It’s been described as a “single“, not a home run; a sac bunt is more like it. We get a barely-useful 2% increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard; there’s no lift to the solar cap, providing no relief for what should be a booming industry but which lost 3,000 jobs last year; there is no environmental justice component. Read the MA Sierra Club’s statement [but emphasis mine]:
“With this bill the Massachusetts legislature took baby steps on clean energy legislation when what is needed are giant strides,” said Norton. The world needs Massachusetts to be leading the transition to a clean energy economy, and instead we are offering half measures and timidity. The headlines are dominated locally and around the world by heat waves, drought, wildfires and flash floods, and the White House and Congress have turned the federal government over to fossil fuel lobbyists. We had an opportunity to be bold and grow jobs, improve public health, stabilize energy costs and reduce the fossil fuel pollution that is warming the planet, and instead Beacon Hill has sided with the status quo of fossil fuel and utility companies, over the innovation clean energy and high tech economies. I fully expect there will be electoral implications from what we have seen here today.”
“Aside from knocking Massachusetts behind other leading states in addressing climate change, this bill fails to capitalize on the benefits of developing a regional clean energy economy,” said Pasternak. “This energy bill is a missed opportunity that effectively kills more solar jobs rather than promoting good-paying, local jobs.”
The Globe’s starry-eyed headline (“big boost”!) makes it sound great; understand that particularly compared to the smashing bill the Senate passed, this is a weak-sauce, timid, lobbyist-enloused bill. A 2% yearly RPS increase hardly is an improvement compared to what other measures are already providing — it does not spur new demand for renewables. And folded into the new “clean peak” standard (which our own stomv, State Rep candidate Tommy Vitolo, tells us is “junk planning”) is stuff like support for garbage incineration (ridiculous) and biomass (sketchy).
Once again, Robert DeLeo makes his progressive Representatives look like ineffectual dupes, while safeguarding more conservative reps from “difficult votes”*. Yes, I’m talking about Lori Ehrlich, erstwhile friend of the blog, who posts chummy photos of herself and the Speaker on Facebook, but whom I don’t see eager to take credit for this debacle. I mean my own rep Sean Garballey, who (among many others) voted to install DeLeo as Speaker-for-Life back in 2015. I surely mean Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain; they can’t be happy with this in JP, and they’ve got an alternative in Nika Elugardo. What are these folks getting for their loyalty? Why do they get rolled, like it’s their job? There are a handful of reps who are willing to raise their voices against the Speaker, like Mike Connolly of Cambridge, and Denise Provost of Somerville. Do the other progressives have their backs? Do they act in solidarity, or is it all freelancing?
*So who wins from this? I simply cannot believe that constituents of certain “more conservative” reps were burning up the phones in opposition to a 3% RPS increase. It was the lobbying, by the utilities and fossil interests. And in DeLeo’s House, they win, and we lose.
Think of the context: 2018 is the fourth hottest year, globally — after 2015, 2016, and 2017. We have wildfires all over the country. There’s 90 degree weather north of the Arctic Circle. Our coastlines, fishing industries, and billions of dollars of property are in grave danger in Massachusetts. Climate is already causing refugee crises all over the world. Our hot, angry, dangerous future seems to have already arrived.
As I’ve said elsewhere, it is gutting to have to beg our own representatives to preserve our future; to have to beg and grovel for minimally-responsible climate policy; and to be continually met with stonewalling, slow-rolling and complacency — even here in MA. We could lead the country, and the world, and could reap the benefits. But our representatives chose not to, on our behalf.
In the context of our planetary and local crises, this was failure, pure and simple. We got rolled.