Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette March 1, 2017
I am sitting on my porch reveling in the glorious, sunny day. It is 72 degrees. I am in my shirtsleeves, my neighbor just biked by in shorts and my friend will soon bring her 6-month-old for a walk. So I should complain?
Well, yes. Last week’s high temperatures in Boston, Buffalo and Pittsburgh broke records. Weather is not climate, for sure, and a couple of days do not global warming make. But the trend, which is climate, is ever upward.
In February, almost 4,500 daily high temperature records were broken, and the winter of 2016-2017 is on its way to beating 2015-16 as the warmest in recorded history. Arctic sea ice decreased by 9 percent, but more shockingly, Antarctic sea ice was at its smallest for January since records began, down 23 percent.
As the ice melts, the ocean surface it covered absorbs solar radiation rather than reflecting it back to space as did the white ice. This is one of those feedback loops that at a certain point incur warming independent of human-derived greenhouse gas emissions.
Yet even as we hurtle toward climate disaster, never has the federal government so belligerently denied the problem nor so aggressively repositioned to increase greenhouse gas emissions in order to foster fossil fuel company profits.
The cabinet members appointed and the bills and executive orders signed just in the first month illuminate the regime’s objective.
Scott Pruitt was narrowly confirmed to head the Environmental Protection Agency after Senate Democrats battled unsuccessfully in committee to postpone the vote till thousands of emails ordered released by a federal judge from Pruitt’s office of the Oklahoma Attorney General became available. That the nomination was shoved through without that information was a disgrace to the deliberative process. That the emails exist is a testament to corporate corruption.
First, it should be noted that Pruitt used a private email server to conduct public business, something that he denied under oath at his Senate hearing. More importantly, though, he worked “arm in arm,” according to the New York Times, with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and Koch Industries-linked groups to roll back any and all environmental regulations.
Pruitt represented their interests in the most precise manner and in return received big dividends. Not just once did Pruitt transfer corporate-written complaints about federal restrictions on their pollution directly to his official stationery.
His ghost-written appeals protested controlling the belches of a coal-fired power plant, limiting the spewing of potent greenhouse gas methane from wells on federal land, and preventing smog-causing chemical release.
His closest buddies were Devon Energy, Oklahoma Gas and Electric and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers. In return he was granted huge donations to his political campaigns, fundraisers at company expense and even the management of his reelection campaign by the Devon CEO.
As is now well known, Pruitt sued the EPA, the very agency he is now appointed to head, 14 times to prevent it from doing its job. Rachel Maddow calls him a puppet.
Even as Pruitt was being confirmed, Trump signed two of what can only be termed climate-change promotion bills. The first eliminated the requirement for US energy companies to report their payments to foreign governments in their dealings to extract fossil fuels. The bill was designed to prevent bribing of corrupt leaders for access to oil and gas (Exxon/Putin/proposed Siberian oil megadeal comes to mind).
The second reversed an Obama regulation restricting coal companies from toxic dumping in streams, a small step toward stewardship of the land they mine. Both bills made extraction and emissions easier and cheaper for big oil, gas and coal.
In late February, the administration released two executive orders. Both are focused on eliminating federal agency regulations. I am not alone in assuming they will be used to free corporations from all restraint based on public health, consumer and worker protection, and a sustainable climate. His proposed budget promises to cut funding of domestic agencies including the EPA and the Department of the Interior, even as military spending and the nuclear arsenal are expanded.
The intent is clear. Steve Bannon, Trump’s closest adviser, has admitted that their plan is to destroy domestic federal agencies. Be it by legislation, executive order, budget cuts or the likes of Pruitt, Rick Perry and Rex Tillerson, we will lose protection from corporate excess. There will be dirtier air and water, sicker workers and communities. The billionaires will be richer.
But we are being given a choice. This month, a statewide coalition of environmental groups led by Environment Massachusetts and including local Climate Action NOW, announced a legislative plan to achieve electricity powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. HD 3357 and SD 1932, submitted by state Sen. James B. Eldridge, D-Acton, and state Reps. Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge, and Sean Garballey, D-Arlington, would make the state a leader in solar and wind power and an example for the country in the fight against climate change.
Also firmly on the Massachusetts legislative agenda are viable bills for carbon pricing, grid upgrades, conservation measures and specific acts immediately to encourage wind and solar power production.
Trump has touted his actions as a job-creator, but this is a pile of alternative facts. Results are in and energy efficiency and renewable sources produce 2.5 to 9.5 times as many jobs as fossil fuels per dollar spent. Massachusetts’ course is not only the most beneficial to environment and humanity but to economic growth as well.
If this were a horse race, I would bet on little Massachusetts and all the other states that are bucking the corrupt tide. Unfortunately, it’s a race for our health and our future. All the more reason to bet the bank.
Marty Nathan, MD, is a mother and grandmother who lives in Northampton and works at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield’s North End. She is a steering committee member of Climate Action NOW.
Published in the Gazette Feb 1, 2017
Columnist Marty Nathan: Saving the world while building community
I remember the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when I gathered cans of food to store in our carport cabinets in preparation for nuclear war. We were supposed to stock our basements with water and food to consume after the bombs fell and we waited for the radiation to decrease.
Problem was, our house was small and we had no basement and thus no protection. With my 11-year-old brain, I tried to comprehend annihilation of the world as I knew it.
Now in my 60s, the feeling is eerily similar and equally unreal. We are approaching destruction of our biosphere, this time in slow motion but nonetheless terrifying. The cause this time is climate change.
The threat has ramped up dramatically since the inauguration of Donald Trump. His advisers and cabinet picks are fossil fuel company CEOs and shills who are dedicated to drilling and burning every last molecule of carbon left in the ground in order to ensure corporate profits.
This is the opposite of scientific dictates to immediately eliminate emissions to prevent geologic and climatologic feedback loops — albedo effect, melting tundra, carbon sink-filling — that will continue the process completely outside of our control.
On Jan. 28, over 600 people filled First Churches in Northampton. They came because there is rapidly growing recognition of the crisis. In the past, we could console ourselves that somebody else would fix it, but suddenly a whole lot of folks are realizing that our best resource for fighting this massive peril — the federal government —- is now openly fronting for the enemy.
What are we who love Earth and the coming human generations to do? I think we have several options that will require commitment, courage, time and energy.
Do not give up on the federal government. We must limit the damage from the present regime and fight to replace it with those not promulgating “alternative facts.” Protest the blasphemy and carnage, building a movement that is interlocked with all others suffering from Trumpism: workers, poor people, immigrants, people of color, women, children, LGBTQ people.
Support nationally important legal and regional fights. The repermitting of the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines is a disaster for all of us and we must be willing to back up the resistance of those whose homes, culture and livelihoods are affected by oil, gas and coal infrastructure.
Put on your marching shoes. On April 29, come to D.C. for the second People’s Climate March, and respond to every invitation possible fighting for climate and justice.
Begin work now for the next critical election in 2018 when we must break the stranglehold that the fossil fuel industry holds on Congress.
Since much is blocked on the federal level, though, organize locally and statewide to make Massachusetts into a model for the rest of the country in climate justice.
Join an organization that is working on what you think is important.
Push locally for rooftop and community solar and insulation, especially for low-income neighborhoods; tree-planting and care; environmentally sound zoning; expanded public transit; streets safe for pedestrians and bicycles; and schools that teach about climate change and environmental sustainability.
Be ready for direct action to prevent the building and extension of fossil fuel infrastructure. We scored resounding success blocking the Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline last year.
It’s not over, folks. We have in Sandisfield an attempt by Tennessee Gas to build a storage pipeline through pristine Otis State Forest. Destructive, dangerous and unneeded, our resources should instead be spent on conservation and the expansion of renewable energy.
Become a citizen lobbyist to focus the Massachusetts State Legislature on the most important task it has ever undertaken, creating potent laws to stop emissions while establishing a just economy. Many such laws are being introduced right now, calling for rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy while focusing the derived economic development/green jobs on so-called gateway and environmental justice communities.
Some bills restrict new pipeline building, two would create a carbon pollution fee, some divest state pension funds from fossil fuels, while others formulate funding for new green energy investment. They all need co-sponsorship by our state representatives now to become law. Contact your representative by Friday and ask them for co-sponsorship of all the bills endorsed by Climate Action NOW at https://docs.google.com/document/d/124lTZ7wEqoO7zTD-xKedS8qRLGumoMD4R90fRpFUAi8/edit.
I must repeat: This is the fight of our lives, folks. Through it we can not only literally save the world as we know it, but build community we are proud of.
Marty Nathan, MD, is a mother and grandmother who lives in Northampton and works at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield’s North End. She is a steering committee member of Climate Action NOW.
12 Point Massachusetts Climate Emergency Plan
With change imminent in national energy policy, states must assume leadership in preventing catastrophic climate disruption. Taking this emergency seriously requires a World War II scale mobilization and a broad and inclusive base of support. Particular attention must be paid to the voices of those least responsible and most affected– the Environmental Justice (EJ) communities. Massachusetts can and should play a leading role by making an emergency transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030, with policies implemented by each state agency and involving every energy sector:
- Accelerate the transition to 100% clean, renewable energy. Create and enforce a comprehensive energy plan mandating the achievement of 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030, relying mostly on solar and wind, with special support for community-based, owned, and controlled energy production.
- Require electric utilities to create resilient “smart” grids – both macro and micro.
- Require electric utilities to meet accelerated energy storage goals.
- Remove caps on solar net metering statewide.
- Restore retail net metering credit for community-shared and low-income solar.
- Require increased wind procurement to meet 2030 goal of 100% renewable energy.
- Increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to meet the 2030 100% goal.
- Prohibit new nuclear or biomass plants.
- Incorporate climate justice principles. Climate change puts Environmental Justice (EJ) communities already suffering from environmental hazards at additional risk. They are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution, and they are more vulnerable to rising temperatures and flooding from violent storms.
- Ensure EJ communities have a strong voice in all decisions concerning emissions reduction, renewable energy infrastructure, and disaster protection and recovery.
- Expand green job training, public transit and employment in EJ communities.
- Reduce fossil fuel dependence in transportation.
- Require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to plan for an electric transport system servicing Massachusetts municipalities, including rail, bus, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, & complementary bicycle infrastructure; fund it by 2018.
- Increase subsidies and incentives for carpooling and EV ownership.
- Prohibit sale of new fossil fuel powered passenger vehicles in MA by 2030. Create a buy-back program for such vehicles, & incentives to make replacements affordable.
- Require the Commonwealth to “Lead by Example” by prohibiting state and municipal purchase of fossil fuel powered passenger vehicles by 2020.
- Implement a clean fuel standard for vehicles unable to be powered by electricity.
- Reduce energy demand in building and construction.
- Require a new “Stretch Code” specifying that all new building be zero-net energy.
- Require that all appropriately sited new buildings be solar ready.
- Require energy audits before sale/rental of buildings and display of the energy label.
- Increase incentives to retrofit existing buildings to approach zero-net energy.
- Require Massachusetts to “Lead by Example” by retrofitting all Commonwealth buildings to conform to the above standards, with benchmarks for progress.
- Transition oversight of MassSave to an entity without vested interests.
- Prohibit new fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Prohibit new fossil fuel pipelines, plants, compressor stations, & export structures.
- Phase in decommissioning of fossil fuel electricity generation by 2030.
- Continue alignment of MA investments with 100% renewable energy goals, by divesting the MA pension fund from fossil fuels.
- Mandate divestment of state funds from fossil fuel companies within 5 years.
- Require reinvestment in local clean, renewable energy.
- Boost financing for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation.
- Use state funds and tax incentives to transition to 100% renewable energy.
- Create public/private financing (e.g. Green Bank) for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation projects.
- Create/expand green jobs and economic opportunity.
- Create a comprehensive plan for clean energy technology manufacturing in MA.
- Ensure job training and reemployment of displaced fossil fuel & nuclear workers.
- Ensure that state programs offering financial incentives for increasing economic opportunity prioritize small, local, green businesses.
- Accelerate fulfillment of required emissions reduction in all energy sectors. Require monitoring, with accelerated benchmarks, incentives and penalties.
- Reduce/eliminate methane emissions.
- Provide benchmarks, monitoring & penalties for methane leaks from all pipelines, compressor stations, LNG liquefaction & storage facilities. Prohibit charging customers for lost gas.
- Provide incentives to reduce agricultural and landfill emissions.
- Implement a fair carbon pollution fee and rebate program.
Implement a fair carbon pollution fee for wholesalers of fossil fuels, and rebate the fee in an equitable way to residents (especially to low-income residents) and businesses/organizations in MA.
- Expand statewide public education campaigns to mobilize public support for the rapid energy transition.
Require the Department of Energy Resources to launch a “Make it Renewable, Make it Local, Make it in Massachusetts” campaign to mobilize support for a rapid renewable energy transition, and promote sustainable living and business practices.
Click on this link to download the .PDF file: CAN12pointplan2016-dec-17
Have you heard of Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate? It’s an important part of the climate solution puzzle!
You can download or look at a clear .PDF version of this document HERE
ACTION ALERT (updated 2/7)! Push back against fossil fuel interests nationally by supporting climate action on the state level!
This is a CRUCIAL time for Massachusetts legislation.
Though we have passed the deadline for co-sponsoring House bills, legislators can sign on to Senate bills up until the time of hearing. Ask your legislators to sign on to the Senate bills endorsed by CAN NOW.
1. Find the contact information for your legislators.
Simply enter your zip code.
2. Send a letter, including the list of the bills CAN endorses. Letters are always better than emails. Add a personal note.
Send to [your representative’s name]
24 Beacon St
Boston, MA, 02133
3. Send an email.
Copy and paste the following section for your email.
Dear Representative [PUT YOUR REP NAME HERE]
Thank you very much for your past support for climate action. Climate change is accelerating faster than ever expected and our window to act is rapidly closing. With back-stepping by the federal government, it is all the more urgent that states like ours take definitive leadership on making the transition to clean, renewable energy and decreasing fossil fuel emissions. We need you to help mobilize the Massachusetts legislature to meet these challenges. I ask you to act swiftly to co-sponsor the climate bills in this package.
I ask that you personally take a leadership role in putting climate related issues front and center. I ask you to act swiftly to co-sponsor the climate bills in this package. Getting the whole package enacted will require legislators to not only co-sponsor the bills but actively work to get them enacted. Climate Action Now will be rating legislators this session to allow constituents to see how strongly their legislators support the bills in our legislative package. As my legislator, I hope you will be one of those who will get an A+.
[PUT YOUR NAME AND TOWN HERE]
Climate Action Now, WM
4. Make a phone call to follow up on your letter and email.
BONUS: Amplify! Personally ask a friend in another part of the state to do this. Forward this page to them. State action on climate is all-important now.
Thank you for TAKING ACTION! Together, we are unstoppable.
For a deeper dive into these bills, you can read the text at https://malegislature.gov/Bills
We need to call our representatives early and often starting NOW, to let them know that climate must be a top priority.
This is a CRUCIAL week for bills in the Massachusetts Statehouse. This is the beginning of the 2017-2018 legislation session, and all the new bills have been filed. Right now, we the people, who are concerned about the climate crisis, have a job to do: Ask our senators and representatives to co-sponsor 2 carbon pollution fee bills.
Putting a price on carbon (also known as “Carbon Pricing” or “Carbon Pollution Fee” is a proven way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A portion of the money is rebated to individuals. In some schemes the fee is fully rebated to individuals; in others, a portion is put to use for mass transportation, green jobs, or green infrastructure like electric vehicle filling stations.
WHAT: We each need to ask our senator and representative to CO-SPONSOR the bills.
WHEN: ASAP, The deadline for the co-sponsoring is Feb 3, so we need to send our letters & call now.
HOW: Part 1 – Send a letter. Instructions below.
HOW: Part 2- Also, please call!
Instructions for letter:
1. Get the name of your Massachusetts State Representative and State Senator. If you don’t know, find out on this page by typing in your zip code: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
2. Find out if they supported carbon pricing last year. Here is the list of representatives and senators who DID SUPPORT
3. If you found their name on the list, send them the THANKS-PLEASE-SUPPORT-AGAIN letter. Download the letter by Clicking HERE and then print it. We are thanking them for supporting the carbon pricing bills that did not pass last year, and asking them to support the new ones.
4. If the name is NOT on the list , send them the NEW-SUPPORTER letter. Download the letter by Clicking HERE. We are asking them to support the carbon pricing bills in this session
5. Write in “Dear [name]” at the top
6. sign it with your name AND address (so your rep knows that you are a constituent)
7. put in envelope and send it to
24 Beacon St
Thank you for participation in this extremely important part of the climate change solution puzzle!
For explanations of the bills, both of which include carbon pricing provisions that will help reduce the use of fossil fuels and spur growth in renewable energy sources.
Click here for info on Senator Mike Barrett’s bill, Senate Docket 1021
Click here for info on Representative Jennifer Benson’s bill, House Docket 1504
More info, including the text of the bills: http://climate-xchange.org/massachusetts-campaign/about-the-bill/
For a simple explanation of Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate, please click here to see our flyer
|Legislators who supported|
|Carbon Pricing Bill in previous session|
|Balser, Ruth B.||12||Middlesex|
|Barber, Christine P.||34||Middlesex|
|Barrett, Michael J.*||3rd Middlesex|
|Brownsberger, William N.*||2nd Middlesex and Suffolk|
|Cariddi, Gailanne M.||1||Berkshire|
|Coppinger, Edward F.||10||Suffolk|
|Creem, Cynthia S.*||1st Middlesex and Norfolk|
|Crighton, Bredon P.||11||Essex|
|Cronin, Claire D.||11||Plymouth|
|Decker, Marjorie C.||25||Middlesex|
|DiDomenico, Sal N.*||Middlesex and Suffolk|
|Donato, Paul J.||35||Middlesex|
|Donnelly, Kenneth||4th Middlesex|
|DuBois, Michelle M.||10||Plymouth|
|Eldridge, James B.*||Middlesex and Worcester|
|Garlick, Denise C.||13||Norfolk|
|Gentile, Carmine L.||13||Middlesex|
|Hanlon Peisch, Alice||14||Norfolk|
|Heroux, Paul R.||2||Bristol|
|Hunt, Daniel J.||13||Suffolk|
|Jehlen, Patricia||2nd Middlesex|
|Kafka, Louis L.||8||Norfolk|
|Keefe, Mary S.||15||Worcester|
|Kocot, Peter V.||1||Hampshire|
|Lewis, Jason||5th Middlesex|
|Livingstone, Jay D.||8||Suffolk|
|Madden, Timothy R.||Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket|
|Mahoney, John J.||13||Worcester|
|Malia, Elizabeth A.||11||Suffolk|
|Mark, Paul W.||2||Berkshire|
|Moran, Michael J.||18||Suffolk|
|Murphy, James M.||4||Norfolk|
|Pignatelli, William Smitty||4||Berkshire|
|Puppolo, Anthony Jr.||12||Hampden|
|Rogers, David M.||24||Middlesex|
|Schmid, Paul A. III||8||Bristol|
|Scibak, John W.||2||Hampshire|
|Smizik, Frank I.||15||Norfolk|
|Stanley, Thomas, M.||9||Middlesex|
|Story (Solomon Goldstein-Rose)||3||Hampshire|
|Swan, Benjamin (Bud Williams)||11||Hampden|
|Toomey, Timothy J. Jr.||26||Middlesex|
|Tosado, Jose F.||9||Hampden|
|Velis, John C.||4||Hampden|
|Wolf, Daniel A. *||Cape and Islands|
Action Alert: advocate for Carbon Pollution Pricing on Gov. Baker’s public comments for global warming solutions portal
Please use your voice as a citizen of Massachusetts to advocate for Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate. Governor Baker has set up a public comment portal to collect citizen input on how to meet emission reduction rules as set forth in the Global Warming Solutions Act.
Please do this before Dec 15, 2016.
Public comments will be entered into the public record. You may comment anonymously or use your name. Please do not use Climate Action Now for “3. Company or organization”; it’s more effective to comment as an individual citizen.
Voice your support for “carbon pollution fee and rebate as the most effective and efficient way to quickly move our economy away from fossil fuels and toward a renewable energy future.”
(You can use these words, or make your own message.)
Link to public comments portal: Click HERE
Instructions for portal: Click HERE
A more detailed sample letter: Click HERE (You can also send this complete letter to the governor’s office)
Learn more about Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate with these 2 resources:
Rising up to meet this moment
Susan Theberge, CAN Newsletter Editor
Ready or not, we are called upon to meet this moment in history. What can we draw on as sources of strength, encouragement and resiliency? We would love to hear the thoughts of our readers. To get us started I offer a few reflections.
We belong to each other
Let’s join together to protect each other from harm and create safety for those at risk. In doing so we deepen our trust and build unity across different struggles.
Care for ourselves and each other
We are in this for the long haul. We need healthy ways to cope when things feel overwhelming. And relationships that support us and our work together.
We are stronger when we join together.
History teaches us that sustained mass action is our greatest source of power. Look to those who came before us for inspiration and courage.
Be guided by our love for this earth and the sacredness of all its inhabitants
Affirm the interconnection of all life and ground all we do in the principles of non-violent action.
Welcome others into the work.
Let’s find ways to connect with people new to this work and support everyone in finding their place. We can challenge ourselves to listen more attentively, hear more deeply, and respond with more kindness and understanding.
Incorporate climate justice into all our work
Ground our work in justice, equity and the awareness that environmental justice communities are disproportionately impacted by the forces driving climate change, and are more vulnerable to and impacted by the results of climate change.
Accept leadership from those most affected
Recognizing that our views, beliefs and perceptions are conditioned by our past experience and where we stand in life, honor leadership from those most affected by climate change in any particular situation.
Fierce love will save this place.
Climate Action Now is a home for everyone who wants to be part of building a vibrant, unstoppable climate justice movement. Please join us.