Guest Op-Ed: The Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy has been refiled

By Carol Walker

“An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy” passed hours before the end of the last legislative session with the result of the strongest climate legislation passed in over a decade.  Environmentalists, including myself and quite a number of people were very disappointed that Governor Baker vetoed it but with Speaker Mariano and key legislative support, it has already been refiled with no changes as S.9, and could possibly get a floor vote this Thursday or probably next week at the latest.  The governor will have ten days to decide on it but there seems to be enough votes to override another veto.

To define, this bill raises the 2050 emissions goal from an 80% reduction in emissions (relative to 1990 levels) to “net zero.”  Net Zero means not just that carbon emissions will be reduced but that any residual emissions are offset by practices like expanding and protecting forests or developing new carbon capture technology.  There are also also mandates for 10 year statewide missions targets and a directive for the Governor to set interim 5-year targets from 2020 with written progress reports.  So there’s a lot of accountability and a quickening of pace.

The broadness of what this bill covers goes beyond the electricity-generating sector;  the bill expands its mandate to all sectors, facilitating the transition to alternative energy systems by creating options for gas companies to supply geothermal energy on a utility scale as an alternative to gas, increasing the State’s commitments to offshore wind, and easing restrictions on the generation of solar energy and energy storage.  Along the way, responsible management of the distribution of gas, increased stakeholder participation and transparency, and penalties for safety violations will be fostered.

We see clear benefits to Winthrop most especially with the environmental justice part of the bill.  The Next Generation Roadmap Bill not only defines what constitutes an Environmental Justice community (EJ for short) as has been done before, but provides the force of law with the term.  And Winthrop is one of these EJ communities since a major airport, Logan Airport, is located just a few miles away by car through our East Boston neighboring city, and we can see the landing strip from one of our beaches.  The noise from the planes, very loud at times since they fly right above our town and often low enough that we can read the names on the planes, is one problem for us along with an extremely high asthma rate.  Then we do get extra protections with it by virtue of being a seaside community.  The bill also gives us the right to actively participate as stakeholders in decisions on committees as community representatives for our cause in mitigation efforts. 

Mothers Out Front is committed to the welfare of all children now and into the future.  We are committed to working with those most impacted by severe weather, pollution and climate change, to reduce both the risks of these impacts and the costs to mitigate them.  We welcome the legal protections this bill provides to vulnerable communities like ours in Winthrop.

We need everyone to call Governor Baker NOW at 617-725-4005 to tell him that you want him to sign S.9, the Next Generation Roadmap Climate Bill, just the way it is without making any changes or amendments because we need it as is for our children to have a healthy, future.  And let our Senator know you sent the message.  If you can’t get through to his line, then you can send him an email at [email protected]  Industries will try to pressure Baker to request some changes favoring them but…we need this bill the way it is!!!   So PLEASE do this important calling of Governor Baker!Carol Walker of Winthrop is a member of Mothers Out Front

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