CLF Communications Director
(Boston ) The Massachusetts Climate Coalition, a broad coalition of environmental, community and public health organizations, stepped forward to strongly support dramatic increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy in testimony before two key legislative committees this week, arguing that these measures are needed to protect our climate through greenhouse gas reductions.
“Greenhouse gas reductions must start now, must be deep, and must happen across all sectors to avoid the worst impacts of Global Warming,” said Sue Reid of the Conservation Law Foundation, one of several members of the Coalition testifying before the legislature’s Committees on Environment and Natural Resources on Monday and Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy on Tuesday.
The coalition of environmental and clean energy advocates supported legislation modeled on California ’s recent successful carbon-capping bill. If passed, the bill would set a target of 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A strong consensus of scientists agree cuts of this magnitude are necessary to stabilize the climate by mid-century.
“We have to get started now to solve global warming, and every state has to do its part,” said Frank Gorke, Director of Environment Massachusetts, the new home of MASSPIRG’s environmental work. “The first step is to cap global warming pollution at levels that will enable us to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. That will ensure we use the tools that are in the toolbox now, like efficiency and renewable energy. And a cap will also send the right signals to inventors and investors to get started creating the 21st century clean energy tools that will get the deep long-term pollution reductions we need.”
“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a modest but important first step for cutting these gases, by decreasing our power sector’s carbon intensity, particularly through energy efficiency and clean energy,” said John Rogers of the Union of Concerned Scientists. MCC members supported measures to ensure the multi-state agreement is fully implemented in Massachusetts and is properly designed to decrease emissions, increase efficiency, and encourage development of renewable energy sources.
Also on the legislature’s agenda this session are many bills which would encourage the development of large amounts of new renewable energy sources and calling for Massachusetts to embrace the International Energy Conservation Code, a model building code used by a majority of US states to ensure the construction of efficient homes and commercial buildings.
“In order to meet the pollution reduction targets science is telling us we must achieve to stabilize the climate, we need to combine near term energy efficiency build ups with a longer term set of incentives to jumpstart more clean renewable energy in Massachusetts, and region-wide, “said Brian Thurber of Clean Water Action. “Any serious energy independence and climate strategy must include updating our state’s renewable energy standards and getting to 20% of our electricity from new clean renewables by 2020.”
“Good building codes are the most basic form of efficiency. Smart design and construction makes buildings cheaper to run, and better for the environment, from day one,” noted Jim Gomes of the Environmental League of Massachusetts.
The group also presented testimony asking the committee to dramatically increase the breadth and effectiveness of Massachusetts ’ energy efficiency programs.
“Massachusetts has one of the best efficiency programs in the nation. They deliver energy resources at a cost of 3¢/Kwh vs. 10¢/Kwh for supply. The state’s cheapest energy resources is efficiency and consumers see savings flow directly to their bills,” said Sam Krasnow of Environment Northeast, testifying about proposals to direct electric companies to capture all energy efficiency that is cheaper than supply to lower consumer costs and GHG pollution.
The Coalition praised the interest in these issues in the legislature, and vowed to continue to work with legislators to advance climate responsible legislation.
“The 70 plus energy bills being heard this week illustrate that the legislature understands the seriousness of the challenge we face from global warming and that we must do all we can to reverse our current course,” said Nancy Goodman of the Environmental League of Massachusetts.