2014 was a banner year for CLF and for conservation in New England – a year of landmark breakthroughs (getting gas right in Salem); hard-won victories (shutting down dirty coal in Massachusetts); deep dives (defending New England’s ocean habitat); legal wrangles (clamping down on Cape Cod coastal pollution); and good eats (helping local farmers and food startups thrive).
Most of all, it was a year on which to build. The progress we made towards cleaner energy and cleaner water, healthier oceans and healthier communities sets the stage for even bigger victories in the year ahead. As we look ahead, then, I want to share with you CLF’s 5 for 2015: our resolutions for building a healthy, thriving New England in 2015 – and for generations to come.
1. Map out New England’s low carbon energy future.
This year saw big changes in New England’s energy landscape. Vermont Yankee shut down. Salem Harbor Station closed its doors. And Massachusetts’ two remaining coal-fired power plants announced closing dates in 2017 and 2018. In the middle of this good news came the potential financial crisis with Cape Wind and a clamoring to spend billions of ratepayer dollars for new natural gas pipelines and transmission lines.
In 2015, CLF will drive a stakeholder process in New England designed to produce a consensus approach to achieving a sustainable low-carbon future focusing on the near-term 2030 horizon.
2. Build an ecological safety net for Atlantic cod.
New England’s ocean is under fishing and climate change pressures never seen before. The Atlantic Ocean is also a major part of our regional identity, integral to our lives, our economy, and our communities and a source of food, fun, and livelihood. At a time when our signature fish and fishery – Atlantic cod – is commercially collapsed and still declining, we have to care about its fate.
In 2015, we will fight to stop overfishing on Atlantic cod and to dramatically increase the protection of the essential fish habitat that cod need to survive and rebuild. We will also support the national ocean planning process to create a shared frame supported by all the federal agencies for our ocean’s future.
3. Make polluters pay for illegal stormwater pollution.
Pollution from stormwater runoff is one of the biggest threats to clean water in New England – and the entire country – today. That’s the bad news. The good news is that we know the cause of the problem: our glut of paved surfaces off of which stormwater, along with many ugly pollutants, gushes into our rivers, lakes, and streams.
We also know how to stop it: Enforce the laws already on the books. In a time of declining government enforcement, CLF will hold industrial polluters accountable with our Environmental Enforcement Project. And we’ll keep pressuring the cleanup of Cape Cod, Lake Champlain, and Narragansett Bay. The health of our rivers and streams is not negotiable.
4. Increase support for New England farmers and farms.
We believe a big piece of New England’s food future should be local. By building a robust and resilient regional food network, we can increase access to fresh, healthy food, create jobs, foster healthy communities, and reduce food-related carbon emissions.
In 2015, CLF will expand our fledgling Legal Services Food Hub, which launched in Massachusetts last year, to Maine so we can help more of our farm community. The Hub connects farmers and food start ups with free legal help, so that they can receive the critical assistance they need to get past legal hurdles and get down to the business of growing and selling local food. And we’ll also fight federal policies and programs that economically bury local food options.
5. Confront the facts on climate change.
The fact is, CLF has been confronting the facts on climate change for decades, from championing energy efficiency in the 80s, to helping design the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2008, to pushing old polluting power plants out of business in the 2010s. Even as we continue our advocacy to slow climate change, we know we must also help New Englanders adapt to a changing, and uncertain, reality.
In 2015, climate change will be part of every conversation we have – from our transportation work with the Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Commission to our advocacy with the regional power czar, ISO New England. New England is facing a set of ecological changes that it hasn’t experience for thousands of years. CLF will push to make sure New England and its governors start taking climate change seriously.
Let’s face it: Resolutions are tricky, because so often they’re made and then quickly forgotten. But CLF doesn’t forget. Our nearly 50-year history of getting results – together with the intense focus of our terrific staff and the support of our Board and donor communities on developing creative solutions to big challenges – shouldn’t be doubted. I look forward to sharing our ongoing successes with you in the months to come.