Following a landmark 35-0 vote, the Massachusetts Senate passed a comprehensive climate bill on June 14 aimed to “promote a clean energy future.” Now the bill’s future lies in the hands of the Massachusetts House. The legislative session, and the bill’s chances for passage, end on July 31.
Motivated by a sense of urgency for the Senate bill to pass the House before the current legislative session ends, local environmental activist groups Jamaica Plain Forum and 350 MA-Boston Node are organizing a Town Hall Forum with state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez, D-15th Suffolk, who also chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Taking place at Unitarian Universalist Church on Eliot Street this Thursday, July 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm the town hall will aim to address Rep. Sánchez’s views on the MA Senate Climate Bill and his plans to get a MA House version passed before July 31.
The bill includes two key provisions which will be a center of discussion at the Town Hall and are supported by organizers, and the JP-based group Boston Climate Action Network:
- Raising the minimum amount of local renewable energy that Massachusetts utilities and competitive suppliers have to provide by three percent each year. This is an improvement on the current requirement of a one percent increase per year.
- Removing pre-existing limits on net metering caps for excess energy produced from solar panels. The current limits were responsible for a downsizing of the solar array recently installed at Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain. Lifting the cap would make going solar much more affordable for community solar projects and nonprofits.
The town hall will also focus on ascertaining Rep. Sánchez's support for future bills to implement a fee on all carbon fuels and banning a “pipeline tax” that would stop ratepayers’ taxes from funding gas pipelines.
Being coastal economies, Boston and Massachusetts stand to lose big time from the rapid, unrelenting progress of climate change. For this reason, it is imperative for Bostonians to challenge any sign of stalling or any lack of urgency in the House of Representatives towards bills supporting climate reform in Massachusetts.
Organizers of the forum include: 350 Massachusetts, Sierra Club Massachusetts, Clean Water Action, Mothers Out Front, Toxics Action Center, Environmental League of Massachusetts, MA Interfaith Power and Light, Our Climate, Clean Energy Future Massachusetts, Boston Climate Action Network, and the Jamaica Plain Forum.
James Healy is a member of the Jamaica Plain based Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN).