Spring Resolutions for Climate at CLF 

CLF is resolving to continue fighting for urgent climate action to move New England towards a clean energy future

An early morning view of the Baldpates as seen from Maine Route 26 north of Grafton Notch in Grafton Township, Maine.

We won't give up when it comes to protecting the people we love and the world around us. Photo: EcoPhotography.

Last year was not easy for New England. Just as we were closing out 2023, my home state of Maine endured a storm that hit us with heavy rainfall, high-speed winds, and intense flooding. More than 400,000 Central Maine Power customers lost power – and dozens were left shivering in the dark for days after the storm’s initial impact.  

Just in time to ring in 2024, we got hit with another storm with even more flooding. These storms are an alarming trend in Maine and New England. Because of climate change, extreme weather is getting worse, temperatures are rising, and rainfall is heavier than ever. We don’t have to look much further back into 2023 to see evidence of this pattern, like last summer when Vermont suffered devastating flooding that submerged roads, homes, and businesses. It the government to declare a disaster and resulted in costs of over $600 million. 

So, instead of New England’s classic wintery-white landscape, we’re repairing broken bridges, clearing fallen trees, and restoring downed power lines. These experiences are a front-and-center reminder of why CLF’s work to reduce New England’s dependency on polluting fossil fuels – and upgrade to clean energy sources – is so urgent.  

The National Climate Assessment and the State of the Northeast 

In November 2023, the Biden administration released its fifth National Climate Assessment, analyzing the state of climate change across the country. The administration’s findings validate what we see at home. The Northeast is experiencing more rainfall every season, and extreme rainstorms have increased in frequency by nearly 60%. More rainfall leads to more flooding, like we’ve seen in Maine and Vermont. The Northeast is also contending with more prolonged and severe heat waves. By 2050, heat waves above 100 degrees F are expected to increase threefold.  

The report underscores how climate change compounds racism and classism to foist even more burdens onto the shoulders of people of color and low-income communities. For example, areas formerly redlined (usually communities of color, where banks refused to make loans) now experience higher temperatures than their predominantly white neighbors. 

Importantly, the report emphasizes how climate action plans in the Northeast have spurred a response to climate change. Thanks to your support, CLF has been critical in passing laws and associated plans across New England aimed at limiting carbon pollution. But now, we need to implement them. So, in every state, we are renewing our fight against climate change this year. Here’s what you can expect. 

Connecticut: Rebounding From a Year of Delay 

Last year was one of unfortunate delays in Connecticut. Several major climate bills failed to pass. There is still no sign of the state’s long-awaited roadmap for slashing climate-damaging emissions from buildings. Governor Lamont and state regulators botched an attempt to pass clean vehicle standards that most other states in the region have already adopted. This year, it’s time to show decision-makers that tomorrow is too late. We must act now. 

Our Priorities: 

  • Strengthen the state’s climate law to spur bolder action with stricter targets, sector-specific requirements, and new measures for accountability, 
  • Provide decision-makers with a roadmap on how to cut emissions from the buildings sector. 

Maine: Despite Setbacks, Our Fight Continues 

Due to the year-end storm, the Board of Environmental Protection postponed its final vote over standards that would bring more electric vehicles into the state. The Board made the right call in prioritizing safety over the meeting, but the delay afforded supporters of gas and oil even more time to bombard the Board with misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies. Sadly, a majority of the Board bought into the rhetoric, as it voted not to adopt this most important of climate regulations.   

Our Priorities: 

  • Enforce the state’s climate law to keep on track with slowing the impacts of climate change,
  • Revise the state’s plan for breaking away from fossil fuel dependence, focusing specifically on transportation and buildings, 
  • Keep the focus on expanding clean energy in the state, including by preventing gas utilities from expanding, 
  • Investigate the role gas plays in our future by passing a law this legislative session.  

Massachusetts: Good Progress, But We Must Implement Its Climate Law 

Massachusetts made progress in 2023: The clean cars and trucks standards became final and permanent. The state’s Department of Public Utilities effectively announced that gas – including so-called “renewable” natural gas – has no role in helping the state meet its carbon emissions targets. However, as emphasized by the state’s 2023 Climate Report Card, we still have a long way to go in implementing Massachusetts’ climate laws and policies to meet our 2050 carbon target. 

Our Priorities: 

  • Ensure every Massachusetts resident, especially those of low- to moderate-income and communities of color, can access energy efficiency benefits by reforming the state’s Mass Save program, 
  • Advocate for more stable and affordable electricity rates throughout the state, 
  • Keep the momentum going on slowing climate change by urging the Healey administration to fully implement the state’s climate law, 
  • Partner with communities most affected by climate change to reform energy siting and ensure new clean energy infrastructure avoids burdening these communities and benefits the communities they’re built in.   

Rhode Island: Keeping Up Momentum 

Rhode Island made some important climate progress last year. The state put regulations in place that will clean up our air by electrifying cars and trucks. The General Assembly passed a law updating building codes to encourage energy efficient construction and another reforming solar siting to disincentivize clear-cutting forests. The state also announced it is looking to invest in a new offshore wind project. But our work in Rhode Island isn’t done.

Our Priorities: 

  • Slash pollution from the buildings sector, which produces over a third of the state’s carbon pollution, by passing a law this legislative session, 
  • Initiate a study on how to clean up the heating sector. Then, implement those suggestions, 
  • Avoid devastating public transportation service cuts by ensuring the state’s system is properly funded, 
  • Speed the transition to clean energy by pushing the state and our major public utility to acquire new offshore wind resources.  

Vermont: Resilience in the Face of Storms 

Vermont showed its strength and courage in 2023, coming together to repair the damage from flooding while pushing for solutions to protect communities from worsening extreme weather. The state began to implement standards that allow for more electric vehicles to come into the state. The Legislature also managed to pass the Affordable Heat Act, which is designed to incentivize fossil fuel companies to provide electric heating and energy-efficient solutions over gas and oil.  

Our Priorities: 

  • Bring more clean energy online by reforming our Renewable Energy Standard, which sets out how much of Vermont’s energy comes from renewable sources and how much of that renewable energy must be produced in-state, 
  • Ensure the final Clean Heat Standard promotes affordable, clean heating options by watchdogging the Public Utility Commission’s process, 
  • Make polluting fossil fuel giants pay for their fair share of the costs to repair Vermont’s infrastructure that has been damaged by climate change by passing a law this legislative session. 

New Hampshire: No More Time for Inaction 

New Hampshire is woefully behind on climate action, worsened by a lack of any climate law. We did make some headway in 2023, like the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a plan that will bring more public electric vehicle charging stations to the state, as well as its approval of much-needed energy efficiency plans. And community power—providing opportunities for more Granite Staters to purchase clean energy—made major strides, with more than 35 municipalities joining the state’s Clean Power Coalition and adopting its exciting new model. Moving forward, now is the time for New Hampshire to implement an aggressive climate plan and lay the groundwork to slash emissions. 

Our Priorities: 

  • Develop a comprehensive climate action plan that will qualify the state for federal funding to support cutting climate pollution, 
  • Lay the groundwork for New Hampshire to advance climate action that will protect its unique environment for future generations,  
  • Encourage more adoption of rooftop residential and commercial solar panels by pushing the state Public Utilities Commission to continue incentives for solar energy. 

Another Year of Climate Action 

Let me say this clearly: We are not giving up. New England is resilient and strong. We will not let climate change or profit-driven fossil fuel interests dictate our future because our future is for us and only us to decide. That’s why we’re fighting that much harder for our loved ones, our families, and our businesses across the region in 2024. I look forward to your support in helping us make this clean energy future a reality. 

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.