When does MA start saying “No” to fossil fuel expansion

Unnecessary Abdication of Power

While MA Governor Charlie Baker’s pledge to join the Climate Alliance is a welcome declaration in the face of the United States becoming one of only three countries to not adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement, Governor Baker (as well as other Governors who have taken this pledge) will need to be held accountable on policies that may lead them astray of the goals of the agreement.

In Massachusetts, we have the Global Warming Solutions Act and several pieces of proposed legislation that would move us toward a 100% Renewables economy, yet Governor Baker has been quick to drop any state authority on preventing pipeline projects from gaining necessary state-level permits.

The latest was on July 6,  2017 on WGBH’s “Ask the Governor”, when asked directly if joining the Climate Alliance would mean an end to his “hands off” approach regarding new fossil fuel projects.

My question:
Thank you Gov. Baker for pledging to join the Climate Alliance.
Does that mean you’ll change your hands-off approach in opposing fossil fuel development like the Weymouth Compressor station, pipelines, and LNG in the state?

Baker’s answer:
60% of our current energy sources are natural gas, it would be pretty hard for us to walk away from that anytime soon. And as we all know, the presence of natural gas has taken a ton of oil and coal out of our energy sector, which has been a good thing for a greenhouse gas point of view.

With respect to the compressor, I would just say the following. As I said before it’s a federal issue, but we do have a role to play here because we implement certain federal standards here. And we got a lot of really positive input from folks, Secretary Beaton and his team, during the public hearing process. And we will hold those folks to the highest standard possible under the federal law – you can count on that – with respect to both public safety, public health and any others issues associated with that.

Thoughts:
• My question wasn’t about “walking away” from fossil fuel infrastructure that’s already in use (although that’s not a bad idea, given our climate crisis). It was about halting the INCREASE in fossil fuel use by saying “no” to new fossil fuel projects, and “yes” to clean energy instead.

• Yes, these projects require approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but they also require state permits to move forward. As a state that has not only pledged to join the Climate Alliance, but also enacted the Global Warming Solutions Act, it should be our #1 priority to not allow more fossil fuel development.

• 60% of our energy from any one source is cause for concern, especially when that source is a finite fuel that’s historically be subject to wide price swings. We need to make sure to maximize efficiency first – a tactic that currently has our demand for electricity dropping. Then any added energy generation should be clean, non-emitting sources only, and have grid storage available to reduce the need for peak demand generation.

• The “highest standard possible under federal law” is part of the problem. Those standards are not high enough.

Other seem to “get” that state level permits can block final permitting of projects that are detrimental to our environmental, health and safety and climate goals.
» N.J. DEP denies permits needed for PennEast pipeline
by Cristina Rojas, NJ.com, June 28, 2017
» Gov. Cuomo Blocks Northern Access Pipeline
by Kimberly Ong, Natural Resources Defense Council, April 9, 2017
» Cuomo administration rejects Constitution pipeline
By Scott Waldman, Politico.com
April 22, 2016
Looking to the (near) future …
» Gubernatorial MA candidates join
compressor station opposition
By Michael P. Norton, State House News Service, June 28, 2017

Gov. Charlie Baker says Massachusetts
will join US Climate Alliance

by Shannon Young, Springfield Republican / MassLive
June 2, 2017

“Today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change…our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation,” he said in a statement.

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