Category: Archived Posts

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.

Once again our collective advocacy on biomass has made a real difference!

S2136  (Amendment #34) has been adopted as part of the Senate Climate Bill, S2829

If adopted by the House and eventually signed by the Governor, woody biomass will no longer qualify as a “non-carbon emitting” fuel source for Municipal Light Plants (MLPs), thereby preventing them from using rate-payer-funded clean energy dollars to purchase polluting biomass power. Now we need to focus on the House!

Please call your MA Representative and urge them to reach out directly to Chairman Roy and Chairman Michlewitz who are working on the legislation now and ask that our top biomass priorities (below) be included directly, or as amendments, in the House climate bill.  

  1. SUPPORT H.3210 (Rep. Ramos), An Act to remove woody biomass from the greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants

H3210 would close the “biomass loophole” for municipal light plants (MLPs).  Because the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) does not apply to MLPs, incentives remain for developers to build and operate wood-burning power plants in Massachusetts, or to purchase biomass energy from other New England states.  The MLP Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard (GGES) includes carbon-emitting biomass as an eligible “non-carbon emitting source” starting January 1, 2026.  H.3210 would remove this clean energy subsidy eligibility for toxic woody biomass, and has already been adopted by the Senate.

  1. SUPPORT H.3211 (Rep. Ramos), An Act limiting the eligibility of woody biomass as an alternative energy supply. 

H.3211 would exclude large and intermediate-sized wood heating units from qualifying for credits through the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). Public health advocates have long raised concerns about air pollution from wood-burning stoves and furnaces, which are the major source of health-harming PM2.5 emissions in Massachusetts. Both H.3210 and H.3211 implement the biomass provisions in Governor Healey’s campaign platform to “end subsidies for forest bioenergy for electricity and commercial-scale heat.”  Ten states, including Massachusetts, recently sued the EPA over their ineffective testing and certification standards for residential wood stoves. 

  1. OPPOSE Sections 8 and 22 in H.4503, An Act relative to clean energy generation

This bill may serve as the “anchor” for the new House climate bill, and it includes very BAD biomass language which would take the Commonwealth in the opposite direction. 

Section 8 would dramatically increase subsidies for wood heating in our clean energy programs. The House proposal to give wood-burning stoves and furnaces twice as many credits through the APS as clean technologies like heat pumps or solar hot water heaters must be rejected. Even with emissions controls, wood burning is highly polluting. In addition, we oppose Section 22 which cancels a required study of the health and climate impacts of biomass energy.  The Legislature directed that the Healey Administration complete this study by March 2023.

Summary:  Please urge your legislators to support and incorporate language from H.3210 and H.3211 in any House climate legislation, and reject Sections 8 and 22 as proposed in H.4503. 

With appreciation from the Stop Toxic Biomass Campaign

Keep Up the Heat on Biomass!

Thanks to everyone’s advocacy the biomass legislation has been filed as amendments to the newly released Senate climate bill, S2829.    

Earlier this week Senator Gomez also filed both biomass bills as amendments #34 and #35 to S2829, An Act upgrading the grid and protecting ratepayers.  What better way to protect ratepayers than to stop subsidizing polluting biomass with our clean energy dollars?

Please call your Senator today, tomorrow and even Tuesday if you are unable to call before then and urge them to vote to end subsidies for toxic biomass by voting “yes” on amendments #34 and #35. 

Toxic biomass makes our communities and our planet sick. You can learn more about these bills and our biomass campaign at the No Toxic Biomass campaign website

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Senator Gomez, the chief sponsor of biomass bills S2136 and S2137, organized a sign-on letter opposing clean-energy ratepayer subsidies being used for polluting woody biomass. The text of the letter is below.

June 19, 2024

Hon. Michael Barrett

Chair, Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy

Massachusetts Senate

24 Beacon St., Room 109-D

Boston, MA 02133

Re: Removing subsidies for woody biomass energy in proposed climate legislation

Dear Chairman Barrett:

We respectfully request favorable action on two important pieces of legislation currently pending

before the committee: S.2136 and S.2137. These measures advance the Legislature’s goals of

protecting public health, protecting ratepayers, and addressing the climate crisis by removing

woody biomass from clean energy standards in Massachusetts. We further urge you to reject

Sections 8 and 22 of H.4503, which would lead to the expansion of subsidies for woody

biomass energy in the Commonwealth.

Both S.2136, An Act to remove woody biomass from the greenhouse gas emissions standard for

municipal lighting plants, and S.2137, An Act limiting the eligibility of woody biomass as an

alternative energy supply, implement the biomass provisions in Governor Healey’s campaign

platform to “end subsidies for forest bioenergy for electricity and commercial-scale heat.” These

bills are mirrored in the House by H.3210 and H.3211, sponsored by Rep. Orlando Ramos, and

endorsed by more than 100 health, environmental, social justice, religious, and community-based

organizations.

Last session, you led efforts in the Legislature to remove biomass power plants from qualifying

for the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) with the passage of An Act Driving Clean Energy

and Offshore Wind. However, because the RPS does not apply to municipal light plants (MLPs),

incentives remain for developers to build and operate wood-burning power plants in

Massachusetts, or to purchase biomass energy from other New England states. The MLP

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard (GGES) includes biomass as an eligible “non-carbon

emitting source” starting January 1, 2026. We ask that you include S.2136, which would remove

this MLP “biomass loophole,” in the climate package that is currently being negotiated.

Importantly, Palmer Renewable Energy is still suing the Commonwealth to reinstate its permits

to build a controversial wood-burning power plant in East Springfield – and potentially reap the

benefits of the MLP GGES biomass loophole – all at the health expense of a community recently

rated as the asthma capital of the United States. More broadly, including woody biomass in theGGES could help subsidize failing wood-burning power plants throughout New England by

funneling MA ratepayer “clean-energy” dollars to out-of-state facilities.

We also support S.2137, which would exclude large and intermediate-sized wood heating units

from qualifying for credits through the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS), consistent with

Governor Healey’s campaign platform. Public health advocates have long raised concerns about

air pollution from wood-burning stoves and furnaces, which are the major source of health-

harming PM2.5 emissions in Massachusetts. Ten states, including Massachusetts, recently sued the

EPA over their ineffective testing and certification standards for residential wood stoves.

Unfortunately, certain provisions in H.4503 would take the Commonwealth in the opposite

direction. Section 8 would dramatically increase subsidies for wood heating in the APS. The

House proposal to give wood-burning stoves and furnaces twice as many credits through the

APS as clean technologies like heat pumps or solar hot water heaters must be rejected. Even with

emissions controls, wood burning is highly polluting. In addition, Section 22 cancels a required

study of the health and climate impacts of biomass energy. As part of the 2021 Climate Roadmap

law, the Legislature directed the Administration to complete this study by March 2023.

Massachusetts has a longstanding commitment to promoting science-based policies to address

the climate crisis. Subsidies that promote burning wood for energy undermine efforts to meet our

climate goals and siphon clean energy dollars away from truly clean sources like wind, solar, or

geothermal. We urge the legislature to reject policies that use public or rate-payer funds to

promote technologies that are harmful to communities and pollute the air we breathe.

We respectfully ask that you incorporate language from S.2136 and S.2137 in any climate

legislation, and reject Sections 8 and 22 as proposed in H.4503

Signed,

ADAM GOMEZ JASON LEWIS JAMIE ELDRIDGE

State Senator State Senator State Senator

Hampden Fifth Middlesex Middlesex and Worcester

PAVEL PAYANO PATRICIA D. JEHLEN MICHAEL MOORE

State Senator State Senator State Senator

First Essex Second Middlesex Second Worcester

MARC PACHECO JAKE OLIVEIRA

State Senator State Senator

Third Bristol and Plymouth Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester

Serious Play’s FREE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNITY FORUM  

                 Workroom Theater@33 Hawley/June 22 4-6:30pm 

HOSTS OF THE FORUM:

1-John Feffer is the director of the Global Just Transition project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of several books including The Pandemic Pivot and three novels of speculative fiction about climate change.  He is also the playwright, performer, and producer of a dozen theater works.

2-Andrea Battle is an active member of the Amherst League of Women Voters and is on the Leadership Steering Committee. She advocates for climate action and more education on sustainability and climate change, for the health of the Connecticut River itself, and for better health care for the Connecticut River Valley communities. She is a facilitator for the JewishCommunity of Amherst, and the “Stolen Beam” 5-part initiative that looks at the reasons and solutions to what has been done to the African American community, and why reparations are important.

1-The Race to Reduce Fossil Fuels &The Treaty

To have any chance of bringing down carbon emissions and the warming of the planet, the world must break its addiction to fossil fuels. According to most estimates, coal use by 2050 must fall around 80-85% from 2022 levels, gas by 55-70%, and oil by 75-95%. But the world’s governments haven’t yet started down that path. Quite the contrary: the UN estimates that 110% more fossil fuels will be produced in 2030, then would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

One new initiative to wean countries of their addiction to coal, oil, and gas is the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty., which promotes concrete measures to phase out the primary drivers of carbon emissions. Currently 12 countries have endorsed the initiative, including most recently Colombia. States like California have also signed on as well as a number of municipalities around the world. So far, that list doesn’t include Massachusetts or any communities in this state.

This group’s goal is to raise awareness about the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty at local levels in Western Mass., with the aim to generate collective action too officially endorse this treaty.

The Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty aims to stop the expansion of fossil fuels, manage an equitable phase-out of coal, oil, and gas, and lay the foundations of a just energy transition. While it is officially endorsed by 12 countries so far, the United States is not there on the list yet. However, awareness about this treaty is increasing at local and state levels. Some states (California and Maine) have already endorsed the treaty. While official endorsements at national and state levels require more systematic and planned collective action and depend on political goodwill, efforts to do so often start at local levels. Support for this treaty has come in the form of endorsements from counties (Albany, NY), and towns (Somerset, MD). Involving Amherst Town Council and Northampton City Council would be the first step to increasing awareness about this issue. In light of this, one idea is to send an invitation to the members of these councils to attend our event, hoping that it sows the seeds for future changes to advance the goals of the clean energy transition.

Group Leader: 

Debamanyu Das is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Economics, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on the political economy of the clean energy transition. His work focuses on the geopolitics of critical minerals needed for the energy transition and explores various industrial policies to advance the socially just energy transition. Details of his work can be found at: https://debamanyudas.com/

Actor from Serious Play’s MOVING WATER production, Kermit Dunkelberg, will join you.

                                  __________________________________________

2- Valley to Valley: A Project With A Sister Community in Ecuador  & Opposing Green Colonialism

Building relationships, climate reparations, supporting opposition to “green colonialism,” enabling a green energy transition,& building understanding with a community in the Intag River Valley in Ecuador.

The peasant communities in the Intag River Valley in northwest Ecuador have been resisting large-scale mining for decades and have built up a local solidarity economy as a livelihood alternative. Now they are pursuing a communitarian hydropower project designed to provide families with extra income and jobs, avoid deforestation, protect biodiversity, and strengthen relations–within their communities, with nature, and with communities in the Global North willing to support them.  The design calls for installing a small scale, eco-friendly hydropower generator that requires no dam and no flooding of land.

This project will involve learning about the Intag community; learning about the climate debt of the United States; learning about green colonialism, sharing this learning with individuals, groups and institutions in our local area; raising funds to implement the hydropower project in Intag; and building relationships and solidarity with people locally and in Ecuador.  The request from Intag is, “Invest in our dreams.”

We hope that this might become a model for other sister-community relationships between Central America and the U.S. and be part of building support throughout the U.S. for climate reparations and/or fair share global climate finance. (This project is endorsed by Climate Action Now-Western Massachusetts.)

More info is available at:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/378289872_Pathways_to_decolonize_North-South_relations_around_energy_transition

https://hidroaguagrun.jimdosite.com

Group Leader:

Russ Vernon-Jones is a former public elementary school educator, an anti-racist and climate justice educator and activist, and a member of the Steering Committee of Climate Action Now- Western Massachusetts.

Actor from Serious Play’s MOVING WATER production, Stephanie Reyes, will join you.

————————————————————————–

3- From Stopping a Pipeline in Springfield to Halting New Gas System Expansion Statewide- A Climate Action Now & Springfield Climate Justice Coalition Initiative.

Our group discussion will focus on the effort to stop a proposed gas expansion pipeline that would run through environmental justice communities in Springfield. From this Springfield Climate Justice Coalition initiative, sprouts a statewide campaign to put a halt to all gas system expansions in Massachusetts. Become aware and get involved in this effort for environmental justice and ecosystem survival. 

We will introduce other work of Climate Action Now,  How would you like to engage with the climate movement? Are you on fire about stopping new polluting energy projects? Is your passion protecting wildlands and forests? Are you interested in regenerative growing including native plant meadows and healthy soils?  Would you like to understand why we have a working group focused on racism, white supremacy and climate justice? Might you be interested in exploring our newest working group on war and climate change?  Come with your questions about Climate Action Now and find out what we are doing.

Climate Action Now is a grassroots, all-volunteer group created in the summer of 2012 as a community response to the growing climate and environmental catastrophe. We are dedicated to building a powerful climate justice movement through organizing, action and public education. Connected by our passion to preserve a livable world and create a more just society, our vision is to provide a home for all people engaged in climate justice work and campaigns, so we can mutually support and strengthen all of our efforts. Climate Action Now works on a broad variety of projects and campaigns in the realm of climate and environmental justice. Learn more at:http://climateactionnowma.org

Group Leaders from CLIMATE ACTION NOW:

Susan Theberge  Ed.D  – Concerned about the climate catastrophe and the injustices we face, Susan left her academic position to return to her roots as a “grassroots organizer” centering race, class and climate justice. Her primary focus is to help build a powerful, inclusive, anti-racist mass movement to respond to the climate emergency, and to the injustices of the capitalist system. Co-founder and Steering Committee member of Climate Action Now in Western Mass, Susan is a founding member of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and works in collaboration with organizations locally, statewide and nationally. 

Naia Tenerowicz is a grassroots environmental justice organizer based in Springfield. She is on the leadership team for the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and is a steering committee member of Climate Action Now Western MA. She represents both groups in the Mass Power Forward Coalition. She is currently one of the lead organizers in a fight against Eversource Gas’ proposed gas expansion pipeline from Longmeadow to Springfield, as well as a state-wide legislative campaign for a halt to new gas system expansions. Her work is grounded in a deep care for the well-being of her community and a commitment to anti-racism, guided by the vision of a just transition to a clean, green, renewable energy future that centers people over profit.

Actor from Serious Play’s MOVING WATER production, Marcus Neverson, will join you.

____________________________________________________

The fight to stop new gas expansion in Massachusetts is at a critical juncture!

After two years of hard work, a climate bill with the potential to include a halt on new large gas pipelines is moving quickly through the legislature. A vote could happen as soon as next weekWe need your help to make sure that a halt on new gas expansion is included in this proposed climate bill! 

 Contact your Senators using the template below and urge them to support a halt on new gas expansion in the upcoming climate bill. Looking to do more? Join our Mass Power Foward lobby day this coming June 20th! RSVP here.

Spread the word: Share this message with your friends, family, and networks.Let’s pass this crucial legislation and ensure a cleaner future for Massachusetts this year!

Email your Senator today~ Find their email here

Better yet – give them a call! 


Subject line: Urgent: Stop unnecessary gas burden on residents

Draft email
Dear Senator ####,To truly tackle climate change this year in Massachusetts, the proposed climate bill must include a halt on new gas infrastructure projects. As your constituent, I urge you to commit to supporting language in the proposed climate bill that prohibits the Energy Facilities Siting Board from approving new gas infrastructure. 

Specifically I ask you to commit to supporting language from S.2135 that:  ● Prohibits the Energy Facilities Siting Board from approving construction permits and authorizing environmental impact statements for new gas facilities, except those required for the safety of the public. 

● Prohibits the Department of Public Utilities from approving gas service expansion into towns without pre-existing gas service.

There are three key reasons to support a halt of new gas infrastructure this year: 

Fiscal responsibility for ratepayers: Ratepayers are being asked to pay billions for new gas infrastructure via higher charges on their gas bills. Since the payment for new infrastructure is spread out over many years, these extra charges will continue long after the infrastructure has been abandoned in the transition to cleaner energy. Meanwhile, as more consumers stop using gas, the burden on remaining ratepayers will increase. In November 2022, the price of natural gas delivered to MA homes was already 21% higher than 12 months earlier.

Meet our state climate goals: Continuing to expand gas infrastructure contradicts Massachusetts’ 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, which calls for the Commonwealth to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As the November 2022 report of the MA Clean Heat Commission states: “Investments that would support new or increased natural gas infrastructure or capacity should instead be deployed to advance measures that help support the net zero future.” 

In their December 2023 Order, the Department of Public Utilities “set forth a regulatory strategy for pursuing an energy future that begins to move the Commonwealth beyond gas and toward its climate objectives” and that “to discourage further expansion of the natural gas distribution system” “legislative action may be required for the Department to be able to implement change.” The provisions of S.2135 would be that legislative action.

Non-disruptive: This is a halt on new, large, expensive infrastructure. This is not a local hookup ban to new buildings where infrastructure already exists.For these important reasons, will you commit to supporting a halt on new, large gas infrastructure in the climate bill?Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[First Name]
[Last Name]
[Your Address]

Sources:Massachusetts Price of Natural Gas Delivered to Residential Consumers (Dollars per Thousand Cubic Feet) U.S. Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010ma3m.htmMA Commission Clean Heat report, accessible here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/learn-about-the-commission-on-clean-heat
MA Department of Public Utilities, DPU20-80, Order on Regulatory Principles and Framework at 137, 14 and 19, available at https://fileservice.eea.comacloud.net/FileService.Api/file/FileRoom/18297602

Join us for the ISO New England Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on June 4

Friends! 

We are reaching out to invite you to the next ISO New England (ISO-NE) Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on June 4, 2024 12:00-3:30pm at Holyoke Community College Kittredge Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts. 

ISO-NE is the independent, nonprofit organization charged with managing the New England electrical grid and wholesale markets. They accomplish this with our ratepayer dollars (the electric utilities forward portions of the bills we pay to (ISO-NE). This meeting is a great opportunity for New England ratepayers to get some answers to questions we posed last meeting about their demand response markets, begin a discussion about the meaning of “reliability,” hear about new developments at ISO-NE, and bring any other questions we have for the grid operator. It’s also a great opportunity for those who gather in-person to be together and experience the joy we create when we show up together!

For the June CLG meeting, ISO-NE reserved a room with only 100 seats, despite the fact that hundreds of ratepayers have been engaged in recent CLG meetings. In response, help us to pack the room in Holyoke (and the online meeting platform) to show ISO-NE that we will not be silenced!

Recently, ISO-NE has been pressured to silence ratepayer voices, and we could argue that senior management at the grid operator have collaborated in this effort directly. 

In early April, two people wrote a letter to an executive at ISO-NE demanding that the grid operator either rein us in or abolish the CLG. The authors are a powerful member of NEPOOL (the industry and utility-controlled official “stakeholder group” that exerts significant control over ISO New England) and an anti-renewables activist affiliated with the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  A week later, ISO officials reprimanded the CLG Coordinating Committee members we elected for emailing ratepayers about the importance of conservation demand response. You can read about what the state of New Hampshire’s Consumer Advocate had to say about this series of critiques directed at the Consumer Liaison Group here.

These tactics are evidence that we’re disrupting business-as-usual in a way that troubles industry insiders. We need you (and your friends) to help us keep the pressure on! 

Last week, ISO-NE submitted a filing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) arguing that our comment (signed by over 4,000 people) opposing their recent Forward Capacity Auction results was “outside the scope” of the proceedings. The implication is that FERC will not hear claims that ISO-NE is acting in violation of the rules that govern their operations. Does this mean that the rules don’t apply to ISO-NE? Join us June 4th, and you can ask them yourself!


HOW TO REGISTER

If you have never attended a meeting hosted by ISO-NE, you will be directed to make an account here. You’ll need to have the login information from that site when you register for this and future meetings. 


Once you have an account, you can register for the CLG Meeting here.Choose in-person attendance or online attendance (via WebEx), then click “Request” at the bottom.It is our goal to fill the room (there are 100 in-person seats total)If you can’t get to Holyoke, Massachusetts on a weekday afternoon, it’s still important to register to attend online. These registrations alone are evidence that people care about what is happening at ISO-NE.If you join in-person, lunch is provided from 12:00-12:30pm. The online portion (and in-person programming) begins at 12:30pm.

 IMPORTANT: In-person registration closes at noon on Wednesday, May 29th. Online registration closes at noon on June 4th.

The registration system maintained by ISO-NE is frustrating. Please stick with it, and if you have trouble, reach out to Marla for help 781-475-0996 or marla@climatedisobedience.org

Please note that we won’t get a record of your registration (ISO-NE does NOT share that information with us, so you may receive a text message from us inviting you to attend after you’ve registered.).REMEMBER: every expression of interest from the residential ratepayers of New England in these meetings is another piece of evidence to ISO-NE that they are no longer invisible to the general public. Help us demonstrate to ISO-NE that as long as they receive hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars to conduct their business (and they control billions more through the design and management of wholesale electricity markets), they should expect our presence, our questions, our feedback, and our demands for a swift, just transition of the grid.

Thank you for showing up with us! We hope to host a zoom session for those who want to get an orientation to ISO-NE, CLG, and the meeting agenda. Stay tuned for details, and see you in Holyoke (and online)!
Keep it coming!
-Marla Marcum for the No Coal No Gas Campaign

Don’t Back Down on Biomass: The Continuing Saga

When Rep. Roy, the chair of the powerful Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Committee visited Western Mass in late March, he acknowledged that TUE is hearing from people across the state about problematic biomass language showing up in a new bill, H.4503 , a bill that TUE reported out favorably and sent to House Ways & Means, where it awaits action.

Meanwhile, the bills the No Toxic Biomass Campaign is supporting just got another extension from TUE – through June 20th- which means our bills are still in play. These bills would end remaining subsidies for biomass in MA (see our website for more info about these bills and co-sponsor lists).  We await a Senate climate bill, which is why contacting Senator Barrett on this issue is important.

Everyone’s advocacy is really making a difference so let’s keep up the pressure!  If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time.

Current targets – in order of priority at this time:

  • House Ways & Means Chair – Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov, (617) 722-2990
  • Senate TUE Chair – Mike.Barrett@masenate.gov, (617) 722-1572
  • House TUE Chair – Jeffrey.Roy@mahouse.gov, (617) 722-2030

PHONE CALLS TO MICHLEWITZ’S OFFICE IN PARTICULAR WOULD BE GREAT! 

(Or a quick email to all three chairs listed above!!!)

Current asks for these legislators:

  1. OPPOSE sections 8 and 22 of H.4503 (formerly H.3216)

– Please eliminate sections 8 and 22 of H.4503. Section 8 would double incentives for wood-burning furnaces and boilers under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS), giving these polluting heating options preferential treatment over heat pumps, geothermal, and other zero emissions technologies. Section 22 would eliminate a mandated study of the public health and climate impacts of biomass energy.

  1. SUPPORT S.2136/H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211

– We want this year’s climate legislation to eliminate subsidies for wood burning, which is detrimental to public health and the climate. Please advance S.2136/H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211, which would remove ratepayer-funded subsidies for biomass under the municipal light plant greenhouse gas emissions standard and the APS, respectively.

Update:

Last week, the bill we are opposing (formerly H.3216) got a new number and was published on the legislative website as H.4503. The bill language is unchanged from what we previously circulated, with sections 8 and 22 remaining the problematic provisions on biomass. H.4503 was reported out favorably by TUE and sent to House Ways & Means, where it awaits action.

Meanwhile, the bills the No Toxic Biomass campaign is supporting just got another extension from TUE – through June 20th – so they are still in play. These bills would end remaining subsidies for biomass in MA (see our website for more information about these bills and co-sponsor lists).  We are still awaiting a Senate climate bill, which is why contacting Senator Barrett on this issue is important.

BIG PICTURE:  

Between now and the end of the legislative session in July, the House and Senate will be negotiating a final climate package. We need to make sure that the new pro-biomass provisions advanced by Rep. Roy in H.4503 are not included in the final package, and use this opportunity to demand an end to all subsidies for wood-burning energy in Massachusetts!

We continue to push for the removal of biomass from the MLP greenhouse gas emission standard and from the APS.  We are still urging the TUE chairs to report these bills favorably out of committee, and now are also working to stave off the bad language in H.4503 (sections 8 and 22).

When TUE Chair Roy came out to Western Mass at the end of March, he acknowledged that they are hearing from people across the Commonwealth about problematic new biomass language.  So let’s keep up the pressure! 

 If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time.

We also need calls and emails to Representative Michlewitz, the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. Here is the link to an email action alert you can use to write to your legislators, and share with others!!

Back story

Between now and the end of the legislative session in July, the House and Senate will be negotiating a final climate package. We need to make sure that troublesome new pro-biomass provisions advanced by Rep. Roy in H.4503 are not included in the final package.  Let our legislators know that the only sane path is to end all subsidies for wood-burning energy in Massachusetts!

Read the whole story

We continue to push for the removal of biomass from the MLP greenhouse gas emission standard and from the APS.  We are still urging the TUE chairs to report these bills favorably out of committee, and now are also working to stave off the bad language in H.4503 (sections 8 and 22).

The good news is that when TUE Chair Roy came out to Western Mass at the end of March, he acknowledged that they are hearing from people across the Commonwealth about the problematic new biomass language.  So let’s keep up the pressure!  If you haven’t yet reached out to your legislators or TUE, now is the time – and now we also need calls and emails to Representative Michlewitz, the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee. Here is the link to an email action alert you can use to write to your legislators, and share with others!!

What would Section 8 do?  

As currently written, Section 8 would DOUBLE the subsidy for ANY WOOD-BURNING FURNACE OR STOVE that qualifies for the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS). 

Background:

An Alternative Energy Credit (AEC) is analogous to an SREC, which many people are familiar with, especially if you have solar panels at your own home. (SRECs and RECs are part of the RPS – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, while AECs are part of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS). Under either of these programs, you receive a credit, ultimately funded through everyone’s utility bills, if you install a qualified technology.

Biomass is part of the “renewable thermal” part of the APS; in other words, section 8 is about wood for heating, rather than for generating electricity. This includes large wood boilers and wood furnaces at institutions such as hospitals and schools, as well as smaller residential units.

Under the current APS statute, one AEC is earned for every 3,412,000 Btus of net useful thermal energy produced by the heating facility.  (Section 8 of H.3216 would cut this number in half, allowing users to earn one AEC for every 1,706,000 Btus of net useful thermal energy produced. This effectively doubles the subsidies paid out to wood-burning heating units.

SECTION 8. Section 11F 1/2 of Chapter 25A of the general laws, as so appearing in the 2022 official edition, is hereby amended by adding the following to the end of Section 11F 1/2 (e): The department shall provide that for facilities generating useful thermal energy by using eligible biomass technologies that also install an electrostatic precipitator or other emissions control device, an alternative energy credit shall be earned for 1,706,000 British thermal units of net useful thermal energy so as to improve air quality.

While the bill mentions electrostatic precipitators, which are only used on very large facilities, it also says, without limiting language, “or other emissions control device.” As someone put it, language this broad is big enough to drive a wood pellet truck through!  We should add that the APS already requires eligible wood-heating appliances to have emissions controls, and that under no circumstances does burning wood “improve air quality.”

What would section 22 do?

Section 22 would get rid of the biomass study that was required under the Climate Roadmap Law: 

SECTION 22. Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 is hereby repealed. 

Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 states:

The executive office of energy and environmental affairs and its various agencies and departments shall conduct a study within 2 years of the effective date of this act that shall include, but not be limited to: (i) an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions generated and projected to be generated by combustion within the commonwealth of the various categories and classes of biomass fuels; (ii) the public health consequences of said combustion for affected populations, together with estimations of the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions and (iii) public health impacts of said combustion.  To inform the design and conduct of said study, the executive office shall hold not less than 3 public hearings.

The biomass study requirement was included in the Climate Roadmap Law in the context of the creation of the greenhouse gas emissions standard (GGES) for municipally-owned utilities (MLPs). The MLP GGES requires MLPs to source their energy from an increasing percentage of non-carbon emitting technologies, which would be great if it weren’t for the inclusion of biomass in its definition of “non-carbon emitting.” Because of all of our pushback on biomass, the Climate Roadmap Law ended up putting a five-year pause on the inclusion of biomass in the definition, and requiring the biomass study. That five-year pause ends in 2026, and, if H.4503 is passed as redrafted, there will be no study – just a state-mandated “non-carbon emitting” requirement that can be met by burning biomass.

Katy, for PFPI & the No Toxic Biomass Campaign

(413) 320-0747

Action Alert: Biomass Bills at Risk

INDIVIDUALS: Please contact your legislators with this message:

Massachusetts ratepayers should not fund burning trees for energy! A bill emerged from TUE with language that increases subsidies for biomass facilities under the APS and eliminates a biomass study mandated by the 2021 Climate Roadmap Law.Please ask TUE not to include sections 8 or 22 of H.3216 in any legislation going forward. 

Instead, ask them to incorporate the policies of S.2136 /H.3210 and S.2137/H.3211 into the Committee’s climate legislation.

Please put this message in your own words and add at least one sentence about why this is important to you.

*************************************************************************************************************************************

BACKGROUND

The full text of this letter (signed by organizations only) contains detailed background information including citations.

Do not include: SECTION 8. Section 11F 1/2 of Chapter 25A of the general laws, as so appearing in the 2022

official edition, is hereby amended by adding the following to the end of Section 11F 1/2 (e):

The department shall provide that for facilities generating useful thermal energy by using eligible

biomass technologies that also install an electrostatic precipitator or other emissions control

device, an alternative energy credit shall be earned for 1,706,000 British thermal units of net

useful thermal energy so as to improve air quality.

AND Do not include : SECTION 22. Section 102 of Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021 is hereby repealed.

ORGANIZATIONS: Please sign your organization on to this letter by Wednesday, March 13th.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The full text of the letter signed by organizations (above) contains detailed background information including citations.

Full Snow Moon Gathering & Eastern Woodlands Social Dance

Rights of Nature for the Long River

Take Action for Smart Solar TODAY, Tuesday, February 6

Those of us who care about forests and agriculture need to send an email to the legislature TODAY!

BACKGROUND

There are two bills that would remove the so-called “solar exemption”  from state law. This exemption practically prohibits towns from regulating industrial solar, 

If the law is changed, towns could protect forests, agriculture, and water systems and regulate solar in reasonable ways, without being threatened by expensive law suits. These bills are:

• S.1319 An Act regarding municipal zoning powers
• H.2082 An Act regarding municipal zoning powers

In Nov. these bills received a lot of support from many of us. HOWEVER, they have not yet been voted favorably out of committee. This is necessary to allow the full legislature to vote. 

ACTION:
• Email the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. 
• Ask them to vote S1319 and H2082 favorably out of committee.
• When: NOW – before Feb 7!!

INSTRUCTIONS
Email to: 
Senate Chair Oliveira—-   Jacob.Oliveira@masenate.gov
House Chair Fiola—-   Carole.Fiola@mahouse.gov
Senate Vice Chair Kennedy—-   edward.kennedy@masenate.gov
House Vice Chair Sabadosa—-   lindsay.sabadosa@mahouse.gov

You should also cc Jo Comerford and Mindy Domb (if she is your Rep.) on any email you send.

Text:
I support the reasonable regulation of solar and the protection of our forests, agriculture and water systems. Please vote bills S1319 and H2082, Acts regarding municipal zoning powers  favorably out of committee . Municipalities need to be freed from the outdated “solar exemption” so they can reasonably regulate industrial solar. Recent 2023 reports confirm that the Commonwealth needs a vibrant ecosystem as part of its climate action. 

Thank you,
Name
City/Town
Email

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