State Leg. action: email to conference committee members.

As an additional action, please consider writing a Letter to the Editor or contacting or tagging the members on social media. Please see the end of this page for social media handles.

Sample Email Directly to the Conference Committee

Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov, Cynthia.Creem@masenate.gov, Patrick.OConnor@masenate.gov, Thomas.Golden@mahouse.gov, Patricia.Haddad@mahouse.gov, Bradley.Jones@mahouse.gov

Dear Chairs Barrett and Golden, Senators Creem and O’Connor, Representatives Haddad and Jones,

I live in [CITY/TOWN]____________________________________________________

I am reaching out to you about the status of climate legislation. Mass Power Forward is calling on you– the joint climate Conference Committee reconciling H.4933 and S.2500– to exclude/include the following provisions that are aligned with our core 2019-2020 priorities in the legislature’s final bill:

  • Eliminate biomass fuel from Municipal Light Plant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standard (GGES) in SECTION 15 of H.4933
  • Enact Environmental Justice as enumerated in H.4933
  • Add specific interim GHG reduction goals as in both bills
  • Increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard as in H.4933
  • Increase the amount of offshore wind to be harnessed, as in both bills

In addition there are several other important provisions to attend to:

  • Include the deadline for issuing regulations to meet the 2030 goals to be not later than 1/1/22 as in S.2500
  • Require Municipal Light Plants (MLP) to reduce their GHG) emissions as in H.4933
  • Include a Net-Zero Stretch Code as in S.2500
  • Improve building standards and energy efficiency and add members to the BBRS as in both bills
  • Update the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Mission Statement as in S.2500
  • Eliminate Net Metering Caps as in H.4933 for some arrays, and expand opportunities for solar, especially to low-income communities, as in S.2500
  • Eliminate H.4933’s language that would make solar arrays taxable
  • Establish a land use commission to develop recommendations on land use restrictions within the SMART Program as in H.4933

Thank you for your time and commitment to this work.

Social Media handles for the conference committee members

  • Tag on facebook:
  • https://www.facebook.com/pat.oconnor.399
  • https://www.facebook.com/tom.t.golden
  • https://www.facebook.com/brad.jones
  • https://www.facebook.com/SenatorMikeBarrett
  • https://www.facebook.com/cynthia.creem
  • Tweet at the conference committee members
    • @BarrettSenate
    • @cindycreem
    • @rephaddadd
    • @RepBradJones
    • @tomtipagolden

(NEW INFO 7/31!) ONE DAY ONLY! ACTION GUIDE for Thursday 7/30/2020

UPDATE JULY 31 (there is still time):

7/31 Amendment work on the climate bill is ongoing today. You can send you rep an email during the procedings to ask to co-sponsor and some of them will respond…that’s how quickly this is changing. For updates please see the Mass Power Forward LIVE document

IN A NUTSHELL: 7/30 4 pm deadline to recruit your MA State representative to sign onto important climate amendments. Sample emails, calls, social media go HERE

Mass Power Forward ACTION GUIDE: Recruit your legislator to co-sponsor late-breaking amendments. We only have to around Thursday Afternoon – GO GO GO

For Environmental Justice, 100% Renewable Energy and more

RAPID ACTION GOAL: Get your legislator to co-sponsor important amendments to the climate bill.

Urgency: Wednesday July 29th, the House released a climate bill. We will only have one day to gather co-sponsors for our amendments. The timing is hard because once the climate bill is released we have to 1) read it and see what is missing 2) activate sponsors for amendments 3) gather co-sponsors for those amendments. 

Outcomes we prioritize

  • Environmental Justice – Include communities impacted by climate change and fossil fuel pollution as participants in crafting new, equitable policy
  • 100% Renewable Energy – Set an ambitious goal to equitably reach 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2045
  • Equitable Investment in Green Infrastructure – Use mechanisms such as equitable carbon pricing or the transportation climate initiative to invest today to create the future we want

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Bill Summary
  2. How to contact your Rep
  3. The Amendment List with Numbers
  4. Sample Email
  5. Sample Call Script
  6. Sample Online Action Post
  7. Tracking- see if your legislator has co-sponsored yet
  8. What to do after you contact your Representative
  9. Background Context
  10. Live updates from Tim Cronin if you want the blow by blow
  11. Link to the Bill Language
  12.  FAQ and Help
  13. Who is Mass Power Forward?

______________________________________________________________________________

Bill Summary

On Wednesday, July 29, the Massachusetts House of Representatives released their version of the MA Senate’s Next Generation Climate bill that passed earlier this year. However, this bill is significantly different from the original Senate version. This new bill, H.4912, most closely resembles Rep. Meschino’s roadmap bill, but there are some substantial changes worth noting.

What’s included in this bill:

  • Emissions targets for 2030 and 2040, which require the state to reduce emissions by 50% and 75% below 1990 levels respectively.
  • A commitment to a statewide net zero emission target by 2050.
  • Establishes a “clean energy equity workforce and market development program” within the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
  • Creates a low-income home retrofit task force to make recommendations to the energy efficiency advisory council to increase access to energy efficiency and electrician programs for low income residents.
  • Establishes a greenhouse gas reporting standard for Municipal Light Plants (MLPs) that requires 50% non-emitting energy by 2030, 75% non-emitting energy by 2040, and net zero emissions by 2050. “Non-emitting” is broadly defined.
  • Various improvements around net metering and the SMART solar incentive program
  • Establishes a future utility grid commissions to make recommendations to better connect renewable energy and storage to the grid.

What’s missing:

  • No commitment to 100% renewable energy or changes to the RPS.
  • No inclusion of environmental justice language.
  • No commitment than monies raised by a market-based compliance mechanism (e.g. carbon pricing or TCI) will be prioritized for low income or EJ communities.

Other proposed changes:

  • Take Action Faster: This bill gives the DPU until the end of 2023 to issue regulations around the 2030 and 2040 emissions targets. We propose that this deadline be pushed up until no later than June 2022.

______________________________

How to Contact your Representatives: phone numbers, emails, social media handles

Go to the CAN page How To Contact Your Representatives for many Western MA addresses if you know the name of your representative. For the complete list, check https://malegislature.gov/search/findmylegislator

The Amendment List with Numbers – FINALIZED 5:26pm on Wednesday

For our core outcomesAmendment #Lead Sponsor
Environmental Justice#52Rep. Madaro
100% Renewable Energy 1 : Clean Electricity Implementation#31Rep. Decker
100% Renewable Energy 2: Heating and Transportation Clean Energy Transition$46Rep. Decker
Equitable Investment 1: Investing in Working & Environmental Justice Communities#56Rep. Robinson
Equitable Investment 2: Prioritizing Rebates to Massachusetts low- and moderate- income Families#6Rep. Driscoll 
For Cleaning Up the Bill as it relates to our Vision
Accelerating Emission Target Deadlines#62Rep. Sabadosa
Clarification of Indirect Emissions (landfill emissions, gas leaks, agricultural sector)#17Rep. Rogers
Indirect Emissions Analysis#81Rep. Rogers
Definition of Non-Carbon Emitting#21Rep. Erhlich

Sample Email

Sample Email

Dear Rep. ___________

As your constituent, I want to thank you for your leadership on supporting aggressive climate legislation.   I am emailing with the Mass Power Forward coalition which has 3 priorities:  environmental justice, 100% clean and renewable energy for all, and equitable investments through carbon pricing.  We urge you to co-sponsor the following amendments to H.4912 An Act setting next-generation climate policy

#52 Environmental Justice (Madaro)
#31 Clean Electricity Implementation (Decker)
#46 Heating and Transportation Clean Energy Transition (Decker)
#56 Investing in Working & Environmental Justice Communities (Robinson)
#6 Prioritizing Rebates to Massachusetts low- and moderate- income Families (Driscoll )
#62 Accelerating Emission Target Deadlines (Sabadosa)
#17 Clarification of Indirect Emissions (Rogers)
#81 Indirect Emissions Analysis (Rogers)
#21 Definition of Non-Carbon Emitting (Ehrlich)

Sincerely, [Name]    

Sample Call Script

Sample Call Script

Hi,My name is [ first name], and I live in [town/city].   I am with a broad coalition of environmental groups called Mass Power Forward and we’re calling about climate legislation, specifically, H.4912 An Act setting next-generation climate policy and amendments that have been filed to that bill.   I sent an email to your office with the amendment numbers that achieve our goals of Environmental Justice, 100% clean and renewable energy for all, and creating equitable investments through carbon pricing.   

***If you are talking to staff:  If there is a staff email that I can CC, please let me know what it is so I can forward the list.***

As a constituent, I ask that you co-sponsor these important climate justice amendments.  
Have a nice day/night!  

Sample Social Media Post

Sample Social Media Post

Twitter and facebook are excellent alternative ways to get your Representative’s attention! Especially if their voicemail is full.
First, Find your legislator’s social media accounts here: https://www.progressivemass.com/ma_legislators_contact
Second, using the sample email/call script- write a short post from the heart and tag your legislator.
Dear @ legislator Please co-sponsor amendments to the climate bill for Environmental Justice, 100% renewable energy and equitable investment. These amendments are core to the future we need now.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What to do after you contact your Representative

  1. Feel free to tell someone on the Planning Team if something notable happened
    1. Claire Miller – Claire@communityactionworks.org
    2. Jacob Stern – jacob.stern@sierraclub.org 
    3. Laura Wagner – lwagner@uumassaction.org 
    4. Cabell Eames – cabell@betterfutureproject.org 
  2. Follow up!!! We have so little time. 
  3. Check back to see if they do it, and if they do- THANK THEM

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

TRACKER

As we get confirmation of co-sponsorship, we will update here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17I0gsacafFTxYXYmU3cScAoPzsO7jMuHq9lpbqqfT6w/edit#gid=365374171

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Context: We live in a stark climate reality that threatens us with unprecedented weather events like flooding and droughts.  The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change latest report indicates we have only 12 years to drastically upgrade our energy policies if we wish to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  Many of our communities, especially those with a majority of people of color and low incomes, have had to bear the brunt of decades of fossil fuel pollution and are most at risk from climate change.  We call upon you to prevent unnecessary pollution-related illness and death in these communities and to endorse just and equitable solutions to fix our dirty energy system. NOW is the time for bold, decisive action from our state legislature!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Live updates from Tim Cronin if you want the blow by blow

Click here to follow live updates with ClimateXChange’s Tim Cronin

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CfQsZpEacoMASYjmm0L9YlelHrvLBOX5YQQ8–2nphE/edit

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Link to the bill language (that we are trying to amend!)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JbFnwh2Qt8BLKgjAfUWFPckHOYYmfgxlTINTC0SWZbE/edit

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

FAQ and HELP

If you need help, feel free to email Claire Miller at claire@communityactionworks.org or text at 781-775-1429

Q: I heard they extended the session, will they still vote on this right now?

A: Yes.

Q: What do I do if their voicemail is full?

A: Get creative! Tweet at them. Facebook messege them!

Q: What happens after this?

A: it will go into a conference committee with the Senate version where they reconcile the two versions. THIS version, the House one, will be the “floor”- so we want to raise it as to be as good as possible. After that it will almost 99% likely pass, and go to Baker’s desk. These short hours are THE last real moment grassroots can change the outcome.

______________________

Who is Mass Power Forward?

Mass Power Forward is a coalition of environmental leaders, community development organizations, clean energy businesses, faith groups, neighborhood health and safety advocates, and Massachusetts families fighting for clean, affordable, reliable energy and a thriving economy.

Some tips for making Zoom work for you:

Audio:

  • If you hover over the bottom left corner of the zoom window, you can choose between calling in on your phone or using computer audio. If your internet isn’t very strong, your phone audio may be better.
  • Please keep yourself muted except when you are speaking. On a computer, click on the audio icon on the lower left of your screen to mute and unmute. On a landline phone, hit * 6 to mute and unmute. 

Video:

  • To turn your webcam on, hover over the lower left corner of the zoom window and click on “Start Video.” You do need a webcam for this to work! 
  • If your internet isn’t very strong, turning your camera off may make your connection more stable.

View:

  • In the upper right corner of the zoom window, try clicking back and forth between gallery and speaker view. Use whichever you like – this only affects your own screen!

Participation:

  • You can ‘raise your hand’ to ask a question. On a computer, click the participants icon at the bottom of your screen and click raise hand in the dialog box.  If you are on a landline phone, hit *9 to raise/lower your hand.
  • When doing a go-around (like introductions), after you have spoken, call on someone else to speak. Everyone’s view of the group is not the same, so we can’t say ‘pass to the person on your left’.
  • You can also use the chat window to share links, comments, etc.

If you would like to test this out before the meeting, click join a test meeting to familiarize yourself with Zoom.

We recommend that you join us through a computer or tablet.  If you must use a phone, please download the Zoom app, to improve your ability to participate.

Holyoke – Columbia Gas Resistance

Start Here: Climate Action 101

Good news: one person CAN do something about the climate crisis. One of the most effective actions is to spread the word!

Our task at this moment, spring 2019, is to rapidly build public backing for necessary immediate and aggressive solutions. The coming months are crucial to elevating climate to an important voter issue in the next election.

Start by understanding the basic problem, the basic reasons that global warming has been allowed to proceed, and the basic solutions.

Then talk to your family, friends, co-workers.

Clear & sharable Q & A from the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/climate/what-is-climate-change.html

GREEN NEW DEAL information and actions

[3/21/19: page in progress…more to come]

Green New Deal: Actions and Resources

We need a nation-wide Green New Deal, and we need Massachusetts Green New Deal. for our state. This page will be updated with organizing opportunities and actions. Last update: 4/1/2019

!ACTION: Senator Markey is getting intense pushback about sponsoring the Green New Deal. Call his office to voice your support:
413-785-4610 / 202-224-2742

!ACTION: APRIL 22 Green New Deal Forum focusing on local and state applications on Earth Day, April 22 in Northampton. Earlier in the day, Earth Dance downtown will preceed a march from downtown to the high school.

2 pm – 5 pm Earth Dance starting in front of First Churches Northampton, 129 Main Street (in the sanctuary in case of inclement weather). An afternoon of music, dance and theater promoting principles of the Green New Deal.

5 pm – 6 pm People’s March for Climate Action from First Churches to Northampton High School, 380 Elm St. The public is invited to carry signs, banners and flags in support of the Green New Deal.

6 pm – 7:30 pm Green New Deal Forum in the Northampton High School auditorium. Students from the NHS Environmental Club and the Northampton Sunrise Hub will present the principles of the Green New Deal and question local political leaders. Guests, including US Congressman James McGovern, State Senator Jo Comerford, Mayor David Narkewicz and Community Action Pioneer Valley Director Clare Higgins, will speak about possibilities for the Green New Deal at all levels of our government. This forum is part of the Sunrise Road to a Green New Deal Tour.



Green New Deal Policy Group: The New Consensus




Read the Official Congressional Resolution

https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text

The GND & The case against incremental climate policy

“The only way Democrats can hope to pass climate legislation is by radically shaking up the status quo balance of powers. ” 3/28/19 David Roberts, Vox
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/3/28/18283514/green-new-deal-climate-policy


Podcast with the Policy Lead at New Consensus


Great interview with Rhianna Gunn-Wright, the policy lead at The New Consensus


Climate Justice and the Green New Deal


This article is very interesting and talks a lot about the justice piece of the GND :http://harvardpolitics.com/united-states/time-for-climate-justice/

Green New Deal for Massachusetts

Press Advisory: Constituents of Congressman McGovern encourage him to support the ‘Green New Deal’

PRESS ADVISORY PRESS ADVISORY PRESS ADVISORY

From: Climate Action Now

Date: November 20, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Constituents of Congressman McGovern encourage him to support the ‘Green New Deal’”

South Deerfield, MA. Constituents of Congressman James McGovern concerned about the threat of catastrophic climate change will join him in as he walks through the rain and snow in Monte’s March IX. The Congressman is on the second day of the walk to end hunger from Springfield to Greenfield on behalf of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The climate group, including Valley young people, will ask him to support the creation of a federal Green New Deal that would quickly convert our nation’s energy system from fossil fuels to conservation and renewable sources. They will ask him to sign on to the Resolution to create a House Select Committee on a Green New Deal. They will join him in South Deerfield near Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory around 3 pm today.

Today has been designated the Day of Action for the Green New Deal, sponsored by the national youth-based Sunrise Movement. Recently members of the group sat in in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office demanding immediate action to stop greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change that has already brought megastorms to the Gulf of Mexico and uncontrolled fires in California. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined them and together the group proposed that Pelosi, if elected Speaker in the new Congress in January, establish the House Select Committee on a Green New Deal to formulate a Plan for a Green New Deal to be implemented beginning in January, 2020.

A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has lent extreme urgency to the effort to stop burning fossil fuels. It stated that, to avoid the catastrophic climate change coincident with a rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius, emissions must be reduced by 40% by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. At present, the Trump Administration’s policies are founded on denial of the threat of climate change and are geared to expanding the burning of coal, oil and gas, thus increasing carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Today is Congressman McGovern’s birthday, and the climate marchers will wish him a happy birthday, support his walk against hunger and encourage him to continue a long history of championing environmental efforts by signing on to the Resolution.

Column: Marty Nathan: Our planet has a fever

Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette August 02, 2018

I really want to write good news. Honestly and personally, I hate heat and I hate suffering. And I hate rants. I want to write joyously about how what we are doing in cutting greenhouse gas emissions is decreasing CO2 and methane levels and fulfilling the biospheric need for a stable climate.

No such luck. The reality is that the planet itself is hot and suffering and beginning to rant, if we will listen. Last month, a Washington Post weather story began with the sentence, “From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and Canada to the scorching Middle East to Southern California, numerous locations in the Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever recorded.” Fifty-four people died in the heat wave in Canada, and the thermometer hit 90 degrees in Northern Siberia on July 5, 40 degrees above normal. That same day, temperatures seem to have risen to the highest ever recorded on the African continent, at 124 degrees in Ouargla, Algeria. The heat surpassed or tied all-time records across North America and in Europe: from Los Angeles to Denver, Burlington and Montreal, and across the Atlantic to cities in Scotland and Ireland. Quriyat, Oman, posted the highest daily low temperature ever recorded on June 28: 109 degrees.

Our planet has a fever. The inconvenient truth is that global warming and climate chaos are happening. Heat and drought have resulted in fire seasons throughout the American West that now start three months earlier than in the past. But again, it is a world-wide phenomenon: flames are incinerating towns and forests from Redding, Calif., to Athens to northern Sweden above the Arctic Circle, each fire producing more emissions and more heat to compound the problem.

Probably our ancestors’ greatest accomplishment, the one that contributed most uniquely to the survival and dominance of our species, was control of fire. Now the effort to stop the burning of carbon to carbon dioxide poses the greatest challenge to the sustainability of life.

In the face of the crisis, leaders continue to sort themselves. There are the “climate change-makers” (ironic, since they are also the deniers). Donald Trump and his administration just last week announced a full-mouth tooth extraction from the Endangered Species Act, paving the way for more deforestation, mining, building and drilling while he ushers threatened animals and plants into extinction. For the first time since the Act’s adoption in 1973, economic impact (read profit) is to be weighed in decisions to protect species at risk, and states, who have closer ties to eager developers and drillers, will have a say in the process. Local author Elizabeth Kolbert wrote The Sixth Extinction, which reviews humanity’s startlingly rapid destruction of the planet’s flora and fauna, equivalent to only five previous known episodes of species collapse in all of Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history. Responding to Trump’s plan, she quoted Congressman Raul Grijalva, who described it as “part of the endless special favors the White House and Department of the Interior are willing to do for their industry friends.”

Grijalva is right of course. The announcement and coordinated acts by Congressional Republicans augmented the news that the administration overall has drastically cut penalties for corporate wrongdoing compared to the Obama Administration. The worst decrease in fines not surprisingly came from the Environmental Protection Agency, which lowered them by a stunning 94 percent, from $29 billion in 2016 to a measly $1.9 billion in 2017. So even if regulations are broken under the new, hobbled Endangered Species Act, violators have little to fear.

The opposition to Trump’s plundering sports an admirable lineup, though. Recently Massachusetts’ Maura Healey joined six other state attorneys general demanding that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the first time consider the environmental costs, including climate change, of building new gas pipelines. FERC is responsible for licensing new fossil fuel infrastructure, and to call it a pushover is to be kind. Since 1999, FERC has approved around 400 natural gas pipeline projects and rejected only two. In that time enough pipeline has been built to deliver nearly twice the average daily consumption of natural gas in the U.S., 40 billion cubic feet greater even than the peak demand per day during the 2014 “Polar Vortex” cold snap. “By determining public benefit without regard to adverse environmental impacts and without consideration of the climate harm caused by a project, the Commission is failing to meet its obligations…,” AG Healey stated in her comments.

So, Trump wants corporations to have control over saving species and the AGs want those who breathe air and desire a livable climate to have a say in building fossil fuel infrastructure of questionable value.

Then there is the case of Massachusetts House Democratic leadership and Speaker Robert Deleo. They had the opportunity this session to join the Senate in legislating crucial greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Yet so far, they have refused to step up to the plate. The Senate passed a clean energy bill that would: rapidly increase the renewable energy portion of our state’s electricity supply (the Renewable Portfolio Standard or RPS) sufficient to reach 100 percent by 2050; remove the net metering caps that are halting solar projects and killing our solar industry; provide the full benefits of solar energy to low income and renting families; increase offshore wind production by 5,000 MW and establish environmental justice principles in law. In return, the House offered up… a northingburger. What finally came out of the Conference Committee was a pitiful compromise: only a 2 percent rise per year in the RPS for 10 years starting in 2020; the possibility of 1600 MW more offshore wind power; and no action on the caps to net metering or the barriers to low-income people needing solar energy. Moreover, final bill incentivized the burning of trash as an energy source, allowing it to continue polluting Massachusetts air, usually in the poorest neighborhoods.

A group of us spent quite a bit of volunteer time last week calling voters to ask that they urge their state representatives to demand action in the Conference Committee. More than once, I heard comments like, “You mean my progressive state doesn’t have these things already?! What’s going on?”

What’s going on is a fight to the death, literally, to protect vested interests and their status quo against the survival needs of future generations.

There are a lot more of us than there are of them. How do we sort out?

Marty Nathan MD is a mostly-retired Family Practitioner at Baystate Brightwood Health Center, a mother and a grandmother. She is a steering committee member of Climate Action Now and the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. She offers many thanks to Adele Franks for her information and editing.

Climate change, Hurricane Maria and neglect in Puerto Rico

Published on MassLive.com  Posted Aug 8

Click here for story with photos https://www.masslive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2018/08/climate_change_maria_and_negle.html

By Marty Nathan and Jomarie Ramirez

For two years we have known that the world is hotter than it has been for the last 115,000 years. The planet’s mean temperature has risen by 0.9 degrees Centigrade (1.6 degrees Fahrenheit) almost half way to the two-degree C upper limit that triggers geological feedback loops on a grand scale – melting of the Arctic tundra and sea ice, forest destruction and death of microscopic marine life – processes that will by themselves spew huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

This summer we have seen and felt the heat. We in Springfield were scorched by near-100-degree temperatures early in the summer. The south-central US – Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana – saw heat indices approaching 115 degrees this week and nearly 35 million Americans carried out their lives under excessive heat warnings. Most alarming, there were fires in Sweden, where temperatures went above 90 degrees north of the Arctic Circle.

There are no reputable scientists today that dispute either climate change or its human cause. The drilling and burning of fossil fuels have been putting unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air and creating a blanket over the Earth that prevents heat escape into space.

Now the results are rolling in, faster than was earlier predicted, and those left “holding the bag”, suffering for fossil fuel company profits, are the people who can least afford it and are least responsible.

Rising temperatures are breeding more powerful storms. Before 2017, New Orleans was the poster child for climate injustice. After Hurricane Katrina hit the City in 2004 it was the inhabitants of the Lower Ninth Ward, mostly black, very poor and unprotected, who died when the levies broke. Prevention of the flooding, evacuation of the victims and then cleanup and rebuilding were all neglected because these were the people with the least political and economic clout in the region. Over 1,800 people died and tens of thousands were scattered across the country, our first internal climate refugees.

There should never be competition for misery, but the story of Katrina has now been replaced in extent of devastation and neglect by that of the people of Puerto Rico battered and killed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

When Donald Trump met with Governor Ricardo Rossello in San Juan after the storm, he threw paper towels at men and women without shelter, and congratulated FEMA and his own administration for a death toll reported at that time as “only sixteen”.

But as the months went on and on and tarps were not delivered, floods were not drained, electricity, roads and buildings were not repaired, people continued to die from the effects of the storm. Climate change gave Maria its force but neglect by the United States government caused the deaths from heat, unclean water and lack of phone service, oxygen, refrigeration, medicines, transportation, and adequate food. A Harvard study in June estimated that there were 4,645 deaths attributable to the damage caused by the storm unrepaired by a disaster relief effort that was too little too late.

The blatant inadequacy of federal response was documented by other investigators from Politico who compared the efforts in Texas after the 2017 Hurricane Harvey with those that met Maria. They found that “the Trump administration — and the president himself — responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico. FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston.”

* It took six days from Hurricane Harvey to get more than 70 helicopters above the Texas coast delivering emergency supplies and saving lives, but over three weeks to fly the same number of helicopters over Puerto Rico.

* Nine days after each hurricane FEMA had approved $142 million for Harvey victims but only $6.2 million for Maria victims. Three times as many FEMA personnel had arrived, and they had delivered three times as many meals, twice as much water, and four times as many tarps in Houston as in Puerto Rico.

* It took just ten days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster aid for Texas compared with forty-three days for the Island.

There are arguments that the relief efforts in Puerto Rico were hampered by its geography as an island and its already-impoverished infrastructure crumbling further because of the austerity imposed by financial crisis. But we are talking about a country, the United States, that could deliver “Shock and Awe” half-way around the world if it wants to engage in war. And most Puerto Ricans would argue that the financial crisis was largely a product of unfair deals made with US banks by corrupt officials, leaving the Island deeply in debt and having to sacrifice its educational, medical and power infrastructure to its colonial financiers on the mainland to pay the debt.

The results? The Island has suffered mass out-migration, with more than 135,000 having left the Island by March and a half million expected to have moved to the mainland by 2019 due to the effects of the storm. Those who arrived in the US impoverished and desperate are now facing eviction from the motels and hotels where they were sheltered without jobs, family or other options.

On the other hand, rich speculators working with local officials are exploiting the financial desperation of those left whose businesses, farms and jobs have been disrupted by the storm. They are closing schools and medical facilities, privatizing electricity for corporate profit, and buying up land dirt cheap to create, as one journalist dubbed it, “A Playground for the Privileged”. In June there were 55,000 homes in foreclosure and developers are replacing them with luxury homes and hotels for tourists.

This is the new face of climate injustice: lives lost and families made refugees while their homes are replaced by golf courses and pools for the rich. Climate change brings moral challenges. Are we up to them?

Marty Nathan, MD, is an almost-retired family physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center and a member of Springfield Climate Justice Coalition.
Jomarie Ramirez is a long-time resident and activist in Springfield who recently returned from visiting her family in Puerto Rico.

Columnist Marty Nathan: Baker ineffective governor in climate crisis

Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My husband is rightfully proud of himself. He is an anthropologist in the process of retiring from Smith College after a distinguished career of research, writing and teaching about African pastoral nomads, people in the dryland north of Kenya who move from place to place herding their goats, cattle and camels.

He has presented his material and led discussions in conferences all around the world, from Dubrovnik to Ulaanbaatar.

With the climate crisis, we increasingly have felt the need to cut down on traveling, particularly that requiring airplane flight. We made the hard choice not to visit our daughter and her first child born in Bangkok four years ago and got some flak from friends and family about it.

But world travel was recently underlined as a threat to the environment for belching greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Tourism has been found to produce around four times the emissions previously estimated, due both to an explosion in world travel and inclusion in the calculations of the overspending, overeating and hotel use of travelers. Not unexpectedly, the United States is number one in tourism emissions, but the Chinese are competing as their population becomes richer.

Air flight is so voraciously fossil-fuel consumptive that a single person’s round-trip flight from San Francisco to New York can create almost one-fifth of that average individual’s annual carbon footprint.

There need to be systemic fixes to halt the damage. Carbon should be priced for jet fuels to raise prices to capture the externalized costs of flight (think asthma, cardiovascular disease and climate change) with which the burning of fossil fuels burdens our society. We should fight for it.

However, that would be a federal action and — just as we must figure out ways to sidestep all the other crimes of commission and omission of the present regime — we are forced to act directly here. To fly should not be automatic but should be a well-considered choice after reviewing all the options.

My husband decided that, rather than flying to Brazil to give a 15-minute presentation, Skyping was a better option, despite the lure of the rain forest and Latin culture. There is a website for folks like him — climate scientists, activists and regular people — who won’t fly or fly less at https://noflyclimatesci.org/.

Beyond individual efforts, municipalities are increasingly taking on the load of effecting carbon-emissions cuts. We in the upper Valley have witnessed the visionary actions of the Northampton City Council’s 100 percent renewable energy resolution and Amherst Town Meeting’s zero net energy building ordinance. The former commits all energy-related decisions made by Northampton to weighing the goal of achieving our power from renewable generation. It allows us to pursue community choice energy in a coalition with Amherst and Pelham that can select our electricity supply from cleaner sources.

The Amherst ordinance has the force of law, requiring all new municipal structures to create as much energy as they consume, a huge but not impossible task.

Some may give this a ho-hum: The northern Valley is always doing these outlandishly moral things. But on Friday, Mayor DomenicSarno of Springfield made a welcome announcement long sought by residents and concerned neighbors unified in the Springfield Climate Justice.

Almost four years ago, letter-writing, marching and council-meeting speakouts had brought forth a climate justice resolution voted into effect unanimously by the City Council. It authorized a sustainability plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the city, develop the green economy and provide resiliency to climate change particularly for the most vulnerable poor neighborhoods. The plan was written with a goal of an 80 percent emissions reduction in the city by 2050. But no interim guidelines were adopted that would truly allow that goal to be reached and the mayor did not budget staff to implement it. It looked to most observers like one more study destined to gather dust on the shelves of City Hall archives. (Or to crinkle in the heat of the coming decades.)

Then, on Friday, the mayor announced that a full-time sustainability officer would be hired, and reasonable and ambitious interim goals would be adopted. This affects all of us. Springfield is the largest city and thus the largest polluter in western Massachusetts. This will make our children healthier while fighting climate change.

Going up a government level, the news is not so good. Despite Charlie Baker’s ad naming him a “clean energy champion for Massachusetts” who is “leading the charge to reduce carbon emissions,” neither Baker nor House leadership have done what should have been done this legislative session to advance full funding of public transit, adequately lift the net metering cap to incentivize rooftop solar generation, sufficiently raise the renewable portfolio standard to rapidly increase the percentage of electricity generated from clean sources, or pass a fair price on carbon in Massachusetts.

All were possible this legislative session, but Baker did nothing to make them happen. The ad is simply a lie. Baker is timid and protective of the status quo, not the governor we need in a time of climate crisis.

Hopefully, Scott Pruitt will drown in the corrupt swamp that he has created at the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, and a new Congress will take on the necessary tasks in Washington in January. Until then, and until the end of this legislative session, keep those calls to House leadership coming in.

Demand a just climate agenda for the state while we work to implement the progressive municipal plans of western Massachusetts. And rethink that next trip.

Dr. Marty Nathan lives in Northampton and is a physician at BaystateBrightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW and drinks coffee with 2degreesatgreenneighbors.earth. She may be reached at martygjf@comcast.net.

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