February 2022 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • Save the Date!
  • An Effective Low Cost Way to Slow Climate Change
  • Five ECA Mass Priority Bills Receive Committee Approvals
  • Acton Leads the Way on Local Climate Solutions
  • Build Back Better - Not Dead Yet!
  • ECA Mass Members Speak Out in the Globe - Write YOUR Letters!
  • Learning About Ourselves: Early ECA Mass Survey Findings
  • Featured Video: Fresh Water and Climate Change
  • What We're Reading: Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation, by Paul Hawken
An Effective Low-Cost Way to Slow Climate Change
Rick Lent, ECA Mass Leadership and Legislative Teams

While several measures to raise funds to pay for the state’s climate legislation are in trouble (or dead for now), there are two bills still pending in the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture (ENRA) that would cost little if anything to implement and would help us meet the goals set out in the new Next-Generation climate law. H.912 would designate 400,000 acres of lands controlled by the MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) as parks and reserves and create new management standards to preserve the forests. H.912 along with H.1002, An Act Relative to Increased Protection of Wildlife Management, will:
  • fight climate change by allowing forests to grow back and stay standing to maximize atmospheric carbon removal and optimize long-term carbon storage
  • preserve large, contiguous tracts of forest, water, and wetlands that sustain full range of native diversity, which only public lands are now capable of providing
  • provide public benefits such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and economic diversification
  • contribute to the mitigation of climate change impacts for all Massachusetts residents, including environmental justice communities, coastal areas, and watersheds of urban centers.
Both bills would allow management flexibility to address public safety, environmental health, invasive species, and other legitimate concerns. They would require little or no increased funding to the agencies for implementation. In fact, they correct current practices in our forests that let the state DCR sell off rights to cut down forests and require funds to administer. This legislation would also head off attempts to cut forests for use in biofuel facilities which works against efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Our forests can help us fight climate change, but only if we change DCR’s management practices. These bills provide an effective low-cost way to slow climate change. We need the legislature to pass them as soon as possible.
What can you do now? Write your legislators and ask them to support H.912 and H.1002. Check these links to see if your elected officials are co-sponsors-
Members of the ENRA Committee can be found here: https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J21/192/Cosponsor  
Five ECA Mass Priority Bills
Receive Committee Approvals
ECA Mass Legislative Team

Several climate-related bills, including five ECA Mass priority bills, already have received a favorable report out from the Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) and Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) committees, including bills to:
●    Develop offshore wind energy (H.4348) *
●    Allow towns and cities to limit gas hook-ups in new construction (S.1333)*
●    Support electrification of MBTA buses (S.2130)
●    Support solar energy deployment (S.2180)
●    Support adoption of electric vehicles (S.2192)
●    Promote home energy efficiency (S.2196)
●    Regulate biomass combustion (S.2197) *
●    Decarbonize large and commercial buildings (S.2232)
●    Improve access to the electric grid (H.3313) *
●    Promote municipal reforestation (H.905) *
(* ECA Mass priority bills)
Other important bills are still pending in several committees [see Rick Lent's article above about two of our priority bills, H.912 and H.1002], and we hear it is possible that TUE and/or Ways and Means may craft a single climate bill that includes elements from many bills related to climate issues. Stay tuned.

Of ECA Mass’s six top priority bills, one (wind bill) was rolled into a bill package with a favorable report out, and the other five remain in committees, so favorable report outs are still possible this session. Of our 12 lower priority bills four have received committee approvals (see * above) and seven have yet to be reported out. One bill (decarbonize pension fund) was sent to study, which means no action this session. (See here for the status of all our supported bills.)

While it is somewhat good news that some climate bills have received favorable report outs, and others remain alive in committee, there is no guarantee that any of these bills will get a floor vote or become law. The bills reported out have been referred to the House or Senate Ways and Means Committees where they may be rewritten and /or combined with other bills. Whether any bill gets out of Ways and Means and goes on to a floor vote depends a lot on what House and Senate leaders decide about their priorities for this session.
Legislative Team members have been working on a comprehensive analysis of bills aimed at decarbonizing buildings with the objective of identifying key elements we want in any buildings or omnibus climate bill that has a chance of passing.
After we perform a comprehensive review of bills reported out and of those still in committee, we will be working with our Roadmap Coalition allies to advocate for a bill or bills that contain the key elements we agree are priorities in the buildings, transportation, energy, and natural lands sectors. There is lots of work to be done to sort all this out.
Stay on the lookout for Action Alerts in February and March aimed at urging our legislators to support development and passage of the legislation we need to get Massachusetts on track for a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
If you want to find out which climate bills get favorable report outs from committees, clink the links below and scroll down to see the list.
●    TUE
●    Transportation
Acton Leads the Way on Local Climate Solutions
Paul Reisberg, ECA Mass Research Team and Acton Climate Coalition
Just as Massachusetts has led the nation in showing what a state can do to address our climate emergency, the Town of Acton intends to be a leader within the Commonwealth, demonstrating a path forward toward Net Zero emissions. In December, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources acknowledged Acton's efforts by bestowing on it the agency's Leading by Example Award.
The story began 40 years ago as Acton wrestled with contamination of some of its drinking water wells — by what would become the WR Grace Superfund site. Concerned residents organized a monitoring group which would become Green Acton, a group dedicated to local environmental issues. More recently, as the realities of climate change have become increasingly apparent, Green Acton has worked to advance a number of initiatives — some in collaboration with the Town — to address climate and other critical environmental issues.

2010: Acton received a Green Community designation and adopted a Stretch Building Code.
2012: Solarize Acton led to a group buy of 36 solar roofs at discount.
2015: A pay-as-you-throw program was begun at the transfer station.
2017: The town completed a Methane Survey documenting gas leaks along town streets.
2018: The Acton Select Board passed a town-wide Sustainability Policy.
  • A Town Inventory of Greenhouse Gases was completed.
  • A 1.6 MW solar field was installed on the (capped) Town landfill.
  • The beginning of a conversion of the police fleet to hybrids. Two rail trails were established.
  • Construction began on a net-zero, all-electric fire station.
  • Construction of a Triple Net-Zero (energy, water, waste), fossil-free school building began, using ground source heat pumps and solar panels.
  • Green Acton, Mothers Out Front, 350 Mass, ECA Mass, the Sunrise Movement and others coalesced to form the Acton Climate Coalition (ACC), comprising 38 organizations, businesses and faith communities.
2020: In Acton’s biggest step yet, the ACC brought a warrant article to Town Meeting — a Climate Emergency Resolution — that called for the town to achieve Net-Zero emissions by 2030, 20 years ahead of the State target. The article passed nearly unanimously, leading to more big changes in 2021.
  • A full-time sustainability director was hired, primarily to develop and implement a climate action plan, but also, to advance sustainability broadly.
  • Acton is among the first towns in Massachusetts to begin developing a Climate Action Plan, which will identify strategies to curb community-wide greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the Net Zero 2030 target in the 2020 Declaration of a Climate Emergency.
  • ACC proposed a Building with Clean Energy resolution for a local bylaw to prevent fossil fuel hookups in new construction, which passed with overwhelming support at Town Meeting.
  • ACC and the Town’s Sustainability Office developed and sponsored EnergizeActon.org, a web platform that guides residents, businesses, and others toward reducing their carbon footprints. It includes (1) opting up to Acton Power Choice GREEN, an 100% renewable electricity supply and (2) the Acton Clean Energy Challenge, which offers free consultations on the transition to heat pump technology.
2022: Acton has reduced energy consumption by 30% over the past decade. This year, we continue to push forward with completion of the Climate Action Plan and with proposed Town Meeting warrant articles from the Coalition on developing a road map for complete electrification of the Town’s municipal and school buildings and furthering our Climate Emergency efforts for Net Zero 2030.

Net Zero in 8 years is an overwhelming task, but this is an emergency and Acton is going all-in. Stay tuned.
Build Back Better - Not Dead Yet!
Seth Evans, ECA Mass Leadership Team

At the risk of sound callous during a pandemic, it’s hard not to compare the fate of the Build Back Better bill, which contains $550 billion in tax credits and subsidies to mitigate climate change – as well as a host of other health and social programs – to the poor soul in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” who shouts, “I’m not dead!” while he’s being loaded onto the death cart during a plague in the Middle Ages.
At the end of December, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin effectively killed Build Back Better, already approved by the House, by refusing to include it in a reconciliation measure. He reiterated his pronouncement this week, saying “It’s dead,” when questioned by reporters, but he has left the door slightly open for a smaller bill that would carry a lower price tag. For now, it also appears that Manchin remains open to at least most of the old bill’s climate subsidies and incentives.

It is now up to the Biden administration and the 50 Senate Democrats to come to agreement on the basic elements of a new bill, which is unlikely to happen until March at the earliest. ECA Massachusetts, while supporting passage of the entire Build Back Better bill, will also support any bill that would contribute to reducing emissions by 50% by 2035. Stay tuned to this space for information about how we here in Massachusetts can play a relevant role in its passage.
ECA Mass Members Speak Out in the Globe
Write YOUR Letters!
Kudos to ECA Mass members Bern Kosicki, Margie Lee and Rick Lent whose letters to the editor were published in the Boston Globe last month!

Bern and Rick focused on building codes and looked to Beacon Hill to take more action to implement the climate goals set in the state's 2050 Roadmap. Bern's letter on Jan. 31 pointed out that “The Department of Public Utilities was tasked to create a special stretch zoning code for review last fall, but it was stalled, reportedly due to pressure from the building and development community.” Bern warned: “If development is encouraged to continue using gas or oil to heat new buildings, then the Commonwealth’s laws eliminating greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to succeed.”

Rick explained (also Jan. 31) that “town officials appear to have little to go on to change building codes to meet requirements of the state’s next-generation road map and Clean Energy and Climate Plan. In fact, town officials have received little, if any, guidance on how to proceed.” And he wondered if “our lawmakers [are] committed to pushing forward the necessary legislation now in front of them to implement the climate measures the next-generation bill requires?”

On Jan. 24 Margie wrote: “It’s true that Massachusetts has set some of the most ambitious climate goals in the country, but putting these goals into practice is not automatic or guaranteed." She continued: “Deception, denial, and foot-dragging have thwarted progress to where we are now: in the danger zone. All of our lives are affected, so it is foremost a public policy issue, and we all are needed, not just scientists and politicians.... And we can all begin by talking to family, neighbors, and friends."
Write YOUR letters to the editor of the Boston Globe or your local paper and speak out on climate! Reach out to Rick Lent of our new ECA Mass Communication Team for suggestions.
Learning about Ourselves
Early ECA Mass Survey Findings
Roger Luckmann, ECA Mass Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team has been looking for member input via a survey (https://forms.gle/eGaHjsUVvdgjtNWPA). So far we have received responses from 67 members living in 48 towns, almost all of whom are readers of our newsletter. Here are a few interim findings:
Nearly all respondents are members of other climate organizations and about half are active in climate/environmental groups, most commonly 350.org, Sierra Club, and Mothers Out Front.

About ⅔ of those responding endorsed each of four reasons for engaging with ECA Mass:
  • Make a contribution to climate movement
  • Engage in legislative activity
  • Engage with other climate activists
  • Stay up to date with climate issues and the climate movement

About 60% regularly respond to our Action Alerts, attend ECA Mass meetings and Deep Dialogues.

About half would like to get together with ECA Mass members in their local area, possibly to connect on local climate actions. Our Membership Development Team wants to facilitate that as soon as we can.

Members were particularly interested in learning more about four topics:
  • Climate policy and politics (63%)
  • Ways to mitigate climate change (50%)
  • Biodiversity loss (35%)
  • Environmental and climate justice (38%)

About 20% are interested in an ECA Mass climate book club or film series.
To learn more about your interests and concerns and how to make ECA Mass a more effective organization we need to hear from members who are active at all levels, from limited engagement to very active. Your leadership team is already studying these interim results to explore ways we can better meet everyone’s needs.
If you have not yet responded to the survey, you can still do so here. It only takes 5 minutes. Please consider letting us know how ECA Mass can serve you better!
Featured Video
Did you know that only 2.5% of water on Earth is fresh water? And only a small portion of that fresh water is available, at the surface in lakes and rivers, and in groundwater, to sustain human, plant and animal life. Floods, drought and extreme weather are much in the news, as climate change exacerbates our water problems.
Betty Krikorian of our Research Team took us on a deep dive into Fresh Water and Climate Change at January's ECA Mass Deep Dialogue, with a fascinating presentation that helped us understand the increasing threats to our precious fresh water resources. She explored water management and its potential for climate change mitigation, highlighting the water challenges in three very different geographical regions of the United States. Watch the presentation video, with the Q&A and lively discussion here, and access the presentation slides here.

You can find more videos from past ECA meetings at https://ecamass.org/eca-mass-meeting-videos/
What We're Reading
Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation
By Paul Hawken (Penguin Books, 2021)
One of the first questions in my mind when I saw environmentalist Paul Hawken's latest book was: how does it differ from his 2017 bestseller, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming? The format and breadth of ideas in his new Regeneration seems similar. And yet, I found this book to be more helpful and different in many ways than Drawdown. I recommend it. 

Regeneration is encyclopedic in its scope, with chapters on oceans, forests, land, people, food, and industry to name a few. In each chapter there are multiple, concise, information-packed segments on specific areas. For example, in the forest chapter, there are separate sections on proforestation, boreal forests, tropical forests, afforestation, peatlands, agroforestry, fire ecology and bamboo.

The chapter on industry has sections on “big food,” healthcare, banking, clothing, plastics and even poverty. This chapter concludes with a section on moving actions from offsets to onsets to address carbon produced. Hawken critiques the history of buying offsets and how these often have been sham actions by corporations trying to look greener. But then he describes the concept of onsets ­– “activities by individuals, companies, and nations that remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release and store the carbon for as long as possible in natural sinks" (p. 246). He explains that “traditional offset projects could be turned into onsets with additional carbon sequestration activity – measured, monitored and verified by third parties…. Instead of paying of a promissory note for your carbon debt, an onset pays your debt forward. It makes a payment to another person or community, possibly disadvantaged, for a subsequent good carbon deed” (pp. 246-47).

Like Drawdown, the scope of this book is encyclopedic and supported by a staff of researchers. But unlike Drawdown, the focus of Regeneration is on actions that people are taking or could take now…in this generation. Throughout, there is an emphasis on what people are already doing, and particularly on what indigenous people have known and done in the past and are doing today. From such actions and ancient wisdom comes hope for the future and ideas for actions many of us can take. A great book for a study group to read together. Let us know if you are interested in starting one.

-- Rick Lent
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.