Massachusetts may be one of the smaller states in our country, but as a lifelong resident, I am proud of the impact it has had on important issues. When Massachusetts leads, other states often follow: Health care reform and legalizing gay marriage are two recent examples.
The state is also a leader when it comes to clean energy. According to a September 2014 press release from Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC),
“Massachusetts is number one in the nation for energy efficiency for a third consecutive year according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Massachusetts was ranked by Clean Edge in 2014 as No. 1 in the nation for clean energy policy and clean energy investments per capita.”
The same press release notes that clean energy is a $10 billion industry in Massachusetts. According to Matt Kakley, a spokesperson for MassCEC,
“We’ve had 47 percent job growth in the sector since 2010, and we will surpass 100,000 clean energy jobs in 2015. These jobs include solar panel installers, manufacturers, inspectors to audit homes and businesses, and people developing software to assess energy use.”
Massachusetts has even passed into law the strongest climate change mandates in the land. Unfortunately, a key piece of that 2008 legislation—The Global Solutions Warming Act — has not been enforced by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, prompting other agencies to take legal action.
As Kelsey Wirth, founder and co-director of Massachusetts-based Mothers Out Front, said in a recent phone interview, Massachusetts has not accomplished all that it can.
“We have the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets in the country. There are some things that we are doing right. But [Mothers Out Front] is also saying that’s not enough. Being #1 in the US is not exactly a heroic position. We should push for more.”
This network of mothers, grandmothers and caregivers, and a Moms Clean Air Force partner, is demanding wise leadership on climate change. When it comes to the fight for clean air, we all have to unleash our inner tiger mother and push our leaders and ourselves to use every available avenue to make the air our children breathe as healthy as possible. That’s why several Moms Clean Air Force members joined Mothers Out Front at a rally in front of the Massachusetts State House this past November.
The group is asking outgoing Governor Deval Patrick (and will continue to ask Governor-elect Charlie Baker) to issue an executive order requiring that Massachusetts meet all of its new energy needs with clean, renewable energy.
According to Wirth,
“Massachusetts is at a clean energy crossroads. It is shutting down coal plants over the next three to five years and the replacement on the table is natural gas. Mothers Out Front is saying that that is not a safe choice for our children. And it’s not the right economic choice. As we increase our dependence on natural gas, we are very vulnerable to price fluctuations.”
Replacing those retired coal plants with clean, renewable energy from the sun and wind is not a pipe dream, it is the only reality that should be “on the table” if we want to halt climate change.
Given its history, Massachusetts is the perfect state to lead the way.
Photo: Ronnie Citron-Fink