Category: Archived Posts

RESPECT: Reforming Energy System Planning for Equity and Climate Transformation

RESPECT: Reforming Energy System Planning for Equity and Climate Transformation

(H 755/ S 2091)

Representative Blais/Senator Comerford

A priority bill for Climate Action Now

This bill addresses the conflict of interest in the utility planning process in which the utilities conduct long-range planning for the distribution systems that they own and operate at a profit for their investors.  

The bill, if passed into law, would create a Department of Energy Transformation Planning within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to lead energy system planning and ensure it is aligned with state goals to address climate pollution, further environmental justice, and lower consumer costs.  

What you can do to support this bill

It is really important to show support for Senator Comerford and Representative Blais’ bill because it requires the state of Massachusetts to take responsibility for long term planning of utility services rather than having the utilities in charge of that planning.  


We urge you to submit written testimony using the template below

[YOUR ADDRESS]

[DATE]                  

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE)

Senate Chair, Senator Michael J. Barrett

House Chair, Representative Jeffrey Roy

24 Beacon St., Room 109-D

Boston, MA, 02133

As submitted by email to Abigail.Kuhn@masenate.gov  and 

JointCommittee.Utilities&Energy@malegislature.gov

Dear Co-Chairs Senator Barrett and Representative Roy:  

As a member of Climate Action Now, Western Massachusetts I am writing in support of H.755/S.2091, An Act Reforming Energy System Planning for Equity and Climate Transformation, sponsored by Senator Jo Comerford and Representative Natalie Blais. 

[Insert comments here about why acting on climate change is important to you].

The bill mentioned above addresses the conflict of interest in the utility planning process in which the utilities conduct long-range planning for the distribution systems that they own and operate at a profit for their investors.  The bill creates instead a Department of Energy Transformation Planning within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to lead energy system planning and ensure it is aligned with state goals to address climate pollution, further environmental justice, and lower consumer costs. 

This shift in responsibility for long-term planning would allow the state to focus on greenhouse gas reduction goals, meaningful public input, and environmental justice impacts.  This would in turn permit the utilities to focus on operating reliable distribution systems and serving their customers and investors.

    Sincerely, 

    [Your Name]

How to submit your testimony

Email your testimony to: 

 Abigail.Kuhn@masenate.gov and

 JointCommittee.Utilities&Energy@malegislature.gov   

 Copy your legislators as well as

 Jo.Comerford@masenate.gov  and

 Natalie.Blais@mahouse.gov     

The subject line of the email should be “H.755/S.2091, Member Climate Action Now, in Support”.


Hearing for the bill

The bill will be heard by the legislature’s joint committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) on September 20th at 1 pm and again on September 21st at 10 AM. Click on the links below for information about the hearings.

https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4669

https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4577

Stop the Springfield-Longmeadow Pipeline 

Social Media Toolkit

The Springfield and Longmeadow communities have joined together to fight back against the proposed Springfield-Longmeadow Eversource pipeline because it is unhealthy, dangerous, climate-changing, costly, and unnecessary. 

We just received great news this week: the MA Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Rebecca Tepper, decided that Eversource’s Draft Environmental Impact Report did not meet MEPA requirements! This means Eversource has to do a lot more work, outreach, and analysis before submitting a supplemental report.

Secretary Tepper explicitly mentioned the many comments and 6000 petition signatures she received in opposition to this project, and the very important environmental justice concerns raised by so many people and organizations. Now it’s time to celebrate, thank the secretary for her decision, and prepare for what comes next!

Go here for actions you can take right now!  And thanks to Mireille from Slingshot for creating this toolkit!

Post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media platform using the sample language below:

Thank you @EEASecretary for ruling that @EversourceMA’s Draft Env Impact Report for their unnecessary and unhealthy fracked gas pipeline does not comply! We appreciate your commitment to #EnvironmentalJustice.

#NoEversourcePipeline

After hundreds of comment co-signers and thousands of petition signatures, we got great news: @EEASecretary ruled that the Draft Env Impact Report for @EversourceMA’s fracked gas pipeline does not comply! Thank you Secretary Tepper for your leadership in #EnvironmentalJustice.

BIG NEWS: @EversourceMA’s fracked gas pipeline Draft Env Impact Report does not comply!

Thank you to our many allies and partners for their tireless work, and thank you @EEASecretary for your leadership in #EnvironmentalJustice.

We will keep pushing on to #StopTheSLP

Key pieces to include in your post: 

One or both of these main hashtags: 

#NoSpringfieldLongmeadowPipeline

#StopTheSLP

Any of these supplementary hashtags:

#PeopleOverProfit

#NoEversourcePipeline

#DontSacrificeSpringfield

#Environment

#ClimateAction

#Sustainability

#Pipeline

Tag SCJC so we can retweet! @SCJC413

Tag Eversource’s Social Media Accounts

Twitter: @EversourceMA 

Facebook: @EversourceMA

Instagram: @EversourceEnergy

Retweet, like, comment on & share other posts you see with these hashtags

 Statement from Springfield Climate Justice Coalition

 

On Monday, July 17, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Rebecca Tepper, determined that Eversource Energy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report for a proposed gas pipeline running from Longmeadow to Springfield does not comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and its regulations. 

Therefore, Eversource must do additional analysis and conduct meaningful outreach in the community before submitting a supplemental report.

Springfield Climate Justice Coalition’s response to Secretary Tepper’s determination 

“The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) is thrilled with Secretary Tepper’s response to Eversource which reinforces the importance of environmental justice. In her ruling, Secretary Tepper explicitly underlined the concerns SCJC raised in our comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report : public health considerations were not taken into account, impacts on environmental justice communities were disregarded, and alternatives to fossil fuel infrastructure were not meaningfully considered. The Secretary demonstrated that she is truly hearing frontline communities and weighing their voices in her decision-making. 

SCJC commends the administration for this thoughtful and science-based response, and looks forward to engaging in every step of the regulatory process around this unhealthy, unnecessary, and costly project.

We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from individuals and organizations across Western Mass and the entire Commonwealth. This demonstrated once again that when people join together to speak out against injustice, our voices will be heard.”

 Detailed information regarding the Secretary’s ruling is below

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, a diverse coalition of community, social, civic, and public health organizations, faith based groups, and businesses,​ is celebrating an important victory in its campaign to stop Eversource Gas from building a new gas expansion project in Springfield. This proposed project, which includes a new 200 psi high-pressure 16” pipeline main and expansion of an existing regulator station within Springfield, would run through many Environmental Justice neighborhoods and would impose yet another inequitable environmental burden on a city already targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries.

On Monday, July 17, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Rebecca Tepper, determined that Eversource Energy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released on July 14th,

“does not adequately and properly comply with MEPA and its implementing regulations. The Proponent  (Eversource Energy) should prepare a Supplemental DEIR (SDEIR) with the additional analysis… including a supplemental alternatives analysis and other information which was to have been provided in the DEIR.”( p.1)

MEPA is the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The MEPA review process provides meaningful opportunities for public review of potential environmental impacts of projects for which certain actions by state agencies, such as issuing permits, are required.

The Secretary further stated that

“The purpose of the DEIR for any project is to provide sufficient information to analyze and support a selection of a Preferred Alternative that will avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts to the maximum extent feasible. For the reasons stated above, the DEIR has not provided an adequate alternatives analysis, and has not fully justified dismissal of the “No Build” Alternative or other non-pipeline alternatives.” (p. 7)

Secretary Tepper highlighted the massive opposition to this project in Springfield and across the Commonwealth and the environmental justice issues raised by proposing to build new dirty energy facilities in Springfield.

“Several comment letters, including a petition signed by approximately 6,000 individuals and organizations, strongly advocate for exploration of further alternatives to the project to support a “just transition to a clean and green energy future,” and note the potential for disproportionate adverse impacts on EJ populations who may have to bear the burden of additional fossil fuel infrastructure in their communities.” (p.6- 7)

Bolstering SCJC’s claim that Eversource’s proposed pipeline is unnecessary and again reinforcing the environmental injustice of this proposal, Secretary Tepper stated that

“the DEIR has not fully justified the purpose and need for the project, and does not explain why the risk of outage was determined to be unacceptably high at this location so as to warrant immediate action, as compared to other areas with aged infrastructure throughout the Proponent’s statewide distribution network.” 

“Given the location of the project within EJ populations, the SDEIR should discuss how and why this location was chosen for infrastructure upgrades, and whether the presence of EJ and other vulnerable populations was considered as a factor in site selection.” (p.16)

Eversource proposed to expand dirty energy infrastructure at a time when farmers in Western Massachusetts are grappling with massive crop failures due to torrential climate change fueled rainstorms, as toddlers in Phoenix burn their feet on sidewalks with temperatures as high as 116 degrees F and as vast portions of the United States face toxic smoke choking our lungs due to historic fires raging in Canadian forests. Yet Eversource Energy failed to address the climate costs of this unnecessary and toxic pipeline proposal. As stated by Secretary Tepper

“In addition, the DEIR did not address other items in the Scope, including a quantitative estimate of the potential increase in gas supply that may result from the project and associated impacts, including increased GHG emissions. The DEIR has failed to provide full justification for dismissing non-pipeline alternatives to the project, and has not shown why a “hybrid” scenario of combining shorter term redundancy solutions (such as use of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquified natural gas (LNG) to meet winter peak demand), combined with a longer term transition to other fuel sources, may not be a feasible option.”

Media Contacts

Cathy Kristofferson  978-204-3940

Susan Theberge 413-575-7345  

Naia Tenerowicz: 303-906-3848 

Quotes: 

“This proposed pipeline would run through many Environmental Justice neighborhoods in Springfield and would impose yet another inequitable environmental burden on a city already targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries. Additionally, the cost of at least $65 million gets passed on to ratepayers, who will increasingly be the poor, those least able to pay to transition off gas”, stated Naia Tenerowicz, a lead organizer with Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. 

“In addition to the existential threat of climate change/chaos that would be increased by Eversource Energy’s proposed project if approved, this gas expansion project would exacerbate child health and environmental justice problems in Springfield” said Susan Theberge, co-founder of climate Action Now. 

“We applaud Secretary Tepper agreeing with our assessment that Eversource did not provide adequate alternative analysis nor justification for dismissing none-pipe solutions for their perceived project need,” said Cathy Kristofferson of the Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast. “The gas companies cannot continue expanding their distribution systems if we hope to meet our emission reduction mandates.”

(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.

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