PACHECO: "NO EXCUSE" FOR HOUSE NOT TO ACT ON ENERGY
By Katie Lannan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 10, 2018....Failure to pass a new law responding to climate change in the next few weeks would put Massachusetts policymakers "on the wrong side of history," one senator said Tuesday.
"I don't know what people will say about all of us, 25 years from now, if we don't get about the business of getting this resolved here in Massachusetts," Sen. Marc Pacheco said. "We will be on the wrong side of history if we don't act this month. We need to act this month, or we're going to absolutely be seen as a group of people who had the ability to do something about this, and we failed in doing this."
Pacheco spoke at a Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee briefing on the economic benefits of energy legislation the Senate passed in June.
Among other measures, the bill (S 2564) implements a carbon pricing system, authorizes additional procurements of offshore wind and hydropower and sets a statewide goal for energy storage.
Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat who chairs the committee, said the recent heatwave and the storms that hammered the state's coastline over the winter underscore the need for action.
Sen. Michael Brady said someone would "have to be living in a cave with blinders on to not see what's happened with our environment over the past several years."
An analysis by Tufts University researcher Elizabeth Stanton found that implementing four policies in the Senate bill -- an increase in the renewable portfolio standard, removal of a solar net metering cap, and increases in battery storage and offshore wind -- would generate $263 million in economic growth per year from 2018 to 2030 and would not drive up electric bills.
"In terms of our economy, there's a tremendous opportunity that we just have to reach out and say yes to," Pacheco said. "All we need is the political will to move forward."
Pacheco said he hopes the analysis will provide the "necessary impetus" for Massachusetts lawmakers and other New England states to act on climate policy.
"Right now the ball is in the House, so it's certainly up to what the House chooses to do or not, and I'm hoping that they choose to embrace a clean energy future," he told the News Service.
Pacheco said he has spoken about "general policy issues" this week with Rep. Thomas Golden, the House chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee, and talked to other House lawmakers who are "very eager to do something."
"There's no excuse for not moving forward with a significant portion of the bill we passed in the Senate," he said. "It doesn't have to be the bill we passed in the Senate. That's what compromise is about, that's working with our colleagues on the House side."
Golden said in June that he expected the House would act on energy and "come to some type of agreement" with the Senate this session.
With three weeks left for the Legislature to pass major bills this session, advocates are dialing up the pressure for the House to take up energy legislation.
On Wednesday, environmental groups plan to deliver a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez calling for "immediate action" on bills before his committee that would codify environmental justice protections into law and triple the clean energy growth called for by the renewable portfolio standard.
Last week, the Northeast Clean Energy Council and the Acadia Center -- organizations that co-chair the Alliance for Clean Energy Solutions -- sent a letter to Golden, Sanchez and other members of House leadership, calling it "essential" that the House approve four bills: H 4575 to increase renewable energy and reduce high-cost peak hours; H 4576 to increase grid resliency through energy storage; H 4577 relative to net metering; and H 1724 relative to energy efficiency.
"These four bills would greatly advance Massachusetts' clean energy leadership and deliver economic, energy, environmental, and health benefits to residents, businesses and industries across the Commonwealth," the coalition's letter said. "Prompt action by the House is needed to ensure final passage of legislation on these topics this session."
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