I was proud to speak in support of the historic Clean Energy Bill passed by the Massachusetts Senate last night. Below is a transcript of my floor remarks during the bill’s debate – Jamie.
“Madam President, I rise to speak in favor of this historic bill. S.2545, An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future. I am grateful for your leadership in bringing this bill to the floor of the Senate.
This bill builds upon the bold legislation that the Legislature passed last session, ensuring that Massachusetts remains the leader in the nation on combating climate change, investing in clean energy, and protecting our environment and the public safety of our residents. I would be remiss if I did not note and thank the previous Senator from Pittsfield, former State Senator Downing, for all of his great past work, which helped bring us to this day.
I want to thank the gentleman from Taunton, the chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the gentleman from Lexington, the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, for drafting a bill that creates a bold plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing our commitment to renewable energy in Massachusetts. The bill before us acknowledges that we must do more and we must act urgently to protect our climate future. I also want to thank the lady from Ashland, the Chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, for bringing a strong bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
Madam President, we no longer have the luxury of treating climate change as a problem in the distant future, an issue that our children and their children will face. Climate change is right now, and we feel its impacts on our communities and our health every day.
2017 was the hottest year on record, and it’s a part of an alarming upward trend for global temperatures. We are also seeing increasingly severe storms with each passing year.
Just this past March, a vicious nor’easter tore through the northeast and mid-Atlantic, killing 8 people.
The storm left 2 million people in 17 states and the District of Columbia without power, among them 400,000 Massachusetts residents.
Our coastal communities were some of the hardest hit by flooding – thousands of individuals were evacuated from their homes, and high tide reached nearly 15 feet in Boston Harbor. Anyone who remembers seeing storage container and cars floating down Boston streets and families being evacuated from their homes along the coast knows what’s at stake.
Climate change is here, and it is an existential threat to the world, to our country, and especially to Massachusetts.
Now some of the critics of the Senate bill have suggested that the bill is too comprehensive, too ambitious. But Madam President, when the quality of life, the economy, the prospects of future generations, the LIVES of our constituents are at stake, how can we afford NOT to be bold?
An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future creates the protections we all need. It sets us on a path of sustainability, fossil fuel-free energy, cleaner environment, lower energy costs, a stronger economy, better public health, and improved security for the people of Massachusetts.
We accomplish this by raising the Renewable Portfolio Standard, by 3 percent each year.
We remove the net-metering cap, to eliminate a key barrier for the growth of solar across Massachusetts.
We support the continued success of offshore wind, by increasing the procurement of thousands of megawatts of wind power, which is already slated to power over 400,000 homes in eastern Massachusetts.
We create a more modern, reliant, and resilient electric grid by setting a statewide target of 2,000 MW of energy storage.
And Madam President, we propose to change the way that our society makes everyday decisions about energy use by proposing a form of carbon pricing. I want to commend the gentleman from Lexington for his incredible and passionate dedication to advocating for this issue, to require the state to regulate emissions in the transportation and building sectors.
Madam President, we have made great progress in reducing carbon emissions in the electricity grid and shutting down dirty fossil fuel plants. The biggest emitters of carbon are now from our cars and motor vehicles, and where we live and work. We must recognize these externalities, and adopt policies to change consumer behavior, and the core foundations of our society’s infrastructure, to reverse climate change.
This is a forward-thinking bill with robust solutions to our energy and climate needs. As we begin debate on An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future, I hope that we can build upon the provisions in this bill, by fully addressing energy inequity issues.
Madam President, if solar power, energy savings, and the removal of pollution from fossil fuelsand toxic chemicals are only to benefit middle-class communities, then we have failed as a Commonwealth, to deliver equitable, fair energy policies for all Massachusetts residents. We must make sure that if you live in an apartment, or a city, in affordable housing, or in a community where the asthma rates are high, that a clean and sustainable future is provided for you, too.
I am very proud to support this bill and look forward to a spirited debate with my colleagues that I hope will further strengthen this legislation.”