Massachusetts can lead on climate and energy – but will it?
As the federal government rolls back pollution safeguards and eliminates clean energy funding, Massachusetts is poised to push back with policies that will grow the economy while reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Massachusetts has led the region in limiting emissions and encouraging the growth of the clean energy sector. The result: clean energy is now an $11.8 billion industry with over 105 thousand employees.
In addition, Massachusetts ranked first in the nation in energy efficiency for the sixth year in a row; the state’s last remaining coal-fired power plant shut down at the end of May.
These victories were hard fought and E2 has been a major player in helping to move them forward.
And yet…implementation lags and there is so much more to do.
On June 30, the state set an aspirational target of procuring 200 MWh of energy storage by January 1, 2020. Many, including E2, supported a goal that was mandatory and higher. On offshore wind, another disappointment. A requirement in last year's energy bill to procure 1600 MW of offshore wind has been spread out over 10 years, rather than moving a lot faster.
Currently, E2 New England has been working on the following priorities:
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): The nine RGGI states (MA, RI, VT, CT, ME, NH, NY, DE, MD) are currently planning for the 2020-2030 timeframe. E2 is working with others to ensure that the program will keep the RGGI states on track to meet their 2030 and 2050 climate goals. E2 has testified at hearings, sent letters, met with state officials and signed on to joint letters from a coalition of RGGI supporters.
Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS): Currently, the Massachusetts’ RPS requires the state to secure 12% of its energy from renewable sources with increases of 1% per year, bringing the state to 25% renewables by 2030. That’s well below New York and California that have targets of 50% by 2030. On May 9th a group of E2 members met with dozens of state legislators and urged them to increase the RPS. We cited evidence from a recent study showing that increasing the RPS by 3% per year, the equivalent of 50% renewables by 2030, would provide 45,000 new jobs; reduce wholesale electric prices by 4.2% per year; and lower carbon emissions by 71%. On July 12, E2 is co-hosting an educational event to explain the benefits of increasing the RPS to a broader audience of business leaders.
Carbon Pricing: E2 has been a leader in working towards a price on carbon pollution in order to limit emissions. Two bills currently before the Massachusetts legislature, S.1821 and H.1726 would do just that. Several E2 members testified on the economic benefits of this approach at a massive statehouse hearing on June 20. E2 also submitted written testimony on the issue.
Federal level: E2 speaks out to preserve the first Atlantic Offshore Monument
After his New England tour in June, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is apparently considering partially revoking or rescinding the status of the first marine national monument off the US Atlantic Coast. E2 fought back with an op-ed in Eco RI News and a letter published in the Boston Globe.
E2 New England event focuses on saving our clean energy & climate agenda
By Nancy D. Israel, E2 New England Chapter Director
How can we save our climate and clean energy agenda with the US announcing withdrawal from the Paris Accord and the federal government pledging radical cut backs of climate and clean energy initiatives? Three experts gave high level strategic advice at the New England Chapter’s June program, “The Fight of Our Lives: Saving Our Climate & Clean Energy Agenda,” which the Brown Rudnick law firm graciously hosted.
Preserve the foundation by litigating to keep the statutory authorities enabling that agenda intact, said David Goldston, Director of MIT’s Washington Office and former Director of Government Affairs at NRDC. Keep pushing the message that clean energy creates jobs, which has broad appeal, even among voters who do not support an environmental agenda, urged Kate Konschnik, Founding Director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative. State and city action is critical, said Bob Keefe, Executive Director of E2, giving the example of 35 cities recently committing to 100% renewable energy goals.