October 2021 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • We are at the Brink: War on Democracy is an Attack on Climate
  • Action Alert: Support Bold Climate Action NOW
  • Save the Date!
  • ECA Mass Legislative Team Report
  • More ECA Mass Updates
  • Youth-Led Climate Frontlines Rally in Boston
  • Watch Videos of ECA Mass Meetings
  • ECA's Chelmsford Node Claims a Victory!
  • Membership Developments
  • Our Communication Team Needs Help
  • What We're Reading: Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal by Mark Bittman

We Are At The Brink
Let's be clear: The war on democracy
is an attack on climate
By Paul Dryfoos
Leadership Team, ECA Massachusetts
Steering Team, Elders for Sound Democracy (a project of Elders Action Network) 
Our democracy is under attack. That's very bad news for climate action, civil rights, fair taxation, health access, and a slew of other humane and responsible priorities heavily favored by the American public.

The right to vote is a crucial element of a functioning democracy. That’s why the recent spate of state legislative actions to sabotage the conditions for fair elections puts us at the brink of a dual civic and environmental disaster.
 
This surge in election sabotage has threatened America’s progress toward a more inclusive democracy at a time when climate change and many other challenges are reaching critical tipping points beyond which healing will be much more difficult. Legislatures in Arizona, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other key states are passing laws that undermine the freedom to vote in fair elections, especially for traditionally underrepresented groups like people of color, younger people, and urban residents.
 
BLATANT ELECTION SABOTAGE IS HAPPENING IN FULL VIEW
 
The same extremist politicians who spread lies about COVID and incited the attack on our Capitol are trying to undermine our democracy by making it harder for individuals to register and vote, widening the disparity in ease of voting between urban and non-urban voters, opening the door to partisan voter intimidation, and drawing rigged districts (i.e. gerrymandering), all of which undermines public confidence in elections. Given the makeup of the Supreme Court and the ruthlessness of these state lawmakers, the prospect of a “legally stolen” election is alarmingly plausible.
 
Most troubling is a trend that threatens the very foundation of our democracy: shifting the allocation of authority in election administration to partisan actors, by giving them the power to overrule non-partisan elections administrators. They are changing the rules so that partisan legislatures can interfere with election administration and simply throw out legitimate election results to pick the winners they prefer. In other words, the saboteurs are trying to create a system in which the elected officials choose the voters. This is blatantly undemocratic - we must hold the line on the principle that it’s the voters who choose the elected officials.
 
THE CLIMATE HANGS IN THE BALANCE
 
With the conspiracy to undermine democracy gaining traction, a livable climate hangs in the balance. There is an obvious and well documented money pipeline from fossil fuel interests to the politicians, grassroots agitators and media manipulators who are carrying out this assault on our basic freedom to live in a functional democracy. The front line political figures carrying out this assault on democracy may seem like buffoons, but their backers are sophisticated manipulators of legislation, elections and public opinion.
 
These saboteurs see the suppression of fair elections as a means of disempowering demographic groups who are most sympathetic to environmental regulation, fair taxation and enhanced public services. Polls over the past decade have consistently shown that people of color - including Black, Latino, Indigenous and Asian Americans - overwhelmingly support government action on climate change and environmental protection. Similarly, younger people are overwhelmingly in favor of climate action, but are less likely to register and vote. These are the groups that bear the brunt of voter suppression, which stacks the deck against aggressive climate action.
 
FEDERAL VOTING RIGHTS LEGISLATION IS OUR BEST AVAILABLE FIX
 
That’s why the passage of federal “guardrail legislation” is essential. Fortunately two excellent election protection bills have momentum in the Democratic caucus, and will soon come up for important Senate votes.
 
●    The Freedom to Vote Act would create nationwide standards for protecting the opportunity to register and vote, fair redistricting, campaign finance transparency, and fair administration of elections without partisan interference.
●    The John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore legal protections to minority voters that were ended by the Supreme Court in 2013.
 
Versions of both of these bills already have passed the House of Representatives. Senate Democrats appear united in support of both bills. However, they would need to either obtain 60 votes or modify the filibuster rule. Both of these scenarios are extremely challenging. That is why it is so important that we make sure that our elected representatives hear us loud and clear that - whatever it takes - get this done.
 
 WHAT MUST WE DO RIGHT NOW?
 
Our path forward is quite clear:
 
●    Demand that our federal elected representatives enact the two essential election protection bills, even if that requires a modification to the filibuster rules. Make calls and send letters to your Congressional delegation NOW. See instructions from Elders for Sound Democracy here.
●    Demand passage of historic climate legislation currently before Congress in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the budget reconciliation package (Build Back Better Plan). These bills provide hundreds of billions of dollars of support for the transition to a carbon-free economy, and could truly change the arc of history. See the Action Alert below, for details.
 
Elders Climate Action joins with hundreds of other concerned organizations to encourage a strong public outcry in support of these essential federal policies that could move our country a few steps back from the brink of civic and environmental disaster.
SUPPORT Bold Climate Action NOW!
 
With Congress extending its self-imposed deadline for acting on the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill until the end of October, intensive wrangling about its larger counterpart, the Reconciliation package, will certainly intensify in the coming weeks. Compromises are inevitable, but we must increase the pressure on members of Congress to at least include the original Reconciliation package’s strong climate provisions in the final package that emerges.
The most significant piece in the package is the Clean Electricity Payment Program (CEPP).  Modeled on clean energy standards (CES) already successful in some states, the CEPP would result in the U.S. electricity grid running on 80 percent clean energy by 2030. The program would pay utilities to source increasing quantities of power from renewables and clean energy, and penalize utilities that underperform. Cleaning up the electric grid would make it easier for other sectors of the economy, like transportation, homes and businesses, to convert to powering with clean energy. Another key piece of the package is the set of tax credits, for investing in renewable energy and incentivizing electrification of transportation and heating.

To have any hope of preventing a grim future for our children and grandchildren, WE CANNOT NOT ALLOW THIS MOMENT TO PASS WITHOUT RAISING OUR VOICES.

Even if you have already done so, we need to continue to call and write our U.S. Reps and Senators to tell them how these climate provisions MUST be included in the reconciliation budget in order to avoid the worst calamities predicted if global warming were to continue unchecked. For a call script link here.
Even more important, since we live in a deep blue state, please encourage friends and family living in purple states - including WV and AZ, but also ME, NJ and other states with moderate reps -- to do the same. Feel free to adapt the family and friends letter template here

We are close to the finish line -- finally -- on bold national climate action. Please help get the Reconciliation bill over the finish line by acting NOW.
ECA Mass Legislative Team Report
ON THE LEGISLATIVE FRONT, ECA MASS HAS BEEN ACTIVE AT BOTH THE STATE AND FEDERAL LEVELS
 
FEDERAL: At the federal level our focus has been on advocating for full funding of the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP) and clean energy tax credits in a budget reconciliation bill. The House reconciliation bill does include this funding, but we are waiting to see what the Senate comes up with in the next few days and weeks. It is entirely possible that funding for climate provisions of the bill could be under threat.
 
PLEASE JOIN US IN CALLING AND WRITING OUR U.S. REPS AND SENATORS! SEE THE ACTION ALERT ABOVE. We will keep our members posted on key developments and additional opportunities for targeted advocacy as needed. Stay tuned!
 
STATE: At the state level our legislative team has provided written testimony to hearings on two of our priority building bills for this session:
    An Act relative to building energy and decarbonization (H.3350/S.2202)
The Building Energy bill proposes several programs aimed at speeding up electrification of old and new buildings in the state while the Building Justice bill focuses on boosting energy efficiency in homes, especially in low income and environmental justice communities.

The legislative team and our bill managers continue to work on:
    Developing collaborations with other climate groups who support one or more of our priority bill
    Scheduling meetings with key joint House/Senate committee chairs, and
    Reaching out to all of our legislators to promote our bills and ask them to become cosponsors.

Our legislative team will be reaching out to ECA Mass members soon with a request to email or phone their local representatives senators about our priority bills. With our new Action Network software it can take just a couple of minutes to craft and send an email.

Under the leadership of Rep. Meschino, the Roadmap Coalition that was so effective in getting the Next Generation Roadmap bill passed last January will be reconvening to explore options for collaborating on climate legislation this session. ECA Mass plans to engage with the Coalition as we did in the past.

This month the Legislative Team will be hosting two medical students from UMass Chan Medical School who will be learning about the climate challenges in Massachusetts and proposed solutions and how the legislative process and related advocacy by ECA Mass and other groups is addressing these challenges. The students elected to engage with ECA Mass after reading our proposal for a climate advocacy experience in a catalogue of options for their Population and Community Health Clerkship.
More ECA Mass Updates
Youth-Led Climate Frontlines Rally in Boston
By Seth Evans, ECA Mass

Several hundred Boston youth and supporters, including ECA Mass members, came together for a youth-led Climate Frontlines Rally on September 24. With rallies taking place in over 1,400 cities around the world, this was the first large-scale, global, in-person climate change rally since the onset of the pandemic. The largest rally was in Berlin, where Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of over half a million protesters, declaring, “We can still turn this around. We demand change, and we are the change.” Fridays for Future, the organization Thunberg founded to mobilize youth for climate strikes around the world, expects to escalate its actions ahead of the United Nations meetings on climate change that culminate in Glasgow (CoP26) in early November. 

Spirits were high as the Boston group proceeded from the Public Garden, along Beacon Street to the State House, down Park Street, and then Tremont, before cutting in to the Commons and gathering at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Speakers from the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coaltion, Fridays for Future and other frontline youth climate organizations there called for state, national, and world leaders to come up with concrete action plans to drastically cut emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and provide reparations to the Global South from the Global North for its outsized role in causing the climate crisis.
Watch Videos of Our September Meetings
September 14 - MONTHLY CHAPTER MEETING

You've probably seen the acronyms RPS, CES, and CEPP, but you're not alone if you've been confused about what they mean and why they're so important in tackling climate change. Arnie Epstein and Roger Luckmann of our Research and Legislative Teams answered our questions and clarified what climate activists need to know about the state Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Clean Energy Standard (CES), and how those compare with the Clean Energy Performance Program (CEPP) in the federal Reconciliation Bill now in Congress.

After their informative talk, we heard from Leah Robins, Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Her engaging presentation focused on a state bill we support. H.3350/S.2202, An Act Relative to Building Energy and Decarbonization, filed by Massachusetts Rep. Joan Meschino and Sen. Jason Lewis. The bill provides a plan for how the state can address greenhouse gas emissions from new construction and existing buildings, empower municipal leadership, and ensure access for overburdened communities. Leah also told us about the wide-ranging climate initiatives of MAPC.

Watch the recording of the meeting with all the presentations, discussion and announcements here.
September 27 - DEEP DIALOGUE - ECA Mass Conversation Series

We've all heard of hydrogen, but did you know there's green hydrogen (and blue, turquoise, and grey hydrogen)? Did you know that hydrogen may be one of the energy sources to help address the climate crisis and get us to net-zero carbon emissions? Our September Deep Dialogue focused on the potential role of hydrogen in the clean energy transformation.

We heard from hydrogen expert Brad Bradshaw, president of the Hydrogen Energy Center, a non-profit organization that conducts research and provides educational forums on the application of hydrogen. He explained how the various types of hydrogen are produced, stored, and transported, and emerging applications for renewable hydrogen - and the key role it can play in decarbonizing our economy, particularly in "difficult to electrify" sectors. Brad brought clarity to a complicated and controversial subject, and graciously stayed on for an extended Q&A session after his presentation. You can watch the meeting video here. The slides from the presentation are here.
Did you miss some of our previous ECA Mass “Zoom” meetings or want to watch again? You can catch up with videos from our monthly chapter meetings, our periodic Deep Dialogue conversation sessions with experts on important climate issues, and our research team’s recent five-part educational series on “Getting to Net Negative – A Massachusetts Approach.” Check out the links to these informative videos and presentation slides here, or by clicking on the ECA Mass Meeting Videos featured post on the home page of our website, https://ecamass.org/.
ECA's "Chelmsford Node" Claims a Victory!
By Kathy Cryan-Hicks
Member of Chelmsford Action Network (CCAT) and ECA Mass
In June, Bern Kosicki presented a citizen’s petition at Town Meeting proposing that Chelmsford’s Select Board charge a committee to make recommendations for the town to achieve net-zero GHG by 2050. Over 85% of town reps voted yes on this article. Subsequently, Chelmsford's Select Board announced the formation of a nine-member “Clean Energy and Sustainability Committee” (CEaS) and invited residents to apply. "There was concern by Board members that there wouldn’t be enough applicants," explained Bern, so CCAT helped get the word out via emails, Facebook and various newspaper articles. The result: 21 people applied! The Select Board will interview the applicants in early October. Meanwhile, Dave Drayton and Tom Amiro have become Facebook gurus, learning algorithms and “bouncing posts” to keep them alive.
CCAT continues running its monthly Climate Conversations with the town's Library (see details about the upcoming October 14 program in this newsletter Save the Date section above), and occasionally holds special evening programs. One evening in September, Tim Cronin, State Director of Climate-Xchange, talked about the new MA Climate Law. A recording is available on CCAT's website: ChelmsfordClimate.org.

Bern has been busy arranging meetings with elected state officials for CCAT members to encourage faster implementation of the Next-Generation Roadmap law and to get support for the Green Future Act and other ECA Mass priority bills. On October 4, CCAT met with state Senator Michael Barrett, and on October 7, with Rep. James Arciero, one of Chelmsford’s four state reps. Bern says, “We want to ask the state to recognize town climate committees and create a portal to consolidate information and to promote benefits and incentives to municipalities.”

CCAT members also are busy with events outside of Chelmsford. On June 24, Tom and Bern participated in the North Central Regional Climate Change Collaboration meeting that was attended by U.S. Representative Lori Trahan and State Senator Edward Kennedy. On September 25, Tom brought his Tesla Y to the Drive Electric Week Expo in Lowell and took folks out for demo rides. He says, “It was a very rewarding experience.”
Bern sends this reminder: “Any town in Massachusetts should be able now to pass a net-zero-by-2050 resolution at town meeting. If your town doesn’t have such a resolution, contact CCAT for details on how to do it.
Membership Developments
By Maiyim Baron

After the fine time we had on September 8, when about 30 of us gathered in Seth Evans' Brookline back yard for a barbeque, we thought we would try to have more outdoor in-person ECA Mass gatherings while we can. "While we can" is the operative phrase here, as a September 28 get-together we planned for Newton and Brookline members was completely washed out by stormy weather. Yet, still while we can, we are planning to gather members from Belmont, Cambridge, Watertown and Arlington in a Belmont member's backyard in mid-October.
 
We'd love to do more of these outdoor gatherings. If you think you are the only ECA Mass member that you know of in your town, you might be surprised to see who else will show up if you call together a meeting! Our Membership Development team will back you up on this with a list of members in whatever zip codes you want to invite. Contact Maiyim Baron at MaiyimBaron@gmail.com if you want to organize a local gathering, and our team will help.
 
On October 5, we also held an orientation on Zoom for new members, to which eight new people came and had a good time meeting our Leadership Team and working groups. One new member offered enthusiastic feedback: "The orientation was outstanding! Very welcoming!!! Like several others, I will take a look at where I want to start participating." Exactly what we love to hear after a meeting like this. We will do these new member orientations on Zoom every few months for the new people we get signing up every week.
 
Let Maiyim know if you would like to have fun helping with events like these! 
Communication Team Needs Help
By Rick Lent

Do you have a background in writing, editing, graphics or social media? We need your skills! With the new state legislative session underway and a host of bills to support, ECA Mass needs new materials to use in lobbying efforts and to distribute broadly. We have six priority bills that need materials to explain and advocate, and we also must develop pieces for related bills. If you can help, please contact Rick Lent at rickmlent@gmail.com. Thanks!
What We're Reading
Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal
By Mark Bittman (Mariner Books, 2021)
This is a comprehensive survey of our relationship to food, from the earliest hunter-gatherer societies to today’s food for profit run by global agri-business firms with the mono-cropping, patented seeds and pesticides that we tend to take for granted. Mark Bittman lays out the gradual decline in the quality of the world’s diets and the loss of family farms even as we have produced more food. (The so-called “green revolution” of the 60s-70s comes in for particular criticism.)

In some ways, this book could be a wake-up call to our society not unlike Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel (both of which he references). Like Rachel Carson, he also points out the failures of government agencies intended to protect us (like the Food and Drug Administration) that largely protect the corporations who lobby them.

The final chapter tells a hopeful story of recent efforts to create healthy, environmentally sound and more sustainable food systems. He gives many examples of the so-called agroecology movement that work to rebuild our relationship with food. Such practices enable farmers (even small farmers) to grow healthier food for us, without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These practices can also enable farms to coexist with, even support, the local flora and fauna and sequester more carbon.

We may know Mark Bittman from his writing for the New York Times and as a food columnist. He just released a revised, tenth-anniversary edition of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. In effect it’s a kitchen table guide to healthy eating that supports the agroecology movement (and limits the need for factory farms raising meat products).

-- Rick Lent

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

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.