Category: Environment

Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial to be Restored through Unique Partnership

Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined representatives from National Park Service, Friends of the Public Garden and the Museum of African American History on the Boston Common Friday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding committing to jointly restore the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial.

Situated inside the Common on the corner of Beacon and Park streets, the bas-relief memorial created by venerable American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens will undergo a $2.8 million restoration in 2019, including a complete rehabilitation of its bronze sculpture. Portions of the park will be cordoned off and closed to the public during the five- to six-month construction period, officials said.

The memorial was installed in 1897 to commemorate Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th – the first regiment of black troops recruited from the North to fight for their freedom in the Civil War.  On May 28, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts infantry made its way for Beaufort, S.C., where it became part of the X Corps commanded by Major General David Hunter. Afterwards, the 54th took part in operations in Charleston, S.C. including the Battle of Grimball’s Landing on July 16, 1863 and the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.

 

During the latter battle, the 54th and other Union regiments waged a frontal assault against Fort Wager, which resulted in the death of Shaw and 20 other members of the infantry while 125 were injured and another 102 reported missing (and presumed dead). And upon returning home, members of the 54th faced racial intolerance despite having served their country so valiantly.

Marita Rivero, the museum’s executive director, recalled how Harriet Tubman, a leading abolitionist who escaped slavery to become the most celebrated “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, met troops from the 54th when their steamship landed in South Carolina and served them breakfast.

Michael Creasey, NPS superintendent, said the Shaw Monument is widely regarded as not only one of Saint-Gauden’s masterpieces, but also as one of the most important monuments in the U.S.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has announced plans to devise a new Master Plan for the Common, juxtaposed the State House, located directly behind the monument, where he began his political career as a state representative as the son of immigrants in 1997, with the infantryman represented in the monument marching down Beacon Street, whom he credits for paving his eventual path to City Hall.

Besides restoring this monument, Walsh announced plans for memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta Scott on the Common and in Roxbury, a memorial to victims of the slave trade in Faneuil Hall and monuments honoring African-American culture in Dorchester and Roxbury.

Other elected officials on hand for the document signing included State Reps. Jay Livingstone, Byron Rushing and Chynah Tyler, as well as City Councilors Ed Flynn and Josh Zakim.

Meanwhile, Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends, said the group plans to use the monument restoration to launch programming and a community dialogue and programming surrounding race relations in the city set to launch this fall.

“The project is an opportunity to engage the community through programming that will explore race, freedom and justice,” Vizza said, “and it couldn’t come at a more tumultuous time in our country’s history.”

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy Conference Report

As we wrap up yet another legislative session, my office has worked to provide recaps on the vast array of subject areas that I have worked on and voted on in the Chamber. Below is an overview of the energy legislation conference report which worked out the differences between the house’s energy legislation and the senate’s energy legislation

H.4857 – An Act to advance clean energy

  • Establishes the requirement of utilities and municipal aggregates to jointly prepare an “energy efficiency investment plan.” [similar to House legislation]
  • Creates an annual increase of 2% for the Renewable Portfolio Standard by January 2020.
  • Establishes a Clean Peak Standard to incentivize electricity generation at times when the grid is at its highest demand and therefore most vulnerable to reliability issues. It is designed to incentivize installation of renewable resources in conjunction with storage systems to ensure that the Commonwealth will not only be increasing its overall usage of renewable sources of electricity through the RPS program, but that those resources can be utilized to provide energy at periods of high-demand to resuce reliance on natural gas and other non-renewable resources that typically get deployed during high-demand periods.
  • Requires DPU to develop regulations requiring gas companies to annually report how much gas is lost and where those leaks are.
  • Establishes an energy storage target of 1000 Megawatt hours by December 31, 2025; includes a feasibility study for a mobile emergency battery storage system for emergency response to extreme weather events or outages.
  • Creates a study of necessity, cost, and benefits of requiring electricity distribution companies to procure 1,600 MW of additional offshore wind capacity, beyond the 2016 requirements, by 2035.

RPS – I worked with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus to organize behind Representative Kay Khan’s amendment #29 to increase the RPS increases to 3% year. I was disappointed that the amendment was not adopted.

Gas Pipelines – I was proud to co-sponsor a number of amendments filed by my colleagues to address the issue of pervasive and environmentally destructive pipelines in Massachusetts. Representative Kulik filed Amendments 11, 12, & 13 to address these issues by prohibiting a pipeline tax on electric ratepayers, establishing standards for approval of gas capacity contracts, and guaranteeing public intervention rights at the Department of Public Utilities. I was disappointed that these were not included in the final version.

Environmental Justice I was pleased that Representative Vincent filed the environmental justice amendment, Amendment 24, similar to a piece of legislation that I co-sponsored. This would establish an Environmental Justice advisory council to provide recommendations to the Baker administration. Again, I wish that the measure was included in the final bill.

Gas Leaks – I was happy to co-sponsor Amendment 15 by Representative Barber. This amendment instructs DPU to establish uniform standards for gas companies to identify and measure lost and unaccounted for gas by location, quality, and source. It also allows DPU to grant regulatory waivers to allow gas companies to develop innovative projects to reduce lost and unaccounted for gas. I am pleased to report that the amendment was adopted as written.

 

To read the full text of the conference report, click here.

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy Legislation

190th Session Wrap Up: Energy Legislation

As we wrap up yet another legislative session, my office has worked to provide recaps on the vast array of subject areas that I have worked on and voted on in the Chamber. Below is an overview of the energy legislation that the House voted on July 12, 2018. We voted on a total of four pieces of legislation and passed all four. 

The bills did not contain everything that I wanted, but it moved the ball forward.  Now there is a House and Senate Conference Committee formed to resolve differences (and hopefully improve the final product).  The end of the session is quickly approaching.  I hope that these bills (with potential improvements through the conference committee) will help Massachusetts reach its clean energy goals.

UPDATE (7/31/18): To read a summary of the Conference Committee Report (Final Version), click here. 

H.4738 – An Act to increase renewable energy and reduce high-cost peak hours

Topic: Renewable Portfolio Standard
Summary: This bill increases the renewable energy standard annual rate increase from 1% to 2% by July 31, 2019 and reduces the high-cost peak hours, which could result in substantial savings.  Increasing the state’s renewable portfolio standard has been a top priority of mine.  The renewable portfolio standard is the percentage of renewable energy from new sources that energy companies are required to buy or produce.  It is currently at 13% and that percentage increases 1% per year.  It is key to Massachusetts achieving substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Notes:

RPS – I worked with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus to organize behind Representative Kay Khan’s amendment #29 to increase the RPS increases to 3% year. I was disappointed that the amendment was not adopted.  Because of our efforts, though, the increase from 1% to 2% was shifted from December 31, 2020 to July 31, 2019.

Gas Pipelines – I was proud to co-sponsor a number of amendments filed by my colleagues to address the issue of pervasive and environmentally destructive pipelines in Massachusetts. Representative Kulik filed Amendments 11, 12, & 13 to address these issues by prohibiting a pipeline tax on electric ratepayers, establishing standards for approval of gas capacity contracts, and guaranteeing public intervention rights at the Department of Public Utilities. I was disappointed that these were not included in the final version.

Environmental Justice I was pleased that Representative Vincent filed the environmental justice amendment, Amendment 24, similar to a piece of legislation that I co-sponsored. This would establish an Environmental Justice advisory council to provide recommendations to the Baker administration. Again, I wish that the measure was included in the final bill. There is still pending legislation that accomplishes the same purpose as this Amendment that I will continue to support.

 To read the full text of the bill, click here.

H.4737 – An Act relative to expanding resource efficiency in the commonwealth

Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill creates energy and water efficiency standards for 10 new products in the Massachusetts General Laws under the Massachusetts Appliance Efficiency Act. The standards were derived from EPA Energy Star and WaterSense standards as well as California’s efficiency standards. The bill states that none of the included products may be sold in the state after January 1, 2020 unless they meet these new standards. Massachusetts is a nation and international leader regarding energy efficiency and this bill provides the opportunity to continue to hold that position.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

H. 4739 – An Act to improve grid resiliency through energy storage

Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill established the Energy Storage Innovation Research Institute within the MA Clean Energy Center as well as an energy storage testing facility that will serve as a resource for companies developing energy storage systems.  It instructs the Department of Energy Resources to study the use of mobile storage technology for emergency response to extreme weather events or power outages. Finally, the legislation mandates that distribution companies must file an annual System Resiliency Report with the DPU.  Improving energy storage is key to fully taking advantage of renewable sources, such as solar.  I hope this bill encourage further development of this technology.
Notes:

Gas Leaks – I was happy to co-sponsor Amendment 15 by Representative Barber. This amendment instructs DPU to establish uniform standards for gas companies to identify and measure lost and unaccounted for gas by location, quality, and source. It also allows DPU to grant regulatory waivers to allow gas companies to develop innovative projects to reduce lost and unaccounted for gas. I am pleased to report that the amendment was adopted as written.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

H.4749 – An Act relative to energy efficiency

Topic: Energy Efficiency
Summary: This bill expands the types of efficiency programs that can be included in the “electric efficiency investment plan” and the “natural gas efficiency investment plan” under current regulations. It also changes the formula by which the cost-effectiveness of the programs is calculated.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.