We Need a Green New Deal for Massachusetts

Our current crises prove that we must be more aggressive in combating climate change, not less.

Originally posted here on April 21
We are living in a time of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the underlying problems that need major addressing in this country, from our broken healthcare system to our regressive tax structure. Yet none pose as big a threat to our state, our country, or our world as the looming threat of climate change.
The pandemic has made it even more necessary to examine our impact on the environment, especially now that scientists have found links between increased air pollution and people’s vulnerability to the virus. And, while the Trump administration has faltered in tackling the virus, they have been active opponents of climate science, even going so far as to attempt rollbacks of environmental protections during the crisis. Even before the pandemic, they were opening more land to oil drilling and overturning protections for streams and rivers. Needless to say, as long as the current administration is in office, we cannot look to them for guidance.
That is why I believe that Massachusetts should be leading the nation on policies to combat climate change. While I strongly supported the recent State Senate climate package that passed earlier this year, I still believe there are many more concrete steps we can take to solidify ourselves as leaders on this issue. The Green New Deal serves two vital functions as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic: it puts in place strong, achievable protections for our environment to tackle the climate crisis and it creates thousands of new jobs necessary for economic recovery after months of financial slowdown.
I have direct experience with climate policy. When I worked as a Policy Advisor in the State Senate, I helped craft legislation that expanded the Massachusetts solar panel system and increased credits to make renewable energy more affordable for households. I also worked on regulation for gas pipelines that led to a decrease in leaks, which are harmful to our waterways and wildlife. As State Senator, I will build on this work to build coalitions, get legislation passed, and make our Commonwealth a leader on climate policy while creating thousands of good, high-wage jobs.
Here’s what a Green New Deal for Massachusetts looks like:
  • Net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, the limit dictated by the UN Climate Commission.
    • This is a big but achievable goal. It will require political will, something we are sorely lacking, and collaboration with our state’s top scientific minds. We don’t have time to wait for our current leaders to come around — we must take the initiative ourselves.
  • Carbon-neutrality of state-run vehicles, such as MBTA, commuter rail, and public school buses.
  • Emissions standards for vehicles that are stricter than that of the Trump administration.
    • Massachusetts can be the leader in New England, and the country, by setting stricter emission standards than the federal government. We can be a leader in a coalition of states that show that this is important to us and our voters. Such policies also inevitably end up saving the consumer a lot of money at the gas pump as well, while also saving the state money on its fleet of vehicles.
  • Significantly expanded offshore wind construction and output raised above 3 Gigawatts.
    • Our neighbors in Rhode Island have proven through their first-in-the-nation offshore wind project at Block Island that wind energy can be a huge boon for the planet and the economy. The federal government may try to roadblock our work, meaning that our state must push to make it a reality through political action, demonstrations, lawsuits, and more.
  • Halted construction of the Weymouth Compressor Station and other such expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure.
  • Stronger incentives for individual households to obtain renewable energy, such as an expansion of credits to purchase solar panels, elimination of net metering barriers, and investments in community solar programs.
    • We must recognize that price is a significant barrier for many who are otherwise willing to utilize renewable energy. That’s why I have prioritized building on the work I’ve already done to make solar energy more accessible.
  • Institution of the carbon tax agreed to in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
  • Transition of natural gas infrastructure, such as pipelines, towards geothermal energy.
    • We have a unique opportunity to potentially turn a lot of our current natural gas infrastructure into a network of geothermal heat pumps. This is at the early stages of explorations but we could be on the front lines of a new, permanent renewable energy source.
  • Updated building codes to incentivize the construction of fully electric buildings.
  • Grants for environmentally-focused startups aimed at improving methods for collecting and storing energy.
 
To create thousands of high-paying union jobs, we will invest in crucial construction and maintenance jobs, such as:
  • Retrofitting homes to make them energy efficient through insulation and upgrading of water infrastructure.
  • Installation of solar panels and assembly of wind turbines.
  • Construction of organic and constructed coastal barriers.
 
I also strongly believe that climate plans should include environmental justice. We must:
  • Conduct thorough pollution checks to investigate communities most affected by carbon emissions and other air pollutants.
  • Retrofit houses in low-income communities to make them more climate-resistant and eliminate carcinogens.
  • Consult with communities of color, especially indigenous communities, when considering the construction of new renewable infrastructure.
  • Increase funding to the Department of Public Health to investigate vectors of disease and help determine if an environmental factor was present in its growth.
 
The people of my district see the effects of climate change every day. They manifest themselves through unusual weather patterns and pollution, which harm our communities.
Just on Saturday, April 18th we woke up to a land covered in snow only to have a 60-degree day immediately follow it. We should not tolerate inaction on an issue as pressing as climate change. It’s past time we have a real climate champion representing the Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth district. Our district cannot afford to have a passive State Senator at a time of crisis.
I have the experience to tackle this issue on day one. I understand the urgency of this moment. That is why I am in this race.

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