April 2021 Newsletter
We're Celebrating the Success of Our
First Major Legislative Effort!
Finally - on March 26, Governor Baker signed into law the major Roadmap climate legislation that has been ECA Massachusetts' top priority. For the past four years, many of us phoned, emailed, tweeted and met with our representatives and senators, attended lobby days and hearings on Beacon Hill, passed out Roadmap buttons and flyers, wrote letters to the editor, organized virtual rallies and meetings, made presentations and planned strategy with our members and climate allies. The result of this intensive advocacy is landmark legislation in the fight to address climate change - the Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy!

THANK YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who participated, and especially to Representative Joan Meschino, who sponsored the original Roadmap bill in the Massachusetts House and deserves much credit for this victory. It has been an honor and pleasure to work with her, and we appreciate her determination, courage and steady guidance, walking with climate advocates and other legislators all the way to the end of this long road. See our letter of thanks and appreciation to Rep. Meschino here.)

Read more below about the Next-Generation Roadmap, next steps for the new state legislative session and other good climate news to celebrate.

In this Issue
  • Save the Date - Chapter Meeting 4/13 and Deep Dialogue 4/26
  • Governor Baker Signs Landmark Climate Bill
  • MassDEP Revokes Approval of Springfield Biomass Plant
  • ECA Mass Priorities and Partners for New Legislative Session
  • What We're Reading - The New Climate War

Governor Baker Signs Landmark Climate Bill
On March 26 Governor Baker finally signed into law Senate Bill 9 - An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. The signing followed lengthy legislative debate and negotiation in 2020, an initial veto by the governor in 2020, more negotiation on Baker’s amendments in 2021, then swift re-passage of the bill in 2021 with supermajorities in both houses. It took way too long to get this bill passed, but it is now law! Yahoo!

ECA was in the thick of all this action working closely with our Roadmap Coalition partners and Rep. Joan Meschino (Thank you Joan!!) and with many other climate advocates. The law has been called “landmark” and “sweeping” and surely deserves those labels.

The new law requires that Massachusetts reduce its carbon emissions by at least 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 75 percent by 2040, and achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050. To offset any lingering use of fossil fuels or other ongoing greenhouse gas emissions we will have to support planting of trees in Massachusetts or in the region or find other ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The law calls for utilities to buy significantly more offshore wind and solar power. It also has broad ramifications for all forms of transportation, building heating, and for the business community, touching everything from the solar industry to building codes, to electric vehicle sales, the MBTA, municipal light plants, land use, and more. New protections for environmental justice communities and increasing energy-efficiency requirements for appliances are also included.

The challenge now is in implementation, including finding the funding for incentives to increase electric vehicle purchases and building electrification and drafting the rules and regulations to make it all happen. We will have more on these challenges in upcoming communications.
More to Celebrate!
MassDEP Revokes Approval of Proposed
Springfield Biomass Plant
We climate activists have had many reasons to cheer recently as strong climate measures and legislation have been initiated at both the federal and state levels. (See more in this newsletter, above.) We haven’t had the chance for quite a while, though, to salute a victory at the local level…until the April 2 decision by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection revoking approval of a proposed Springfield biomass-fired power plant!

Local community groups had opposed the plant for over a decade as a dire threat to residents’ health in a neighborhood that was already dubbed the “asthma capital of the US.” (See image below, from a protest banner.)
Heightened environmental justice concern was cited by the MassDEP, along with the technical reason of a ten-year delay in construction. The real reason for the revocation – which the company has ten days to appeal – is that community activists and statewide climate advocates joined forces to demand that environmental justice be considered paramount in any decision regarding the plant. Score one for the community and for climate justice! For more information, read the MassDEP letter, here.
ECA Massachusetts Priorities and Partners
For 2021-2022 Legislative Session
Legislative Update

The ECA Massachusetts Legislative Team has been very busy sorting through more than 200 bills related to climate and environmental justice filed since the new state legislative session began in January 2021. At our upcoming chapter meeting (on Tuesday, April 13 - see Save the Date, above), we will present an initial list of our top legislative priorities and another list of bills we propose to support that our allies have identified as their priorities.

The Team also has worked with many of our allies on drafting comments to the governor on the draft 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP). You can see the full list of comments here. The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in addition to addressing a flood of comments, will need to revise the CECP to reflect some new mandates in the newly-signed climate law. We anticipate this will take many weeks and will keep you posted.

New Partners for New Legislative Session

For the past two legislative sessions we have partnered with various coalitions on lobbying and other actions, including the Roadmap Coalition, and Mass Power Forward (MPF), a long-term partner in this work. We expect that ECA Massachusetts will continue to partner with other legislative-focused organizations such as those we worked with in the coalition supporting the Roadmap bill, with the Carbon Pricing Coalition, as well as with frontline groups like Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS).
We also will be looking for new partner organizations and invite you to let us know of groups that you feel are doing good, science-based work on legislation or on implementation of policies to protect the future climate. Two partners we are looking at now are New England for Offshore Wind and the Gas Leaks Allies. Let us know if you are interested in either of these groups.
Recently, the focus of MPF has shifted from climate change to the concerns of environmental justice (EJ) communities and frontline organizations with pollution in their communities and with the challenges that climate change and related policies bring. We support MPF in this work and will continue to support critical EJ initiatives.
We will remain focused on our main priority, which is to leave the best environment we can for future generations locally and globally by moving as quickly as possible to mitigate climate change in collaboration with our allies in the climate movement as well as with business, industry, local, state and federal government.
What We're Reading
The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet
By Michael E. Mann (2021)
Michael E. Mann is a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and is one of the scientist leaders of the climate change movement. If you are actively wrestling with effective strategies for addressing climate change, his new book, The New Climate War, is must reading.

The “old” climate war, which was centered on denial, has given way to a “new” climate war. As the hoax theories falter, opponents have launched a new campaign of “deflection” involving a powerful array of D’s: disinformation, deceit, divisiveness, delay, despair-mongering and doomism. It’s important for us to be familiar with their names and strategies, and Mann lays it all out. Doomism arguably poses a greater threat to climate action than outright denial.

Mann’s prescription is to embrace renewable energy and he is optimistic about what it promises. Not all would agree, and indeed, he has his detractors. But he is an important voice in considering the road forward.

-- Tony Lee


Do you have a book review suggestion? Send your ideas to Newsletter Editor Diane Rapaport.
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.