Letter: Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee
Below is a letter that Jay submitted to the Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee.
Below is a letter that Jay submitted to the Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Wednesday, more than 30 student activists from seven campuses around the state joined Environment Massachusetts and MASSPIRG students to advocate for a 100 percent renewable energy future. Students met with over 20 legislators at the State House to support legislation that would set a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for Massachusetts.
As an Environment Massachusetts Direct Outreach intern, I had been planning this student lobby day for the last three months. I had set up and confirmed meetings with state representatives, reached out to student organizations and department heads across the state, put together informational packets for both the students and legislators — all in the name of clean energy. And it absolutely paid off.
When we arrived at the State House, students began to head to meetings of the legislators in their district. I started the day attending meetings with Sen. Brownsberger’s chief of staff and Rep. Livingstone. Initially, I was nervous — I had never directly engaged with senators or representatives before, and I thought to myself, “Will these legislators actually take me seriously?” Coming out of those meetings, I felt a new wave of accomplishment and inspiration. It was pleasantly surprising to hear how supportive my representatives were of clean energy, and their plans to continue implementing it in legislation.
BU has a wide variety of environmentally-focused organizations on campus, as well as clubs that include the environment as one of the many issues they focus on. Last December, the Boston University Board of Trustees approved a Climate Action Plan, which included extremely ambitious clean energy solutions. BU has committed to purchasing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, while also working toward reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2040.
While BU is on the right track to sustainability, Massachusetts as a whole needs to do much more, and at a much faster speed to achieve a safe and sustainable future. Our generation has the most to lose from the health and climate impacts of fossil fuels, so it is critical that we urge our state leaders to commit to 100 percent renewable energy and accelerate our progress toward that goal.
Momentum is building for decisive climate action and ambitious renewable energy leadership. Along with BU, several campuses and communities across the state are stepping up to embrace a visionary goal of 100 percent renewable energy. Seven cities and towns, from Amherst to Cambridge, have already committed to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. MassPIRG students and Environment Massachusetts student activists have been organizing for bold clean energy plans on campuses around the state, and now they are pushing for statewide legislation.
But there is good news: Massachusetts has just taken a big step toward 100 percent renewable energy when a Senate committee signed a clean energy bill.
The Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, led by Chairman Marc Pacheco, released legislation that would put Massachusetts on a path to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 and power other sectors of the economy, like heating and transportation, with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The bill, entitled “An Act to promote a clean energy future,” is the first major piece of clean energy legislation to move forward in the 2017-2018 legislative session.
The Senate global warming committee’s bill aims to address obstacles to clean energy development and accelerate the growth of solar, wind, and energy efficiency. The bill includes most of the provisions of the 100 percent renewable energy act, filed by Senator Eldridge, last January.
This winter, Massachusetts’ coastal communities experienced record high tides and unprecedented flooding, underscoring the ways that climate change is already affecting our communities and the impacts we can expect to see in the future, unless we move quickly to reduce carbon pollution. According to a recent report, sea levels could rise seven to 10 feet in the Boston area by the end of the century if global warming continues on its current trajectory. BU’s own Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering, the new state-of-the-art research center, was created with rising sea levels in mind, housing the mechanical and electrical necessities for the building to run on the second and third floor instead of the basement. While it’s smart to prepare for the worst, why not also try to prevent the worst?
We need to go beyond incremental progress and embrace a vision of 100 percent renewable energy. We have the opportunity to tackle the climate crisis while building a healthier, greener future and a strong economy. Bills like “An Act to promote a clean energy future” and the 100 percent renewable energy act will help us do just that.
During the meetings with representatives, students also shared the findings of Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center’s new report with state legislators. The report, “Wind Power to Spare: The Enormous Energy Potential of Atlantic Offshore Wind,” finds that Massachusetts could produce more energy from offshore wind than any other state.
According to the report, Massachusetts’ offshore wind potential is equivalent to more than 19 times the state’s annual electricity consumption. If all heating and transportation in Massachusetts were converted from fossil fuels to electric power, offshore wind could still produce eight times as much energy as the Commonwealth consumes each year. So it’s not a question of if we will power Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy, it’s a question of when. Offshore wind will play a critical role in our clean, renewable future. The sooner we can tap into our offshore wind potential, the better off we’ll be.
In August of 2016, Gov. Charlie Baker committed Massachusetts to purchasing 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind. After the passage of this bill, several other states adopted similar measures in their efforts to commit to renewable energy resources. Make no mistake, when Massachusetts makes a step toward progressiveness, other states will follow.
Massachusetts should get back to first place for renewable energy and fulfill our potential. We will continue raising our voices to call for a future where our environment is protected, our communities are safe, our air is healthy and our state is leading in renewable energy technology. A transition 100 percent clean energy is crucial in leading our country toward a sustainable, healthier future for us all.
BOSTON – A local legislator is defending the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-based Sea Grant College Program, which could lose funding as part of proposed Trump Administration budget cuts.
Barnstable, Dukes, Nantucket State Representative Dylan Fernandes co-sponsored a resolution which passed through the House that urges level funding for the program which began in 1966.
The network of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the country promotes sustainable economic development and oceanic conservation.
“The Sea Grant Program has helped our communities guard against natural disasters, promote our blue economy and develop our oceanic resources in a sustainable way,” said Fernandes.
“The program has been an indispensable asset to our region and eliminating it is unacceptable.”
The resolution was introduced with State Rep. Jay Livingstone, whose district is home to the Sea Grant College Program housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Woods Hole Sea Grant program’s history traces back to 1971 and has since worked with towns to build sustainable aquaculture programs, promote coastal resiliency and educate the public on environmental issues.
An initial budget proposal from the Trump Administration last month would completely eliminate the program.
Fernandes said the program generates about $142 million in economic activity each year.
A copy of the language used in the resolution will be sent to all the members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation and the White House Office of Budget and Management.
The Charlesgate Alliance is energized and optimistic as the spring equinox approaches, according to a press release from the group established with the goal of piecing back together a forgotten Boston neighborhood that abuts the Back Bay and Fenway and runs adjacent to Kenmore Square and was lost more than half a century ago to construction of the Bowker Overpass.
And building on this growing momentum, it will hold another public meeting in Room 545 of a BU building at 545 Bay State Road on April 9 at 7 p.m., with representatives from Somerville’s Landing Studios on hand to present their latest designs. Light refreshments will also be served.
“We want as much public participation and feedback at that meeting as possible because both Landing Studio, and [the Alliance] are doing our best to develop these designs in a manner that will serve the public interest,” wrote Parker James, who co-founded the Alliance last in February of 2017 with neighbor Pam Beale. “Please attend and let us know what you think and want.”
Meanwhile, James extended the Alliance’s gratitude to Sen. Will Brownsberger; Reps. Jay Livingstone and Byron Rushing, and City Councilor Josh Zakim.
“The ongoing support and practical advice we receive from these individuals is valuable beyond description, and we will never forget their contributions to our effort,” James wrote. “We would also like to thank the following for their invaluable effort, advice, and support: Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, who is our greatest ally; Patrice Kish of [the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation,] who is a national leader in historic parks and an expert on Olmsted’s designs; Fran Gershwin of the MMOC, a tireless advocate for water quality improvements in the Muddy River basin; and others who are too numerous to name at the moment.”
While the Alliance has yet to sign a memorandum of understanding, James said both DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) “have been very forthcoming and seem willing to partner and collaborate with us in [these] efforts.”
James wrote, “We have very high hopes that we can develop a formal partnership with them to ultimately realize a tenable, community-led solution for this long-neglected part of the city. Our gratitude goes out to all of our supporters, especially to our Leadership group, who contribute so much of themselves to this effort. Anyone can join our group at any level of interest, although the Leadership group is the best way to get involved actively.”
Leadership meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the first day of each month at the ENC’s Shattuck Visitor Center at 125 Fenway. No R.S.V.P. is necessary.