Dear Friend, 

As the New Year approaches, I'd like to share some of what I’m seeing and hearing. Wishing the happiest of holidays to you and your loved ones.


Hadn’t done this before: Drove a new EV (a Kia EV6) 392 miles north, through rural New England and Canada, to Quebec City. Joined my colleagues Sen. Will Brownsberger, House Majority Leader Mike Moran, and House Chair Mike Day for two days of climate policy talks with our counterparts in the provincial assembly to discuss green innovation, Quebec hydro, and Quebec-California cap and trade. 

I propose that Massachusetts take a close look at joining the Western Climate Initiative -- the largest greenhouse gas emissions trading program in North America -- which already links Quebec and California. Participating in this "cap, trade, and dividend" program would give Massachusetts a proven way to bring down emissions from buildings and transportation. We need new tools in the climate toolbox.

More than 100 local grassroots activists flocked to the State House to protest the proposed expansion of private jet hangars at Hanscom Airfield. The Massachusetts Port Authority and the project’s developers seemed to think their proposal -- which would greatly expand the site’s capacity for super-emitting private jets -- would encounter little opposition. They were wrong. 

Until now, people concerned about climate, along with their elected representatives, have concentrated on cleaning up buildings, cars and trucks, and the electric power supply.  

Thanks to MassPort, we’ve pivoted. Not by choice, and not that we saw it coming, but we’re learning we’ve got to focus on aviation and its devastating implications for climate change.  

In seriously entertaining a proposal to build multiple new hangars for super-polluting private jets at Hanscom, MassPort is on the verge of a terrible two-fer: aiding and abetting the warming of the planet, and pandering to the concentration of private wealth. You can’t do much worse than that. 

Read my full remarks

Met with local Housing Authority representatives from Waltham and Concord. Major topic: the Governor’s new housing bond bill. The good news is there's wide agreement that we need more housing. Pleased to see the real estate transfer fee provision included, which would give communities the option to impose a charge on expensive property sales to fund affordable housing projects. The fee -- which could be set between 0.5% and 2% -- would apply to the portion of the sale over $1 million.

Later on, I went to Salem to join the Lt. Governor to announce that Lexington and Salem, our respective hometowns, are among the first to achieve full MBTA Communities Law compliance. The new statute requires MBTA towns to have at least one zoning district where multi-family housing is allowed as of right.


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Senator Paul Mark invited Senate members of the energy committee out to Pittsfield for a hearing on gas and electric pricing in Western Massachusetts. Along with a powerhouse Berkshire delegation -- State Reps Smitty Pignatelli, Tricia Farley-Bouvier, and John Barrett (no relation) -- we heard from the Healey administration, electric and gas utilities, and experts. 

One question we asked: Why are municipal aggregation programs -- in which towns purchase electricity in bulk on behalf of residents -- less common in Western MA, relative to the rest of the state? One explanation was that smaller towns lack the resources, which underlines the case for regional cooperation.

The American Revolution’s 250th birthday is fast approaching in 2025, and soon all eyes will be on Massachusetts, where it all started. A recently passed state supplemental budget provides $1 million for the event. Taking into account money included in another budget earlier this year, total state funding is now at $2 million.

Important next step: pressing the administration to share some of the new funds with cities and towns, including those in my district, who will bear the brunt of planning and executing a safe and memorable celebration.

GBH Greater Boston segment on proposed Hanscom expansion

State charts a new energy future for Mass., beyond natural gas

After the proceeding began three years ago, the DPU asked the gas companies to lead the first phase of the process, giving them the ability to write the first draft of a plan for reaching net-zero emissions in 2050. What’s more, advocates said they were shut out of the deliberations after the DPU under Baker took steps to limit their involvement. 

Then in 2022, the playing field shifted. Healey was elected governor, and the DPU was filled with her appointees who could rewrite the rules of the game. A bill signed into law earlier in 2022 included language that ensured the ultimate decision would be wrested from the Baker DPU, and handled instead by Healey’s administration. 

“Carrying this over to the new governor’s regime was putting it on uncharted ground,” said state Senator Michael Barrett, a co-author of the 2022 climate bill. “If you’re a gas utility, I think they had every reason to be concerned and this report would bear that out.” 

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Massachusetts is drowning in single-use plastics. Why not ban them?

Every year, people in Massachusetts generate a mountain of plastic waste — 3.4 billion plastic bottles, 2 billion plastic bags, countless takeout containers, shampoo bottles, coffee cup lids, and on and on. Add everything up, it’s bad for our health, clogging our waterways, and contributing planet-warming gases that fuel climate change.

Though both the bottle bill and the single-use plastics bills appear to have momentum in the Legislature — and with extra fuel thanks to Healey’s executive order banning single-use plastics at state offices — it’s not clear whether any will become law.

“Plastics, and waste-reduction in general, has been an orphan,” said Senator Michael Barrett, who was central to the state’s landmark climate laws. “We just haven’t managed to acknowledge that reducing waste and reducing plastic is critical to reducing emissions.”

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