Sunny Days Ahead: Securing Massachusetts’ Role as a Renewable Energy Leader

Aug 7, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Governor Baker’s administration announced late last week that it would file, this week or next, legislation designed to continue the growth of solar power in Massachusetts and achieve the state’s goal of 1,600 megawatts of installed solar capacity by 2020. No details have been released yet on the draft bill, but those are goals that CLF enthusiastically supports.

Solar panels at Exeter Area High School (photo credit: flickr/SayCheeeeeese)

(photo credit: flickr/SayCheeeeeese)

Solar is a sustainable source of carbon-free electricity that must play a central role in our clean energy future. In addition to providing low-cost, clean energy whenever the sun is shining, solar brings extra value to our electric power system. Particularly when oriented to the southwest, solar panels generate power when we need it most, during “peak load” in the late afternoon.

That reduces the need, in the short-term, to turn on dirty, climate-warming fossil fuel “peaker plants.” In the long term, it reduces the need to build more of those plants and the expensive transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure they require.

Importantly, with the cost of installing solar power steadily dropping – down 45% since 2010 nationwide and almost 5% just in the last year in Massachusetts – solar also makes great economic sense. Massachusetts has a healthy, growing solar industry that employs more than 10,000 people statewide. And, for every dollar invested in solar, the state sees $1.20 in economic benefits returned to our local economy – some $950 million dollars last year alone.

So the time is now to continue our leadership in solar energy. Despite its small size and northern latitude, Massachusetts currently ranks an impressive sixth in the nation in installed solar capacity thanks to the solar-friendly policies that we encourage the Baker administration to strengthen and continue.

First and foremost among those policies is net metering, which makes it economical for individuals and businesses to either install solar on their own property or share in the benefit of solar power installed nearby. Despite the state’s commitment to reach 1,600 megawatts of installed solar in the next five years, installations across Massachusetts have slowed as we’ve bumped up against old, outdated net metering caps put in place before we knew solar power’s full value – for the utilities, for the grid, and for the people of Massachusetts. As we anticipate the filing of the Governor’s solar bill, we urge the administration to include provisions to lift those caps (as the state Senate just voted to do) or, better yet, to remove them altogether (as Rhode Island has successfully done).

As Massachusetts works to further develop a comprehensive, long-term renewable energy strategy, we encourage Governor Baker to be bold and secure the state’s role as an innovator and leader in the drive to a clean energy future. Stay tuned for our analysis of the strengths of the final bill once it’s filed.

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Experts Weigh In: Maine Doesn’t Need New Gas Pipelines

Jul 17, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

This week consultants hired by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) concluded that Maine should not enter into contracts to purchase gas pipeline capacity because the costs of doing so would outweigh the benefits to Mainers.

In many ways, this was a foregone conclusion – one that CLF predicted nearly a year ago and that the PUC itself (unofficially) reached before soliciting proposals from pipeline companies and spending taxpayer dollars on a lengthy consultant’s report. It’s a cautionary tale not just for Maine but for all of New England as the region weighs its energy future – and decides whether it will overinvest in natural gas or blaze a trail based on cleaner, renewable resources.

This process all started back in March 2014. After a cold winter sparked region-wide fears of an imminent shortage of natural gas to power our homes and businesses, Maine’s PUC was tasked with determining whether the state should contract for additional gas capacity under the Maine Energy Cost Reduction Act (MECRA). The PUC approached this work in two phases: first, soliciting and examining evidence and testimony from a variety of interested parties, including CLF, as to the need and economics of gas pipeline capacity procurement. And, second, if the economics made sense, to request proposals from pipeline companies.

CLF testified before the PUC as it gathered the evidence and data it would need to make their determination. We reasoned that Maine should not enter into new contracts with pipeline companies – both because the legal basis for them was suspect (the investment in these new projects would have been paid for by ratepayers, which is unprecedented and risky) and because the costs – to our wallets and our climate – would ultimately outweigh the benefits to consumers.

PUC staff agreed with the economic argument in their own preliminary report, but the Commission nonetheless went ahead and accepted supply proposals from pipeline companies. As required by MECRA, the PUC hired an independent consultant, London Economics International (LEI), to examine these proposals. The consultant’s detailed report compared scenarios in which the state didn’t contract for additional pipeline and ones in which it did (based on the actual proposals the state had received).

LEI’s analysis reinforces both CLF’s testimony and comments and the PUC’s own staff report issued during the first phase of this proceeding: The costs of any contract for Maine to buy natural gas pipeline capacity trumps the benefits. In fact, LEI concluded that, even without Maine entering into a gas contract, gas prices should drop by 25% for Maine customers over the next few years due to already planned, market-based gas capacity expansions. The group also found that electricity prices should drop by 15% due to these lowering gas prices.

The LEI report rightly calls into question whether the PUC should have accepted proposals from gas companies in the first place – a process that has been costly to all participants, expended valuable resources of the PUC, and resulted in no different a conclusion than the PUC’s own staff analysis.

Maine law requires that, for any contracts like these proposed expansions, the benefits must outweigh the costs. The conclusions drawn by the PUC’s expert consultant in their report should prevent Maine from entering into such a contract any time soon.

Ultimately, there’s a larger lesson here – one for every state in the region considering its electricity future. Over this year-long process, the PUC spent hundreds of thousands of (tax-payer) dollars on experts and an intense, litigation-like process, only for their experts to conclude what was readily apparent at the outset – that subsidizing the gas industry on the backs of ratepayers is a bad idea, both economically and for the environment.

Those gas shortage fears that sparked this whole process in the first place ended up being completely unfounded over this past winter. Since then the economics of the energy markets have started to shift, with wholesale electric prices declining by 50% over the past year alone. Meanwhile, energy efficiency is decreasing the need for energy resources, fuel-free renewables are supplanting polluting power plants, and liquefied natural gas has become cost-competitive and available at times of peak need. With at least two new small-scale pipeline projects already set to come on-line and reduce energy costs even more over the next two years, now is the time for the New England states to invest in the stability of the cleanest energy future we can create – one that weans us off of natural gas within the next 35 years.

The case of the missing $38 million continues…

Jul 9, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

A huge THANK YOU to the Maine Legislature for unanimously overriding the Governor’s veto of LD 1215, the bill designed to correct the mistake to the 2013 Omnibus Energy Act and restore $38 million in funding to Efficiency Maine Trust. But, just because the new bill has been passed (and the veto overridden) that doesn’t mean Efficiency Maine Trust’s funding is automatically restored. That rests in the hands of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Until the PUC acts, funding for energy efficiency in Maine remains below what is necessary to capture the greatest savings for Mainers.

The PUC now has to take two steps to fulfill the Legislature’s intent and fully fund the Trust. First it must correct the rule it developed based on the mistaken version of the statute (that’s the rule that slashed funding in the first place). Second, it must put the corrected rule into practice as the Legislature intended – by fully funding the energy efficiency programs managed by the Trust. There’s no guarantee the PUC will in fact give the Trust the funding it needs. Depending on how they decide to apply the corrected rule, the PUC could still authorize less than the additional $38 million in funding intended by the Legislature. In fact, the PUC cut funding for energy efficiency during the Trust’s last budget cycle, before the 2013 Omnibus Energy Act.

The bottom line: Energy efficiency in Maine – and all the benefits it brings to residents, businesses, and our climate – is still at risk. So don’t rest easy yet. CLF will continue our push for full funding of Effiency Maine Trust as directed by the bipartisan 2013 Omnibus Energy Act and LD 1215. We encourage you to keep following this developing story, as CLF works to maximize funding for Mainers to winterize homes and businesses, switch to more energy efficient heating systems, lights and appliances, and receive the full benefits of energy efficiency intended by the Legislature.

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This Week on – June 29 – July 3

Jul 2, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

June 29 – Fish Feature: Atlantic Sturgeon – Our new Fish Feature series will share posts from New England Ocean Odyssey’s weekly “Fish Fridays.” New England Ocean Odyssey uses breathtaking images and captivating stories to highlight the amazing riches and diversity of New England’s ocean and bring attention to the issues facing it. Fish Feature, cross-post by Talking Fish.

June 29 – Going to the Mat for Fish and Fishermen – For more than four decades, the California-based fishing advocate has worked to find common ground between taking care of the environment and looking out for the needs of family fishermen. Armed with passion and determination, the law school graduate and former U.S. Marine Corps sergeant is a recognized leader in the shaping of fishing and environmental rules that affect millions of people nationwide. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Lee Crockett.

June 30 – Fishing Blind – A recent move by New England ocean fisheries management officials to suspend monitoring of commercial fishing vessels is the latest sign of disarray in a program meant to provide reliable, independent information about fishing. New England Fisheries, by Peter Baker.

July 1 – Consider the Lobster Price: How Climate Change Could Affect Your Lobster Roll – Lobster prices are on the higher end this summer, and scientists are pointing to cooler water temperatures as the cause. Don’t let this fool you, though. Ocean temperatures are still on the rise, and our lobster industry is still at risk. The Future of New England Seafood, by Talking Fish.

July 2 – Fish Talk in the News – Thursday, July 2 – In this week’s early edition of Fish Talk in the News, a UMass and USGS report says climate change is impacting NE fish and wildlife; NOAA uses a new formula for observer coverage; NMFS adopts a new bycatch reporting system for Atlantic fisheries; new stock assessment says that Atlantic smooth dogfish are not overfished; a federal survey reveals a high sea scallop abundance; a CT lobsterman wants NY to curb pesticide use; ASMFC will host an Atlantic menhaden ecosystem management workshop; NJ fishing groups filed a lawsuit to stop seismic testing; proposed revisions to MSA weaken fisheries management; Legal Sea Foods launches a new, possibly controversial ad campaign; and BP oil agrees to $18.7 billion settlement. In the News, by Talking Fish.

UPDATE: Take Action: Restore Energy Efficiency Funding in Maine

Jun 23, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

UPDATE: Governor LePage vetoed the revised bill on Tuesday, June 23, but the state legislature voted overwhelmingly to override his veto that same night. “With their override vote, the legislature has served the best interest of all Mainers by restoring funding for energy efficiency,” CLF’s Executive Vice President, Sean Mahoney, said in a statement.

From here, it’s up to the Public Utilities Commission to draft a new rule that will properly fund energy efficiency. Thank you to everyone who contacted their legislators and asked them to stand strong on efficiency in Maine. Your voice made a difference.

My original blog post follows:

Do you like wasting energy? How about paying more for electricity? What about leaving nearly $200 million in energy savings on the table every year because a single “and” was accidentally left out of a law?

Who would say “yes” to any of those questions? Governor Paul LePage.

If Governor LePage gets his way, then Maine will leave more than $200 million in energy savings

If Governor LePage gets his way, then Maine will leave more than $200 million in energy savings on the table.

With one stroke of his veto pen, Governor LePage plans to wipe out $38 million in funding for energy efficiency in Maine by vetoing a bill that simply restores the missing “and” into the law.

Contact your state legislators today. Tell them to stand behind their decision to restore energy efficiency funding. Tell them to override LePage’s veto.

Less energy efficiency funding means losing hundreds of jobs. It means fewer residential homes and commercial businesses in Maine will be able to install energy efficient light bulbs and HVAC equipment. It means fewer energy assessments to help Mainers reduce their electricity bills. It means fewer rebates for solar panel installation. And the list goes on. Energy efficiency fuels our economy. It’s the foundation of a strong energy future. The stakes could not be higher.

Here’s the back story on how energy efficiency funding has come under threat and why it’s so important that you act now:

Efficiency Maine Trust lost $38 million in funding due to an accidental omission of the word “and” when the Maine legislature passed the Omnibus Energy Act in 2013. The legislature has now wisely acted to correct that error and passed LD 1215, an act that restores the missing “and.” The bill to restore energy efficiency funding received nearly unanimous support from the Maine legislature! But Gov. LePage is threatening to veto it.

LePage’s threat to veto is nonsensical. Energy efficiency measures not only benefit the environment and help address climate change, but they also save the state — and all of us — money!

Luckily, the Maine legislature has the power to override Governor LePage’s veto. Tell your legislators to do what’s best for Maine and vote to override LePage’s veto. The veto could come anytime today. The legislature could vote to override it in the next 48 hours. So please act now!

Please contact your Maine legislators immediatelyThis is an opportunity to thank your senator and representative for their initial vote (the lone vote against the bill came from Rep. Ricky Long) and let them know how important it is that they override a veto.

Take action to restore energy efficiency today! 


Senator Whitehouse Reintroduces Carbon-Tax Bill

Jun 18, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

In December 2014, Rhode Island’s U. S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse introduced an excellent carbon-tax bill into the Senate, and I wrote a generally laudatory blog about the legislation.

On Wednesday, June 10, 2015, Senator Whitehouse reintroduced a similar, but somewhat more refined, version of the bill, S-1548.  Here is a link to the text of the bill; and here are the high points (with the relevant page numbers for those who are interested).

Senator Whitehouse’s bill imposes a tax on carbon emissions.  This alone is a very big deal, but there are two aspects that make it even better.

First, the carbon tax starts at the hefty rate of $45 per ton, and ratchets up at the rate of 2% per annum, plus inflation.  [Page 4, line 21; page 15, line 3.]  It is worth comparing this to the clearing price of carbon in the most recent auction in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that all six New England states are part of, $5.50 (RGGI Auction 28, held June 3, 2015).  That is, the price of carbon in the Whitehouse bill starts more than 700% higher than the carbon price under RGGI, and it goes up from there.  Most economists believe that society will have to price carbon emissions at a minimum of $82 per ton in order to achieve the carbon-emission reductions necessary to avert a climate disaster.  The ramp-up provided for in the Whitehouse bill gets us further than that, to $88.23 by 2050 (before factoring in inflation).

Second, RGGI applies only to the electricity sector; the Whitehouse bill applies to the entire economy.  [Page 15, line 3.]  Nationally, the electricity sector is the largest emitter of carbon; but here in New England the sector of the economy that is both the largest contributor of carbon pollution and the fastest growing is not electricity but the transportation sector.  Thus, the fact that Senator Whitehouse’s S-1548 affects the entire economy is critically important.

Although my December blog was generally quite laudatory about Senator Whitehouse’s carbon tax bill last year, I did note one major problem, the provision on so-called “Border Adjustments.  I said:

This provides that any mined or manufactured goods that are exported from the U.S. get a full refund on the carbon tax paid . . . The bill creates a perverse incentive to mine zillions of tons of coal for export to China; and drill zillions of new oil and gas wells to export the oil and gas to China. No carbon tax is paid on that coal (or oil or gas), but when the coal is burned in China, the carbon goes into the same atmosphere as if it were burned in the United States. (That is, climate change is a global problem, not a U.S. problem.)

Unfortunately, in this year’s bill that problem has not been fixed; the identical provision appears in S-1548.  [Page 11, lines 7 – 16.]  This was not a small problem last year, and it is not a small problem this year.

This year, Senator Whitehouse’s bill is revenue neutral, and this fact may appeal to fiscal conservatives.  (Although last year’s bill purported to be revenue neutral, it did allow for some expansion of government programs; this year the bill purports to be revenue neutral and actually is.)  Here is where the money would go:

  • The bill cuts the top marginal corporate tax rate from 35% to 29%. [Page 24, line 14.]
  • The bill provides a $500 tax credit per taxpayer ($1,000 for couples filing jointly) [page 26, line 7], to be adjusted for inflation. [Page 27, line 17.]
  • The bill provides an analogous $500 benefit to Social Security recipients and veterans program beneficiaries who might not qualify for the tax credit otherwise. [Page 29, line 6.]
  • The bill provides up to $20 billion per year to the states for distribution to low-income households, rural families, and workers in industries (like coal mining and oil drilling and refining) who will be especially hurt as the economy transitions away from reliance on fossil fuels. [Section starting on page 31.] This last point is especially important because it seeks to mitigate the effects of the change on vulnerable workers.

Senator Whitehouse is serious about climate change.  He has now given over 100 weekly speeches on the Senate floor addressing one subject only:  climate change (and the urgency of addressing it).

Two days before S-1548 was introduced, I heard Senator Whitehouse speak in Newport at the annual symposium of the New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners (NECPUC).  Although he could have addressed any subjects he wanted, Senator Whitehouse stuck to only one:  climate change.  He said, in part:

Eighty-three percent of Americans, including six in ten Republicans, want action on carbon emissions.  And with young Republican voters, more than half would describe a climate-denying politician as “ignorant,” “out-of-touch,” or “crazy.”

Having worked in the field myself for some years, I am not sure that Senator Whitehouse is entirely correct about the breadth of popular opinion on climate change.  But I am sure that he believes that himself, and is acting on that belief in a way that few elected officials at the national level are doing.

This Week on – May 25-29

May 29, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

May 26 – Upcoming Paris Climate Negotiations: Will New England Fishermen Sea Change? – While thousands of miles separate Paris from New England, the issues at the forefront of COP21’s agenda hit close to home. In fact, New England fishermen have a lot at stake in the upcoming climate negotiations.

May 28 – Opposition Mounts to Controversial Fishing Bill – Fishing groups and conservationists are voicing concerns about a bill set for a vote Monday in the U.S. House of Representatives that critics say could seriously undermine the law that has guided sustainable fishing in the country for decades.

May 29 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, May 29 – In this week’s Fish Talk in the News, NEFMC Habitat Committee meeting is on Monday; opposition to H.R. 1335 increases; Rep. Young dismisses Obama’s veto threat; NOAA Administrator defends accuracy of stock assessments; strict regulations bring back North Sea cod; study finds that 13 companies control 40% of largest and most valuable global fish stocks; Maine fishermen welcome new limits on striped bass; Atlantic menhaden are dying off in CT rivers; fish ladders help alewives move up river; NOAA announces new trap/pot gear and gillnet regulations; NOAA announces new small mesh multispecies catch limits; Maine considers sea urchin fishery swipe cards; Greenpeace ranks canned tuna brands for “ocean-friendliness”; researchers develop a model to assess ecological impact of dams on fish populations; and seal pupping season is in full swing.

Farmland vs. Asphalt

May 26, 2015 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

Proposed Site of Exit 4 Development 5-22-15

Proposed Site of Exit 4 Development 5-22-15

Valuable farmland in Vermont is under siege. A proposal is on tap to build more than 1 million square feet of hotel, conference center, industry, shops and houses on very valuable farmland at a rural highway exit.

CLF joined over 50 local residents at a contentious initial hearing for the project. Going forward, CLF and partners will participate in the state permitting (Act 250) proceedings.

Vermont’s  thriving farm economy, our healthy environment and our healthy climate all depend on good farmland. Vermont’s many acres of valuable farmland support a wide and diverse range of agriculture. From apple orchards and berry farms, to community gardens, dairy, and livestock farms, these all rely on good quality farmland.

That good quality farmland pays us back in more than just the food and crops it grows. Local farms help Vermont be more resilient to the effects of climate change. They also help reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. And there is not a single Vermonter who doesn’t appreciate and value the open space and broad vistas that many of our farms provide. Our farms make Vermont unique. And our farms need good farmland to thrive.

Unfortunately good farmland is increasingly in short supply in Vermont. Good farmland takes thousands of years to create. Though Vermont is fortunate to have had the help of glaciers and rivers many years ago to create the valuable asset we now have, it is our responsibility to keep those assets intact and available for future generations.

As the impacts of climate change grow more severe, maintaining our farms and our ability to grow food and crops becomes more important than ever.

As Vermont moves out of the recent recession, the pressures increase on Vermont farmland. Pavement is not an agricultural product. Yet traveling along any of Vermont’s major roadways shows that farmland outside of town is sprouting more concrete than crops.

Bulldozing our rural farmland for massive new developments makes it harder to farm the land that remains. Farmers should not be left trying to piece together a viable farm from the few small parcels left behind.  Instead Vermont should strengthen the ways it encourages development in town and provide stronger protection for farmland outside of town. This helps farms create a bulwark against sprawling development. Keeping more services and buildings in town, surrounded by farms nearby, fosters community and helps us tackle global warming pollution. Our food is closer, providing more opportunities to drive less and burn less polluting fossil fuels.

Unfortunately, some plans for over-developing valuable farmland move Vermont in the wrong direction. The massive development planned for farmland at Exit 4 in Randolph is just one example. Others include a planned new truck stop and convenience store near the highway outside of Montpelier, and a new shopping mall on Route 7 south of Rutland. All of these are chewing away at farm fields.

Vermont’s landmark land use law, Act 250, provides valuable protections for farmland. As with water quality, air quality and community resources, Act 250 prohibits some building on valuable farm resources because it is just too damaging to the resource. In other situations, Act 250 requires projects to be designed in a way that leaves valuable agricultural soils available for farming.

The effectiveness of the Act 250 protections for valuable farmland is being sorely tested. Last year, in South Burlington, a developer sought a determination that a forty acre field with a farmhouse and barn on site was not in fact suitable for farming. Thankfully that request was rejected.

At the Randolph highway exit, the plan is to build over one million square feet — roughly equal to the size of 10 big box stores — in a rural and fairly undeveloped area, with over 100 acres of exceptionally high quality farmland.

When it comes to farming, Vermont should not erode its strong Act 250 protections. Instead Vermont’s support for farming should be as hardworking as its farmers. Our actions speak louder than our words.  We cannot say we support farming if our decisions drive more and more farmers off the land.

CLF Announces Bradley Campbell as New President

May 21, 2015 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

As a member of the CLF community, I want you to be among the first to know that Conservation Law Foundation has named a new president, Bradley M. Campbell. Brad is a nationally recognized environmental leader and energy entrepreneur who has held senior roles at the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Most recently, he served as principal of the law firm he founded in 2006.


Bradley Campbell has been named CLF’s new president.

We are truly honored and thrilled to have Brad leading the CLF team. His depth of experience, national reputation, and expansive network will take our work to unparalleled heights during a critical time as we work to build our clean energy future, counter climate change, and safeguard the health and prosperity of New England communities.

For the past 25 years, Brad has been at the forefront of shaping some of the country’s most significant environmental policy and laws. A former White House senior appointee during the Clinton administration, Brad has also served as Director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Mid-Atlantic office and spent four years served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. In 2006 Brad launched a law firm with a focus on issues involving the environment, energy, entrepreneurship, and science. He also founded an energy company that has developed some of the largest commercial-scale renewable energy projects in the northeastern United States.

Brad’s long experience overseeing large public agencies, developing strategic litigation, and negotiating innovative agreements has led to environmental milestones in New England and across the United States. He worked alongside CLF to initiate and negotiate the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and recently took to the editorial pages of the New York Times to call out New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for shortchanging New Jersey residents in favor of a sweetheart settlement deal with Exxon Mobil over its years-long polluting legacy in the state, which has led to the destruction of creeks, wetlands, and other wildlife.

But even as Brad is ready to take on powerful opponents (and win), he also stands up for local communities. One of his most significant achievements as principal of his law firm included going to court on the side of a low-income community whose drinking water had been poisoned by unmitigated pollution.

Though Brad has lived in New Jersey for many years, he’s no stranger to New England. An avid sailor, Brad and his wife Katherine have sailed from New Jersey to their summer home in Maine, and he also has family roots in New Hampshire. While Brad officially takes the helm on September 8, 2015, he will be spending a lot of time in New England this spring and summer getting to know the CLF community. In the meantime, I’ll share Brad’s own words on his excitement about the future of CLF:

What the Federal government struggles to achieve in shutting down fossil fuels and securing a clean energy future for the United States is already happening in New England right here, right now led by Conservation Law Foundation. When we tip the balance in a region like New England, it has a profound impact for the entire nation and even the world. I am excited to lead CLF’s smart and devoted staff, volunteers, and community of supporters as we write a new chapter in protecting the region’s environment, communities, and future prosperity.

Thank you all for your support and understanding as we’ve searched for CLF’s next president. Thanks to your unwavering commitment to CLF, we’ve been able to continue our work without pause and have already achieved many milestones in this year.

I look forward to you getting to know Brad. He is going to be a positive force for CLF’s future direction and for the environmental and economic security of the people of New England. Brad Campbell will make a difference to all of us.