Category Archives: Energy Issues

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – November 4, 2019

The Value of Forests in a Changing Climate

Forests cover 60% of our state and play a crucial role in solving the climate crisis. Mass Audubon recently worked with other members of the Massachusetts Forest Forum to draft a statement about the need to prioritize forest conservation.

Climate Central

→ Amazon countries signed a forest pact to coordinate disaster response.
→ Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy gave some important advice to journalists covering climate change.
→ Can a wave of new technology slash natural gas leaks by detecting methane?

More Progress for Offshore Wind

The 804-megawatt Mayflower Wind proposal has been selected as the next offshore wind project to move forward in Massachusetts. When combined with the already-approved Vineyard Wind proposal, the two projects would meet the state’s current 1600-megawatt goal for offshore wind power.

Maintaining Protections for Coastal Ecosystems

Mass Audubon signed on to a letter with our partners opposing state legislation to exempt coastal resiliency projects from critical environmental protections. As currently written, the bill would negatively impact wetlands and other natural resources.

Partnering on Offshore Wind

Mass Audubon is an event partner and speaker at this month’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston. Momentum for offshore wind in the US is building, and this year’s event will feature sessions on ensuring its long-term success and reducing costs.

Photo credit: NOAA

Sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association, this conference is the largest gathering of offshore wind energy professionals in the United States. This year’s conference is October 22-23. Interested in attending? Register today!

Learn more about Mass Audubon’s work on offshore wind.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – September 30, 2019

Attorneys General Sue Over Endangered Species

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is co-leading a lawsuit over federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) rollbacks. The ESA is needed more than ever in the face of climate change and habitat loss, and as Mass Audubon notes in the press release, reducing its protections now would be a big mistake.

Climate Central

→ New IPCC report: oceans and ice are absorbing the brunt of climate change
→ Most teens are worried about future climate impacts

Speaking up on Solar Siting

The state is reviewing its Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target program, which provides financial incentives for solar energy projects. We submitted comments expressing strong support for solar energy, but recommending it be located away from ecologically- and socially-valuable land.

State Funding Awarded for Land Protection

The state has awarded $12.9 million in grants to protect land and natural resources, create and restore parks, and increase climate resilience. This funding will help communities conserve 1,191 acres of land.

A Cleaner Future for Massachusetts

Last week at the State House, we testified on our priority legislation: An Act to secure a clean energy future (S.2005/H.2802). This bill would set Massachusetts on a clear path forward for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The climate of Massachusetts is already changing – and with it our natural lands, waters, and wildlife. These changes are affecting our health, the nature we love, and the natural resources on which we depend.

We still have time to correct our course and align the Commonwealth’s climate strategy with the best scientific data available, but we have to act quickly. S.2005/H.2802 will do this by ensuring the policies we put in place lower our greenhouse gas emissions while creating a flourishing clean energy economy.

Some of these goals include:

  • Setting deadlines for market-based compliance, like carbon pricing, by 2022
  • Increasing the number of state-owned electric vehicles
  • Incentivizing electric vehicle purchases for residents
  • Increasing access to solar panels
  • Setting minimum standards for energy storage on our grid network
  • Increasing offshore wind
  • Improving access to clean energy programs for environmental justice populations

You can help this bill pass! If your state legislator is on the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, ask them to quickly and favorably pass S.2005/H.2802 out of committee. Even if your legislator isn’t on the committee, you can ask them to urge the committee to support the bill.

Let them know that this legislation would set Massachusetts on the right path to reducing the impacts of climate change while we still can by expanding our reliance on, and access to, clean energy.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – September 23, 2019

An Inspiring Day of Climate Strikes

Thousands gathered for the Global Climate Strike in Boston last Friday, where the crowd heard from youth activists and political leaders. Mass Audubon sanctuaries joined strikes statewide and beyond, including in Lexington, Northampton, Providence, Worcester, and Wellesley. Kudos to climate change program manager Alexandra Vecchio for organizing Mass Audubon’s partnership in this event, and to all who attended.

Climate Central

→ An estimated four million people worldwide turned out for the youth-led Global Climate Strike. Here’s a recap of this exciting day of activism
→ Youth activist Greta Thunberg draws attention to protecting forests as a climate solution.
→ The health impacts of climate change.
→ Energy efficiency can slash emissions and get the US halfway to climate goals.

Partnering on Wind Power

Mass Audubon is an event partner and speaker at next month’s American Wind Energy Association Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Boston. Momentum for offshore wind in the US is building, and this year’s event will feature sessions on ensuring its long-term success and reducing costs.

Speaking Up for Local Bird Species

Local bird populations are declining across Massachusetts, largely due to climate change and habitat loss.WBUR’s Morning Edition takes a closer look at these changes in a discussion with Mass Audubon’s Joan Walsh.

Fight Destructive Offshore Drilling

Update 9/16/19: Great news – all three bills passed in the House last week! Next, the Senate needs to take action. Thanks to everyone who contacted your members of congress!

Mass Audubon has been working to oppose a damaging expansion in offshore oil and gas drilling proposed by the Trump Administration, since the extraction of oil and gas through our oceans would have severe impacts on fisheries, wildlife habitat, and geological resources.

We had some good news earlier this year when components of the plan involving the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic were blocked in federal court. However, much of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are still at risk from expanded drilling, and the federal government will likely appeal the ruling, so it’s important that we keep fighting for protection of our coastlines.

Humpback whale. Photo credit: NOAA

Now we have a chance to do just that. A major vote in the US House of Representatives is expected this week on federal legislation that could make a big impact. The Coastal and Marine Economies Protection Act (H.R. 1941) would ban offshore drilling & seismic testing on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Please take a minute to contact your congressperson and ask them to support H.R.1941 when it comes up for their vote. Let them know that this protection is crucial for our vulnerable marine ecosystems and wildlife, like the endangered North Atlantic right whale. You can also remind them that Massachusetts and all of New England depend on a thriving coastal and ocean economy, and that success in turn depends on healthy coastal and ocean ecosystems.

While you’re at it, ask them to support these additional drilling prevention bills, which are also set for votes this week:

The Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act (H.R. 1146) would restore protections against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Although the federal court has upheld protection for the Arctic Ocean against drilling, the Refuge could become open for drilling leases as soon as this fall.

The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act (H.R. 205) would extend protections into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – August 26, 2019

Photo credit: NOAA; NOAA; NASA

One More Way to Help Wildlife

Here’s another way you can help stop the recent federal Endangered Species Act rollbacks! Join our Coalition in asking your congressperson and senators to pass legislation restoring the ESA.

Offshore Wind Update

This week, the state will release public bids received for their second-round procurement of up to 800 MW of offshore wind energy. The final selection, to be made by the end of the year, should bring the state to its goal of 1,600 MW.

Climate Central

→ The Amazon is burning: a deeper look
→ 100-year floods could soon happen annually in parts of US
→ 10 Democratic presidential candidates will participate in CNN’s climate crisis town hall

Photo credit (R): MA DPH

State Reviewing SMART Solar Regulations

The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is looking for input on their SMART solar program. Following their initial review of the existing program, DOER is holding stakeholder meetings to share their results and collect feedback.

New Local Leadership at EPA

Welcome to Dennis Deziel, EPA’s new Regional Administrator for New England. Dennis brings over 20 years of federal government experience to the position, and we look forward to working with him.

Mosquito Alert

This summer is an unusually high-risk year for the mosquito-borne disease Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE. While you’re enjoying the outdoors in these waning days of summer, be sure to take precautions. Learn more and see the most recent risk map.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – August 19, 2019

Save the Endangered Species Act

The federal Endangered Species Act is one of America’s most successful conservation laws, and it’s under threat. The Trump Administration has finalized changes that will significantly weaken protection for vulnerable species, but you can help fight them.

Rallying Support for Vineyard Wind

Vineyard Wind would be the first US industrial offshore wind project and has the potential to power more than 400,000 homes. Earlier this month, the project was delayed by the Interior Department. At a press event with our colleagues on Cape Cod, we spoke out about this unnecessary delay.

Climate Central

→ Greta Thunberg sets sail for U.N. climate talks
→ Rhode Island is the first of the lower 48 states whose average temperature has risen by more than 2ºC, and the rest of the Northeast isn’t far behind
→ It’s official: this July was the planet’s hottest month on record

Pesticides and Endangered Species

In addition to her pledge to take action on Endangered Species Act rollbacks, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy and ten other state attorneys general have opposed an EPA proposal that risks exposing endangered species to harmful pesticides.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – July 29, 2019

Greenworks Bill Passes House

Speaker DeLeo’s “Greenworks” bill, which would develop a state grant program for resiliency and clean energy projects, passed in the House last week. Members of our Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition helped improve the bill to include more nature-based solutions and environmental justice criteria, among others.

Climate Central

→ CNN will hold a Democratic presidential town hall focused on the climate crisis
→ Boston is America’s top-rated city for clean energy!
→ Many species aren’t adapting fast enough to withstand climate change
→ Automakers struck a deal with California on improved efficiency standards, despite a federal push to roll them back.

Greening Transportation Workshops

State agencies will hold more community workshops in August to gather input for a regional, low-carbon transportation plan. Part of the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative, these workshops will focus on how to reduce emissions and make our transportation systems more resilient and equitable.

Taking Action on Chemical Contamination

We signed on to testimony in support of bills that would establish an interagency task force on the group of chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS chemicals threaten both public and ecosystem health through groundwater contamination, and the state needs a plan to improve their management.

Upholding Hydropower Regulations

Mass Audubon was also among 70 groups opposing a state proposal to change the way hydropower generators are certified as river-friendly facilities. The change would allow a qualified project to retain that status regardless of environmental changes or needed updates, which could negatively impact river systems.

The Beacon Hill Weekly Roundup – July 15, 2019

Join Firefly Watch!

It’s summertime, and that means fireflies are out and about. Firefly Watch is a citizen science project that gathers data on local firefly populations, and you can help right from your backyard!

Weigh in on Green Transportation

State agencies and transportation groups are holding public workshops on the future of green transportation. Massachusetts is part of the multi-state Transportation and Climate Initiative working to adopt a regional, low-carbon transportation policy. We’ve provided past input with our partners.

Climate Central

→ Worcester and Boston will participate in a new urban heat island mapping project.

→ Discussing climate change leads to more acceptance of its science.

→ EEA Secretary Katie Theoharides on state climate initiatives.

→ Intelligence aide blocked from submitting climate change testimony resigns.