines!

Will you contact your respresentative and senator today?

When you call, meet with, or email your Representative and Senator, here is what you can say:

“I want to urge you to strengthen clean energy provisions in the House energy bill, H4336 – an Act Relative to Energy Diversity. Please work to pass an energy bill that reduces our reliance on imported gas and harnesses our state’s abundant renewable energy resources like wind and solar. The energy bill should:

  1. Stop the “pipeline tax.” Ratepayers should not foot the bill for new fracked gas pipelines. The cost and risk to consumers and the environment are too great and the legislature has a role to play in protecting the public by banning this practice. Please amend this legislation to head off the DPU’s plan to charge electric ratepayers for gas pipelines.
  2. Be bold with offshore wind: Legislation should establish long-term contracts for at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy. The current bill calls for 1200 megawatts – a good start, but increasing this will allow our state to grow wind jobs and capture a cost-saving economy of scale.
  3. Accelerate the Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase 2% per year: Maryland, California and Hawaii have all set ambitious RPS targets. To meet cuts the scientists say we must make in our climate change causing pollution, we can and should do the same. Please increase the RPS and accelerate the growth of local renewable power and the growth of clean energy jobs.
  4. Restore low-income and community solar: To ensure all communities can access solar power, the legislature should restore compensation for low-income and community solar projects.

Thank you for your support of clean energy, and please urge your colleagues to support these provisions.”

If you don’t know who your elected official is, you can find out here. Once you are ready to call, you can call them directly or you can call the state house switchboard at (617) 722-2000. And once you call, please let me know what your Representative and Senator says. It is super helpful to helping us strategize!
[T]hanks,

Carol Oldham, Executive Director [carololdham@massclimateaction.net]
Massachusetts Climate Action Network
http://www.massclimateaction.net/

carol oldham MCAN

Moulton to host Q&A at ‘Merchants of Doubt’ film

Film focuses on efforts to discredit climate change, other issues

Almost every seat was filled at the National Park Service Visitors Center last night, for a screening of the film, Merchants of Doubt (the story referred to above ran in the Salem News on May 5th). The film showed how the struggle to expose the tobacco industry’s practice of hiring “experts” to discredit the dangers of smoking is happening all over again with climate change. However, that battle took 50 years, and we don’t have the luxury of that many decades this time around, according to James Hansen and other scientists focused on the hard science of what is happening to our atmosphere.

Here is a YouTube clip of the question-and-answer session with Congressman Moulton, filmed by SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen. The Salem News article that ran on the 5th before the screening can be read here.

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Congressman Seth Moulton