Environment and Energy Platform

To ensure the health of our future, we need to put the interests of our society over the profits of a few by transitioning away from fossil fuels toward a diverse array of sustainable sources of energy, reducing unnecessary waste, and protecting our most vulnerable communities from climate change’s already devastating effects.

The Challenge 
Although Massachusetts committed to set annual limits on greenhouse gas emissions 10 years ago with the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008, the Commonwealth has yet to act on this promise. Instead, environmental agencies’ budgets have been cut, leaving big energy to continue profiting off the use of harmful, unsustainable energy sources and the degradation of our environment, all without paying a dime for the damage they bring about. Natural gas pipelines have posed a particularly problematic example of this lack of regulation, with few measures in place to reduce or eliminate leaks which release dangerous amounts of methane, a gas which contributes 86 times more to global warming in a 20 year period than carbon dioxide. If elected, I will support legislation to set strict limits on annual greenhouse gas emissions, reduce and eliminate leaks in natural gas delivery systems, and put a price on carbon emissions so that those who pollute our state pay for the damage they’ve done.

Renewable energy sources offer the clearest pathway to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts. However, the prospects of such energy sources in the Commonwealth have been hampered by restrictive caps on their generation, such as the net-metering cap, and fees associated with their use. These restrictions not only reduce incentive to transition to clean energies, but also make it far more difficult for lower-income households to take advantage of their potential. Such restrictions and the failure to sufficiently raise the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) have perpetuated Massachusetts’ dependence on fossil fuels, leaving the Commonwealth roughly 80% dependent on fossil fuels and nuclear power for its energy needs. If elected, I will fight to increase equitable access to green energy by supporting legislation to remove caps and fees on its usage, and increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard in order to ensure our ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In Massachusetts, transportation accounts for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest single-sector contributor in the Commonwealth. Outdated and poorly maintained public transportation systems have put an unfair burden on many Massachusetts residents, who are forced to either find their own transportation, or go without, often missing out on job or educational opportunities. Massachusetts politicians have left the MBTA to crumble, with $5.5 billion in debt, and over $7 billion in deferred maintenance costs and showed the same lack of concern for the funding concerns of other regional transit authorities. This clear failure to make transportation a priority in Massachusetts makes it difficult for Massachusetts residents, particularly those from the Commonwealth’s rural areas, to find or maintain jobs, attend high school or college, while pushing them toward costly, less efficient, and less sustainable means of transport. If elected, I will support legislation that progressively funds the maintenance, improvement, and expansion of the MBTA and other regional transit authorities in order to ensure that Massachusetts residents have access to the jobs and services they need while reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation that it takes to get them there.

We also need to rethink the way we generate and manage our waste. Seven waste incinerators operate statewide, burning waste that in many cases could be recycled or composted. The Department of Environmental Protection recently put a moratorium on the creation of new incinerators, however numerous exceptions have considerably weakened its reach. Plastic bags and water bottles have extremely low recycling rates (5.2% and 29% respectively), which makes them a considerable threat to the future of our planet, each taking hundreds of years to break down and often releasing toxic chemicals as they do. If elected, I will cut down on this unnecessary and damaging waste by supporting legislation that sets a strict moratorium on waste incineration, bans single-use plastic bags, and prevents state funds from being used to buy plastic water bottles except in extreme situations such as natural disasters.

Fighting climate change isn’t just about reducing our impact on the planet, it’s also about addressing the impact we’ve already made. In Massachusetts, low-income communities and communities of color are hardest hit by these consequences. People from these communities are more likely to live near landfills, run-off sites, and other sources of pollution that drastically affect the quality of the water they drink, the air they breathe, and the lives they live. If elected, I will call on DPU, DEP, and other EEA agencies to hold local hearings before making decisions that would burden or harm marginalized communities, and support legislation that requires impact studies to determine the effects of new project proposals on the health of these communities. I am a firm believer in environmental justice, and I will always fight to protect communities that have been marginalized from disproportionately shouldering the impacts of climate change. 

Although these steps are among the most important, they are far from a comprehensive solution to climate change and its effects. In order to fully address climate change in Massachusetts, legislators will need to implement legislation that addresses a variety of issues which affect our state’s environment. That’s why in addition to the above, I firmly support the following steps toward sustainability to ensure that we protect the environment of our Commonwealth, and its future:
  • A legislated target of at least 50% renewable energy by 2030
  • Enactment of Deval Patrick’s 2014 Executive Order on Environmental Justice, which requires that state agencies devote resources toward the protection of the health, safety, and environment of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations
  • Local referendums to vote on local revenue raising for public transportation, in order to temporarily supplement the current lack of devoted state funds
  • Ongoing offshore wind-power developments and increased state investments in clean energy efforts throughout the Commonwealth
  • The creation of new commuter rail routes that reach further West and expand the opportunities available to Western Massachusetts residents
  • Public funding for the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Investments toward developing public transport systems run on clean energy
  • Increased oversight and impact studies on projects that threaten to effect local aquifers, as well as other local water sources

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