Category: Archived Posts

The Mass Save energy efficiency program is seeking input from the public


Speak out:  Thursday, April 5 at 6pm in Springfield

Submit written comments:  by email.  See below.

We are facing a climate crisis with rising temperatures and sea levels, megastorms and droughts caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We need to cut our greenhouse gas emissions now, and by doing so, improve our air quality, our health and our energy bills.

Massachusetts is a nationwide leader in energy efficiency and conservation, which are the most cost-effective and potent means of decreasing emissions. Our energy efficiency programs are known as Mass Save, which uses the dollars taken from our electric and gas bills to fund weatherization for our houses and replacement of inefficient furnaces, refrigerators, air conditioners and lightbulbs.

It is a great start, but the electric and gas companies that make up Mass Save CAN DO BETTER, allowing us to better cut pollution, fight climate change and meet the challenges of the Global Warming Solutions and Green Communities Acts.

Energy experts are calling for:

  1. Accountability. Overall energy efficiency (EE) goals for the program should increase annually and be aggressive and science-based.  These goals should generate  penalties for the utility Program Administrators who do not reach them.  Performance incentives should be tied to not only meeting, but exceeding the goals.   Goal attainment must be assessed by measured results- actual energy savings– not just on estimates.  These actual outcomes need to be reported to the public in a way that is easy to understand, so that we know where our dollars are going and how much of an impact they are having.
  2. Serving those in need. Better outreach must be made to low income and non-English-speaking households, households with disabled, elderly and people of color.  Pilot programs should be designed and tested to see which are most effective in reaching those in greatest need.  This should be coupled with transparency about the services that these households are actually receiving from Mass Save. Furthermore, there should be an “opt-out” policy, assigning audits to all those low income customers who qualify for LIHEAP and any discount utility rates. These customers could be offered the option to opt-out of such services, and not be burdened by having to request the energy auditing services themselves.  Energy audit results from these customers should be reported, along with a listing of the remedial actions taken and the energy savings that resulted.
  3.  Expansion of coverage. More moderate income people (up to 120% of median income) should qualify for full subsidies of all energy saving measures. These households often cannot afford to pay the remainder of the cost of the upgrades that are not subsidized by the program
  4. Better serving renters. Mass Save should publicly engage landlords in discussion of the benefits of energy efficiency and explore ways to grant rights to their tenants who pay their own utility bills such that the tenants can institute  energy efficiency measures on their own. We suggest that the utility could prepay for such improvements and could be repaid over time through the utility bills.
  5. Redefine cost-effectiveness. Energy assessments and subsidized energy efficiency (EE) upgrades must be more comprehensive and science-based than the limited ones now provided. EE measures should be included that may take more than seven years to pay back in cost savings or that provide health benefits to the household and neighborhood. Contractors should be given some leeway to expand their work once on the site, according to their determination of what EE measures would have continuing benefit. Additionally, energy efficiency measures that reduce peak demand (and thus lower demand for the dirtiest, highest cost electricity) should be covered.
  6. Transparency. Communities should know how many households have been served each year, how many low and moderate income households were served, how many households were served in which English is not a primary language, and what specifically what services were provided.  In addition, customers should be surveyed about their satisfaction with the services, and the broader population should be surveyed to determine barriers to using the Mass Save program.
  7. Air source heat pumps. Energy efficient air source heat pumps should be made available and heavily subsidized for those houses already benefiting from energy efficiency measures, including those households presently using gas, oil, coal or electricity for heat.

Every year, Mass Save is unable to spend all the money taken from our bills to fund energy efficiency. Mass Save needs to work more effectively, broadly and deeply, and with more transparency and accountability.

Please take your comments to the  Mass Save Listening Session, 6 pm,  Thursday, April 5 at the UMass Center, 1500 Main Street, Springfield. We want to pack the room and want all to speak out for our right to health and sustainability through energy efficiency.     If you are interested in carpooling from the north, meet at 5pm at the Sheldon Field lot in Northampton.

Whether you are able to go to the hearing or not, please submit your comments by email by sending to: and .  In the subject line, put “Written statement for Energy Efficiency Advisory Council”.  Then ask for confirmation that it will be distributed to councilors.

Click here for Facebook event




Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count

Columnist Marty Nathan: Laws needed to deal with climate change

Published in The Hampshire Daily Gazette Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I was walking to the River Valley Co-op Sunday morning, pondering what I would say in this column, when a pickup truck narrowly missed hitting me in the Jackson Street crosswalk at Bridge Road.

The driver had run a red light and I reacted with a classic “What the …?!” pose. But then I audibly finished the phrase when the Toyota behind him followed his path and came even closer to flattening me. He yelled back at me as though I were the aggressor.

I immediately knew there were lessons here, so I will dare to spin them.

I can remember when there were fewer laws protecting pedestrians. There were not many crosswalks. Drivers had a lot more freedom to drive as and where they wanted, and since it was an unequal match — body vs. automobile — a lot of destruction was done to those on foot.

The public danger and immorality of uncontrolled car use was slowly recognized and now every city enforces pedestrian safety. Some, like the scofflaws who threatened me on Sunday, ignore the law, but by doing so they risk jail, particularly if they are successful in doing me in.

More recently the public health threat of tobacco was recognized and codified in laws throughout our country, controlling where and when people can light up, to protect us all from heart and lung disease caused by the smoke. The same should happen with guns to stop the epidemic of violence from mass and individual shootings.

They are practices that most people recognized were wrong before they were made illegal. They violated the public trust, the right to live free of threat by the actions of others. The process of codifying in law that which we know benefits society is nearly always stymied by those (big car, big tobacco, big gun) who sell and profit from lack of restriction on their product and claim they represent the civil rights of the users. Corporate advertisers have fabricated an ideology of “freedom” for the driver, smoker, gun owner.

That ideology has masked a David and Goliath (like me and the car) battle for health and safety against huge, wealthy and powerful corporations. Alert civil society is David.

Enter climate change and environmental devastation. Human rights advocates around the world recognize a fundamental right to breathe clean air in a stable climate without destructive hurricanes, massive drought with associated crop failure, rising seas and flooding, and killer heat waves. It is as basic as my right to life when I step into that crosswalk.

And yet, despite progress first made under Richard Nixon in the 1970s to convert into law that which was known to be reasonable and moral, the Trump administration and corporate friends are wiping out all the protections against climate chaos, heat and rising seas on behalf of the right of polluters to profit. Nixon’s Environmental Protective Agency and its regulations are systematically being dismantled by Trump and Scott Pruitt.

Our coastal waters, public lands and Arctic are open to drilling and despoiling with taxpayer subsidy in a mad drive for profit that will raise world temperatures well above climate tipping points that will yield uncontrollable warming.

To protect the public trust and human rights, particularly of the most vulnerable poor in our country and around the world, we must make (and sometimes remake) the laws that stop the polluting. It’s rough to do it now on the federal level, but we have 2018 elections coming soon.

In this state, there is a lot of lawmaking to be done to protect that public trust for a livable climate:

It must become expensive to pollute. There needs to be a price put on the burning of fossil fuels that begins to capture some of the externalized costs that are borne by all of us in the form of asthma and heart disease they cause as well as the climate they change. (H1726/S1821)

There must be a significant structured rise in the amount of renewable energy that we substitute for coal, gas and oil-burning in generating our electricity. (H2706/S1846)

We must defy the Trump administration’s attempt to kill solar energy development through the imposition of tariffs and instead remove Massachusetts net-metering caps that now limit panel owners’ benefiting from their investment and ensure that low-income communities have access to solar power. (H1396/S1831)

Our Department of Public Utilities, which arbitrates the structure of energy delivery, must stop acting as protectors of the gas companies, welcoming every proposed pipeline as a long-missed relative. There are better alternatives now, and the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure, using taxpayer or ratepayer funds, is a rotten investment. (H3400/S1847)

Speaking of investment, our state and our cities need to follow New York City’s lead and divest from fossil fuels. (H3281)

Poor and working people need institutionalized protection from the kind of polluting industries that tend to be sited in their communities. (H2913/S426)

These are some of the laws that we need to adopt to deal squarely with this century’s overarching public health threat, climate change. They state clearly that, when weighed against corporate profitability and the “rights” of polluters, human life and our planet’s sustainability must win in a just, democratic society.

Every Tuesday morning, I get together with good friends around a kitchen table to drink coffee, eat pastries and gossip. We also call our legislators and let them know exactly what we think should become law in our state to protect our society and our children’s future.

We request that good sense become good law. You are welcome to join us or, if you like, create your own gathering. If we recruit hundreds if not thousands of Davids, Goliath doesn’t have a chance.

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 She may be reached at
…read more here

Column: It’s time to promote, encourarge, support grassroots efforts to combat climate change

It’s time to promote, encourarge, support grassroots efforts to combat climate change (Guest viewpoint)

In this June 3, 2017, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation's top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. A recent poll finds that less than a third of Americans support President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, with just 18 percent of respondents agreeing with his claim that pulling out of the international agreement to reduce carbon emissions will help the U.S. economy.(AP Photo/Branden Camp, File)
In this June 3, 2017, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. A recent poll finds that less than a third of Americans support President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, with just 18 percent of respondents agreeing with his claim that pulling out of the international agreement to reduce carbon emissions will help the U.S. economy.(AP Photo/Branden Camp, File)

Since May 31, the world is talking climate change, I am happy to say. Most of the message is angry and scornful of the Trump Administration’s plan to exit the Paris Climate Change Accord. President Trump has rejected the United States’ leadership role in preventing climate disaster in favor of continued profits for the oil, gas and coal industries. That act was the crowning blow in his battle against environmental responsibility. The offensive has included the appointment of oil well huggers Scott Pruitt, Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke and Rex Tillerson; executive orders that reopened federal lands to mining and drilling; budgetary gutting of the EPA and all other renewable energy programs: and suspension of the Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from U.S. power plants.

Trump’s ultimately leaving the Climate Change Treaty was not unexpected, but it was foolish. The biggest issue of course is its damage to the planet. A Washington consultancy, the Climate Advisors, predicts that Trump’s climate policy will cause U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which have been falling, to begin to flatten or increase by 2020, and to inject an extra half-billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2025. Global warming will increase, leading tomore killer heat waves, superstorms, drought, crop failure, melting ice and rising seas.


But there is mounting worldwide recognition of the economic and public health advantages to a rapid transition to conservation and renewable energy. Industrial and job growth is booming in the field of solar and wind energy. The U.S. not only will be stigmatized by its immoral stand towards the world’s climate future, it simply will not be able to compete in a rapidly changing world.

Recognizing the danger and the opportunity, local and state leaders are filling the vacuum left by the federal government. As of this writing, more than 350 mayors representing 65.8 million Americans in 44 states have signed on to the “Climate Mayors” coalition. Springfield’s Mayor Domenic Sarno was one of them.

Aligning with the other 194 nations that adopted and remain in the accord, they pledged to “continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.”

Thirteen states, including Massachusetts, have joined the pledge to Paris. The twelve are home to a third of Americans. Gov. Jerry Brown of California has met with Chinese leadership to consider ways to work together to develop and adopt renewable energy technology. China has replaced the U.S. in the clean energy arena and California leads U.S. states in its climate goals and controls.


Trump’s ignorance and greed on behalf of the fossil fuel industry may have sparked a new awareness among those who are paying attention: this is a fight that must be fought from the grassroots. Our federal government, at least for now, is firmly backing the other side.

In Massachusetts, there is a raft of initiatives on the legislative agenda that would catapult our state into the forefront of the battle against climate change. An environmental coalition is backing plans to achieve electricity powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 and siting green jobs in high-unemployment communities like Springfield. There are also strong bills in Boston for carbon pollution pricing, grid up-grades, electric vehicles, and countless other conservation measures. It is up to us to make sure that our legislators know that we are not fooled by Trump, that we support conservation and renewable energy and we expect the same from them. Call them.

Unfortunately, parts of the present Massachusetts budget run contrary to the direction we must take. The budget shortfall has hit the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, which is threatening to cut back on and eliminate routes that are necessary to those who don’t have or don’t want to use cars. I only found out because I ride two of those buses, the P21 Express and the B48, to Springfield to my job.


This is a climate justice issue. Low income people will be hit particularly hard, losing their means of commuting, shopping, caring for family members. On the other hand, we are a society that must begin to abandon our cars in favor of less fuel-burning alternatives. Public transit must be expanded, not contracted. The PVTA does not have nearly the number or frequency of routes to be easily usable by most people. Public buses are necessary to fight climate change and support economic equity.

There have been several hearings about the bus route eliminations, with round denunciations of the cuts. Check out the proposed changes and send your opinions at This is a chance to think globally and act locally.

Marty Nathan is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield and lives in Northampton.

Columnist Marty Nathan: Citizens must stand against environmental assaults

Published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette

Wednesday, July 05, 2017
On Saturday, June 24, 98-year-old Frances Crowe sat in her wheelchair as it was rolled into the path of construction of Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion Pipeline in the Otis State Forest in Sandisfield. There she stayed, with eight others, temporarily blocking work, until she was rolled away and arrested with the others on a trespassing charge.

Frances had joined the Sugar Shack Alliance, a grassroots group of folks originally motivated to stop the North East Direct Pipeline that Kinder Morgan had proposed to carry gas from fracking operations from New York to Dracut for shipping overseas. For the last year the Alliance has turned its attention to preventing the building of the 3.8-mile pipeline loop also owned by Kinder Morgan and affiliate Tennessee Gas Pipeline. It is being routed onto 17 acres of Otis State Forest land that contains biologically important wetlands and sacred Native American sites. This project is a flagrant violation of Article 47 of the Massachusetts Constitution prohibiting such development on preserved land, but was nonetheless permitted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Frances’ arrest was by no means the first in the campaign, nor will it be the last. The struggle in Sandisfield is stirred, as with almost all environmental fights these days, by three powerful stimuli:

Opposition to local pollution and despoliation of precious air and waterways. Old trees are being felled and the pipeline almost certainly will leak methane and fellow-traveler toxic chemicals into the air and the previously protected lakes and streams nearby.
Climate justice. Building the pipeline violates rights to their traditional religious sites by the Narragansett Tribe. Moreover, it wrecks the state’s compact with all its citizens to protect, not to destroy, our common resources.
Resistance to the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure enabling more carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas burning and more methane blow-off from leaks. Over twenty years, methane is eighty times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas in warming our planet.
The need to say No to burning and emitting fossil fuels just became more urgent. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last week led scores of world leaders and scientists in a declaration published in the prestigious journal Nature that humanity has but three years, to 2020, to begin to decrease global emissions or face the catastrophic consequences of uncontrollable global warming.

Sandisfield, therefore, is part of the epic struggle of our times to save our planet from the devastation that is already claiming coral reefs destroyed by bleaching, agricultural fields in the West devastated first by drought and now by floods, and coastal communities in Haiti and Eastern North Carolina wiped out by hurricanes. The Sugar Shack Alliance is spurred on by the always-relevant maxim, “Think globally and act locally.” They are blockading a path to the ruin of the biosphere.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the opposition… As the New York Times reported, Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Scott Pruitt is one of the few effective members in the Trump Cabinet. Effective, that is, at destroying the agency he was appointed to lead. In mapping his agenda, he has consulted not his own EPA scientists — some of the best in the world — but rather fossil fuel industry lobbyists: the board of the industry lobbying group American Petroleum Institute (with whom he met at Trump Tower), representatives from American Chemical Council and the Republican Attorneys General Association (which he formerly headed). The attorney generals group has taken $4.2 million from fossil-fuel related companies like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries since 2013, and has filed fourteen lawsuits against the EPA.

Pruitt is their man and they are getting what they pay for. Environmental experts are amazed at what he has achieved in the corporate thrall. He relieved chemical companies of the unbearable burden of preventing explosions and spills at their plants. He reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the EPA’s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children’s nervous systems. Despite saying that he is taking the lead in cleaning up toxic sites, he supports a 25 percent budget cut in the Superfund program, which always has been vastly under-resourced.

He has taken a wrecking ball to programs to control greenhouse gas emissions. He was a leading proponent of abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement and will create the legal path to exit it. He has filed to undo or weaken the Clean Power Plan which would limit emissions from coal-fired power plants. He has delayed a rule requiring oil and gas companies to control methane emissions at wells, and eliminated a requirement that they even report on how much is leaking.

This is what the folks of Sugar Shack are up against. A lopsided struggle? It could be seen that way. But increasingly everyday Americans are seeing that the conflict has at its heart our very lives and future. It will take commitment and organization to channel that awakening and fight for a conservation and renewable energy agenda instead of further investment in polluting fossil fuels. To sit on the sidelines grants victory to those, like Pruitt, with the power.

Choose your side and join the fray.

Dr. Marty Nathan lives in Northampton and is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield. She is on the steering committee of Climate Action NOW.

Frances Crowe, pictured here during an anti-war rally, shows the way for citizens who want to stand up against assaults on the environment, says columnist Marty Nathan.


Support Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscape Protection

August 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is a special fundraising appeal to ask supporters of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes to donate to a Climate Action Now project that is very important to us: the protection of indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes. Here are two reasons why:

– Justice for indigenous people

– Restoration of accountability for federal agencies

This project combines these goals in one lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that approved the Kinder Morgan gas pipeline in Sandisfield, Mass. and allowed the destruction of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes that are of cultural significance to indigenous peoples.

Please note: Sugar Shack Alliance has offered a matching grant for up to $4000.  Please make a donation on our  fundraising page Once we match this grant we will have only $500.00 to go.

Ceremonial Stone Landscape Feature  

Photo credit: Doug Harris

Do you know that hidden among the hills and valleys of New England are Ceremonial Stone Landscapes created over thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of this region? Indigenous tribes along the east coast of North America used stone structures as part of their religious and cultural ceremonies, and some of these sacred sites are now being destroyed for gas pipeline projects.

Last summer, right in our own backyard, Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline built the Connecticut Expansion Pipeline through protected land in Otis State Forest. In the process they desecrated at least 23 of the seventy-three ceremonial stone landscapes that had been identified by the New England tribes.

What are ceremonial stone landscapes?

A ceremonial stone landscape is a series of stone groupings, petroglyphs, chambers, or other features created by indigenous   reasons that include marking astronomical cycles, deaths, or other significant events. In the Northeast we generally find these “prayers in stone” hidden in fields, woods, near streams, and even under water. Doug Harris, the Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office, explains the traditional belief that these stones are physical manifestations of living prayers to Mother Earth, calling for balance and harmony in places where traumatic events took place. They should not be altered. When the stones are disassembled and reassembled, the spiritual content is broken.

Who allowed this desecration to happen?

Any time federal approval or federal funds are required for a project, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) mandates a federal agency, in this case FERC, to consider the impact on historic and cultural resources before the project is approved or funds are expended. The NHPA requires consultation with federally recognized Indian Tribes for projects that are on tribal lands and with any tribe that “attaches religious and cultural significance” to the property, regardless of where it is located. FERC approved the Connecticut Expansion Project before the Tribes documented the 73 ceremonial stone landscapes that would be impacted and then did not engage in meaningful consultation with the tribes on how to mitigate the impact on them.

This is nothing new – FERC regularly violates NHPA by delaying review until it is too late to avoid destruction of these sacred resources. FERC’s failure to follow the requirements of the NHPA is illegal and the Narragansett Tribe has filed a lawsuit.

 One third of the ceremonial stone landscapes in Otis State Forest have already been destroyed. Why file a lawsuit now?

When it learned that the ceremonial stone landscapes would be destroyed, the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO) moved for party status in the FERC permitting process and opposed the start of construction. On May 10, 2017, NITHPO requested a rehearing of FERC’s order that authorized construction; it took until January 10, 2018, for FERC to deny the request. It was too late to save the stone landscapes from destruction.

Photo credit: Lisa McLoughlin

On March 2, 2018, NITHPO filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit asking the D.C. Circuit to review: 1) FERC’s orders granting the Tennessee Gas Pipeline the right to construct the Connecticut Expansion Project, and 2) FERC’s rejection of NITHPO’s request for rehearing.FERC also denied NITHPO’s motion to intervene, forcing NITHPO to file a second request for rehearing, and then filed a motion to dismiss NITHPO’s petition in the D.C. Circuit. These procedural maneuvers indicate that FERC is trying to keep NITHPO out of court.

Although harm has been done, good can still come of it.

Across the U.S., fossil fuel infrastructure is being built at an alarming rate. FERC oversees all interstate gas pipelines and many other energy infrastructure projects in the U.S. The goals of this case are threefold: to clarify and enforce federal law, namely the National Historic Preservation Act; to clarify FERC’s consultation requirements; and to establish FERC’s fiduciary duty to Tribal Nations. After reading the parties’ briefs and questioning their counsel in oral arguments, the U.S. Court of Appeals will issue an order that will be binding on FERC. If NITHPO prevails on some or all of its claims, FERC will have to comply with the court’s holdings in future pipeline and other projects across the country.

Why should I help?

Given the historical and continuing genocide of indigenous peoples through the taking and destruction of their lands, their resources, their sacred sites and their way of life, this campaign offers us a rare opportunity for a concrete act of solidarity and respect, and in that spirit we are asking you to join our efforts with as generous a contribution as you can offer.

NITHPO’s lawyer, Anne Marie Garti (who was instrumental in defeating the Constitution Pipeline in New York State) believes this case has a high likelihood of success. She is working at a reduced rate for this social justice effort.  Because of the generosity of people like you, Climate Action Now has raised  $48,248 for this lawsuit through donations and a few small grants.

We are hoping that this is our final fundraising appeal.

We only need another $8,500 to fund this lawsuit.

You can be part of this precedent-setting case.

Please give as generously as you can – a gift that’s significant for you – whether that is $5 or $1,000.

Mail a tax deductible check made out to Creative Thought and Action with CSL in the memo line to:

Rene Theberge, Climate Action Now Treasurer

77 Prospect Street, Apt. 35

Northampton, MA 01060

MA 01002

Sincerely yours,

Susan and Rene Theberge

Columnist Marty Nathan urges taking action for climate justice

Printed in the Hampshire daily Gazette

Columnist Marty Nathan urges taking action for climate justice

Community members lead the Springfield March for Climate, Jobs and  Justice on Saturday. RENE THEBERGE

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

I’m writing this from a near-horizontal position on my living room couch, resting my elderly bones after a good march from the Federal Building to the Springfield City Council steps on Saturday.

It was a sister event to the 200,000-strong People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C., one of hundreds around the country. My husband and I joined 1,200 others in Springfield, and were struck by a tone and integrity different from past such rallies.

What distinguished the Springfield March for Climate, Jobs and Justice?

First, it was bigger. As an organizer, I have known the frustration of encouraging people to show up to make the needed case. Political activity is not on most people’s front burner. Jobs (often more than one) kids, housework — the immediate — need to be taken care of before dealing with climate change, war, or immigration.

Too, there is a feeling of powerlessness in the face of government and corporate policy, and some anxiety about the kickback of taking a public stand. Most people may have strong feelings about the headlines but encounter a certain embarrassment at the thought of marching holding a sign and repeating “The people united will never be defeated!” I get it.

But the Trump era has changed a lot of things. His and his administration’s brutal racism and sexism, his open embrace of the wealthiest at the expense of public interest, his ignorance and willingness to endorse the most cockamamy excuses for his actions have both frightened and emboldened people. And once they have been out in the streets, the empowerment, existential meaning and social connection are a welcome alternative to despair and a stiff drink.

Second, it was broader. On April 29, we marched for climate justice, the concept that we can and we must reverse the deep-seated inequity of our society even as we fight against climate change. In my many years as a political activist, I have found that often people’s personal and cultural needs have interfered with our ability to get along.

Environmentalism has been viewed as a “white thing.” White people don’t show up for Black Lives Matter or immigration rights events. Racism, sexism, genderism and just plain individual needs have divided folks who should have been supporting each other around issues of human rights and a sustainable world.

But again, Trumpism has made us examine our priorities. Although the majority of marchers were white folks, Springfield’s diverse neighborhoods and unions were well represented and had skin in the game. Hip hop artist Tem Blessed gave the most sophisticated analysis of the intertwining of our social problems and environmental destruction, blending his experiences as a young victim of police brutality with his longing for a sustainable world. The march endorsed the May Day immigrant workers strike and the rights of women to equal pay for equal work.

It was a good step forward and I am deeply grateful to all who came out and made the long march. Those who went to D.C. get special respect for having borne the hottest April 29 in recorded history. We still have jobs, kids and homes to attend to, but we thoughtfully chose to sacrifice a day for more intangible but absolutely necessary ideals.

Two recent studies point out both the dangers of our not acting on climate justice and the benefits of confronting it. A January study by Ray Bradley of UMass found that New England will warm faster than all other parts of the country except Alaska and will reach a 2-degree Centigrade rise by 2025. Snow will become a relatively rare commodity and wintertime rain and flooding will prevail. It confirms previous studies that indicated Boston’s sea level will rise higher than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2100, causing flooding in 30 percent of the area.

On the other hand, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health last week published research on the impacts of putting a fee on all gas, oil and coal coming into the state, what is called a “carbon fee.” They found that the implementation of either of the two bills before the Massachusetts Legislature now, S.1821 (An Act Combating Climate Change), and H.1726 (An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Create Jobs), would result in 349 lives and $2 billion in health benefits saved in Massachusetts from 2017 through 2040. The decrease in pollution that would occur as we combat climate change would also reduce asthma, heart attacks and stroke.

The flooding, extreme heat and pollution-related disease always have weighed heavier on poor and low-wage working communities, particularly those of color. Precarious housing, lack of transportation and air conditioning, and increased direct exposure to pollutants in these communities make them particularly vulnerable to the ravages of bad air and climate change, though they have contributed the least to the problem.

The climate justice movement has always made sense. The lives most at risk are the lives already weighed down by economic stress and racism. We in the climate movement are finally beginning to get it. And act on it.

Marty Nathan, MD, is a mother and grandmother who lives in Northampton and works at Baystate Brightwood Health Center in Springfield’s North End. She is a steering committee member of Climate Action NOW.

Press release: Public Denied Access to Otis State Forest; Local Activists Vow Peaceful Resistance


Public Denied Access to Otis State Forest; Local Activists Vow Peaceful Resistance
For Immediate Release
Contact: Abigail Ferla at and 860-882-7510

With tensions building regarding the controversial Connecticut Expansion Project in Sandisfield, MA, the normally sleepy Otis State forest has become the site of 24/7 private security detail and the apparent focus of intensifying law enforcement at the local and state level.

As the Berkshire Eagle reported Monday, “Tennessee Gas has hired three Massachusetts State Police details for daylight hours and eight full-time security guards for around-the-clock coverage” for security at the site.

Meanwhile, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) acting on behalf of Kinder Morgan and their Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (TGP) affiliate, has begun dramatically restricting access to the state forest– apparently in an attempt to stifle expected protests. In the last week, signs have been appearing at access points to the forest, restricting the public from entering the tax-payer-owned forest.

Area closed to public access,” the signs read, “This area is subject to a temporary construction easement.”

In stark contrast to the response of Kinder Morgan, about fifty residents of Western Mass met in a large circle Tuesday night to recommit to their values of non-violence, civil disobedience, and peaceful resistance to fossil fuels– regardless of the heavy security presence. TGP hopes to begin felling thousands of trees on or about Thursday, April 27, but the activists, calling themselves the Sugar Shack Alliance, are determined to keep up their opposition on the ground, in courts, and in the media.

We need to protect our forests, not build pipelines through them,” said Sugar Shack Member Susan Theberge Wednesday, “We are facing climate chaos. We need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable energy future.”

The group, calling itself the Sugar Shack Alliance, is a coalition of activists based in Western Massachusetts. Sugar Shack Alliance is rooted in the principles of non-violence. Originally formed in resistance to the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, Sugar Shack has expanded its mission to resist all expansion of the fossil fuel industry. All members of the alliance are committed to non violence, have completed eight hours of comprehensive nonviolent direct action training, are members of affinity groups, and agree on all decisions using a consensus-based model. The group has proactively met with both local Sandisfield and State Police officials to keep channels of communication open, ensure the safety of all involved, and the peaceful nature of actions.

Cate Woolner, a member of Sugar Shack, described the group’s strategies as “imaginatively nonviolent,” explaining that the SSA’s code of conduct “includes a commitment to no property destruction, peaceful actions, and the presence of peacekeepers, legal observers, and police liaisons at all actions.”

Woolner added, “Anyone who acts outside of these conditions is not endorsed or part of Sugar Shack.”

In conjunction with their presence on the ground, the group has launched a creative social media project emblematic of its mission. This #whyiprotect project, found as a hashtag on Twitter and group on Facebook, is driven equally by a profound concern for the accelerating pace of climate disruption and by a deep reverence for places like Otis State Forest and the conservation principles that are meant to protect them.

In his first #whyiprotect entry, the project’s curator, Bob Barba of the Affinity Ashfield group, wrote, “I still abide by the apparently quaint notion that conservation land is actually conserved in perpetuity and not just unless and until we find some profitable or expedient reason to destroy it.”

In the past year, this 3.8 mile piece of the CT Expansion Project has faced ongoing opposition from local residents, private citizens, environmentalists, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – which owns the land in conservation. Though Article 97 of the state constitution states that publicly-owned land cannot be used for private interests, the state was forced through federal eminent domain law to reach a settlement with the company in December.

For more information, see Those who would like to contribute messages, quotes, songs, and/or images to the whyiprotect Facebook page can email them to Follow the project at @whyiprotect.



Would you like to help with the April 29 Western Mass Climate Justice March?

If you wish to help with this march, here are some ways:

* Please spread the word about the march, invite people, and make solid plans to show up with  your friends and family on this important day. 

—     Click HERE for the march webpage.     

—     Click HERE for the facebook event.

* If you would like to help organize or volunteer to help setup on march day, please email us at


* If you are on facebook, please share the event and rsvp/going to the event. 

Here is the facebook event page for the march:

* Financial – a march like this comes with expenses such as port-a-johns and staging.

If you would like to contribute, you can use paypal or a check. 

— Paypal – use this donate button


 — Check: please make your check payable to “Climate Action Now”, put “March” in the for line
and mail it to our treasurer  
Rene Theberge, 250 Shutesbury Road, Amherst, MA 01002

 **** Thank you! ****

Sample Constituent Meeting Agenda

Sample Constituent Meeting Agenda    

This is a sample to guide you; use your own words and let the conversation flow as much as possible! Remember – if the legislator or staff ask a question and you don’t know the answer, it’s a great opportunity to say: “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you!”

Pre-meeting preparation

Know your legislator (familiarize yourself with especially the CAN priority bills they have sponsored/co-sponsored, committee chairmanships and memberships, interests, bio, district, endorsements by organizations, and website)

Go over the agenda

Decide on facilitator and speakers, order of speaking

Agree on ground rules

Determine a note taker______________________

Arrive 5 min early


Bring copies of relevant materials/folders etc.

Introduction – speaker ____________

Facilitator gives a brief description of the organization and its interest in the issue.

Suggests participant introductions.

Participants introduce themselves with their affiliations. Give legislator/staff the materials with a quick explanation.

Confirm how much time allotted for the meeting.

Thank you – speaker ________________

Thank the legislator for current or past work on your issue or related issues and for taking the time to meet.

Personal story – speaker ________________

Give a personal story about why you care about taking action on climate, and why support for these issues is important to you and your community. Ask legislator/staff about their experiences.

Issues Update and Talking Points (may change monthly) – Speakers _____________________

  1. Explain reason for CAN 12 Point Plan – written due to the emergency nature of climate disruption. CAN has determined priority bills supporting each point.

  1. Legislature needs to step up on climate and not treat as business as usual. Climate needs to be top priority – not traded away for any other issues.

  1. CAN will be rating legislators on their strong and public support for legislation.

  1. We urge support for (or thank for) acknowledgment that we are moving toward 100% renewable energy and opposition to new fossil fuel infrastructure.

  1. We urge support for accelerating the move away from fossil fuels and to 100% renewables by increasing the RPS to 3%, removal of solar net metering cap, rapid development of increased, resilient battery storage, and moving the building and transportation sectors rapidly to become electrified and energy efficient approaching zero net energy.

  1. We urge you to support other bills on the list on building, transportation, energy efficiency, carbon pricing, divestment, financing, green jobs. We feel that the legislature is capable of tackling this problem from multiple angles so that we can actually prevent the worst climate disruption. Every piece of the puzzle helps to get us to our goal more quickly.

Asks – Speaker _________________

Support all of the CAN bills, a comprehensive approach.

Promote urgent, accelerated action on climate by showing public support, raising visibility, working with colleagues.

Remind of scorecard criteria and ask to contact us with anything creditable.

Convince a non-supporting colleague to support a particular bill.

Sign the pledge not to take fossil fuel or utility money.

Close – Speaker ___________________

Thanks the legislator or staff member for their time.

Find out if staff member has questions or would like any additional information.

Confirm the information you will follow-up with; and the next meeting time.

Be sure to get contact information for any relevant staff members!

End with a final thank you for time and support, and that you look forward to staying in touch.

Debrief – Facilitator ___________________

How did it go? Did you accomplish your goals? What were the responses to asks? What is the follow up and who will do it? Who will edit and provide notes to the group?

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