E2 New England has dramatically raised its profile in Massachusetts, becoming widely recognized as an important player on Beacon Hill and a strong business voice in support of environmental initiatives. With over 100 members, E2 New England has been active in advocating for policies to support the growth of the clean energy sector and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for many years, playing a significant role in support of the major policy framework that has made the state a national climate and energy leader.
E2 NEW ENGLAND 2017 HIGHLIGHTS
Massachusetts is apparently on track to meet its legally mandated goal of an economy-wide reduction in greenhouse gas pollution of 25% below 1990 levels by 2020. In addition, Massachusetts has been number one in the nation in energy efficiency for 6 years in a row.
Moreover, these environmental victories have been matched by remarkable growth in the state’s clean energy economy. The 2016 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report showed that the clean energy sector grew to over 105,000 jobs this past year and contributed $11.8 billion to Massachusetts’ Gross State Product, which represents a 2.5% share of the entire Massachusetts economy.
E2 NEW ENGLAND CAMPAIGNS
1. Reduce Regional Emissions via the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative bi-partisan effort across nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states (the six New England states plus New York, Maryland and Delaware) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector. RGGI was the first mandatory trading program in the U.S. that caps CO2 emissions through state coordinated cap-and-trade programs.
The program has been a remarkable success story. As of 2014, the RGGI states had reduced power sector CO2 emissions by over 45% since 2005, while providing at least $2.9 billion in regional economic growth. RGGI investments are estimated to return $4.67 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 4.6 million participating households and 21,400 businesses.
The RGGI states are currently working on a plan to determine emission levels between 2020 and 2030. All of the participating states have economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions targets in the range of 35-45% by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. An independent study determined that in order to meet these goals, the electric sector would need to reduce emissions by 5% per year between 2020 and 2030.
As part of E2’s campaign in support of stricter RGGI caps on emissions, E2 met several times with senior members of the Baker Administration, sponsored a letter to the Governor signed by over 100 business leaders, testified at stakeholder meetings, and submitted letters of support on decisions about the structure of the program. This issue has taken on even greater importance this year, given that national leadership on climate has disappeared.
2. Increase the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard
Twenty-nine states have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which mandate that a certain percentage of electric power must come from renewable non-polluting sources like wind and solar. These standards have been a leading driver of growth in renewable energy, which in turn has driven the cost of wind and solar energy down by 60-80% in the past 10 years.
The current Massachusetts RPS is 12% with an annual increase of 1% per year. At that growth rate, Massachusetts would have about 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. However, a new independent analysis has determined that this would not be sufficient to meet our economy-wide climate goals and that an annual increase of 2-3% per year would result in considerably lower electric rates; could create up to 45,000 new jobs; and would reduce emissions by up to 71%.
Members of E2 met with legislators during the Massachusetts Clean Energy Day and made the economic case for increasing the Massachusetts RPS by 2-3% per year in order to grow the economy and meet our climate goals. We will continue this campaign, working in concert with other organizations.
3. Ensure that the Atlantic Offshore Marine Monument remains protected
Unless you are a deep-sea diver or a dedicated fisherman, you may not be aware of an undersea range of canyons and peaks located 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod. This area is a biological hotspot with a wide range of species and is home to ecological resources of national significance. However, drilling, mining, dredging or other extractive activities could destroy it all.
In September 2016, as a result of a multi-year campaign by NRDC, E2 and other groups, President Barack Obama designated the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the nation’s first Atlantic Ocean Monument.
Potential Rollback of Monument Status
In April 2017, President Trump issued an unprecedented executive order to review national monuments on public lands and waters dating back to 1996. This review sets in motion an attempt to strip America of one our most cherished assets—monuments and special places on land and in the sea that inspire awe, wonder and appreciation for nature. This threatens not only the Atlantic Offshore Marine Monument, but also land and sea monuments throughout the country.
Together with our partners at NRDC, E2 is fighting to maintain the protected status of all monuments across our country, with special emphasis in New England on our newly created 1st Atlantic Offshore Marine Monument.