We highlight the following legislators for their leadership this session. We thank them for their efforts and urge them to continue their excellent work advocating for environmental protection.
The Progressive Caucus, in particular Representatives Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston)
Took the lead on a Dear Colleague letter in support of Fiscal Year 2017 funding for the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Impact: Consistent with the letter’s urging, the House overrode Governor Baker’s veto of $1.5M for the Department of Environmental Protection.
Thank you also to Rep. Paul Schmid (D-Westport) for pushing for funding for the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the agency responsible for managing our state parks, forests, beaches, and parkways.
CLIMATE CHANGE & CLEAN ENERGY
Senators Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield), Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), and Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton )
Led the way in the Senate pushing for a robust clean energy bill.
The Progressive Caucus, in particular Representatives Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead) and Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield)
Took the lead on a letter to House leadership, with 35% of House members lending their names, to urge a robust clean energy procurement bill.
- Impact: The final energy procurement legislation (Chapter 188 of the Acts of 2016) requires utilities to enter into long term contracts to secure offshore wind and hydropower, supports efforts to advance energy storage, includes provisions to repair natural gas leaks, and allows companies to finance clean energy projects through tax assessments (CPACE).
Rep. Cory Atkins (D-Concord)
Took the lead on a Dear Colleague letter to House leadership, signed by 65% of the House, to urge conference committee members to pass a robust solar net metering bill (H.3854/S.2058).
- Impact: This letter was influential, garnering the attention of House leadership (link to PDF of article). The final version of the legislation (Chapter 75 of the Acts of 2016):
o Preserves the net metering rate for municipal projects.
o Does not include the House’s massive cut to net metering compensation for community and commercial solar projects.
o Includes a longer timeframe for the grandfathering of existing systems.
o Allows for low-income customers to be exempt from a minimum monthly reliability fee.
Representatives Denise Provost (D-Somerville), Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown), Paul Mark (D-Peru), and William Pignatelli (D-Lenox) and Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield) also deserve recognition for their good work on the solar net metering legislation.
Representatives Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) and Bradley Jones (R-North Reading)
Took the lead on a letter to Speaker DeLeo, signed by 61% of the House, making clear that they opposed forcing electric ratepayers to pay for gas pipelines.
- Impact: The final energy procurement law (Chapter 188 of the Acts of 2016) did not provide for ratepayer financing of gas pipeline infrastructure.
Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich) Served as champion of zoning reform legislation to reduce sprawl and encourage good planning and development practices.
- Impact: Strong zoning reform bill passed the Senate (S.2311).
Representatives Paul Schmid (D-Westport) and Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston) and Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton)
Carefully vetted a Baker Administration proposal (H4254) that would have authorized the state to take over Clean Water Act permitting from EPA. They and their colleagues on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture listened to environmental advocates' concerns that the Department of Environmental Protection lacked capacity to take on the new program, the change offered no obvious environmental benefit to the state's water quality, and the funding proposed was insufficient and unsustainable.
- Impact: The bill did not move out of Committee.