On October 11th Clean Water Action, along with 14 other environmental organizations coordinated by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, invited current Governor Charlie Baker and his opponent in his bid for re-election, former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez, to the Museum of Science for a public forum on current environmental issues. Each candidate appeared individually on stage where they had 45 minutes to answer prepared questions asked by sponsoring organizations. The questions focused on a range of issues from funding to transportation to clean energy to environmental justice.
Clean WaterAction’s question was asked by Vick Mohanka, Clean Energy Organizer: Please name 2 specific examples of current environmental INJUSTICE in communities in Massachusetts and what your administration will do to relieve the burden on those communities. Through this question we asked for more than just a solution to a problem, we asked for each candidate to show us that they are truly present in all communities of Massachusetts and that their awareness can and will lead to change for our more vulnerable citizens.
Governor Baker highlighted the Green Line Expansion (GLX) as a very important environmental justice project and his administration’s program for building parks and planting trees in gateway communities. Baker pointed out that 17 of 20 completed park projects were done in environmental justice communities during his administration. He also noted that he wants to make green technology such as solar panels, more accessible to low-income and public housing communities.
Baker’s closing statement reflected on the sense of urgency that surrounds climate change and how it affects everyone. He called for Massachusetts to be a leader in proving that environmental and economic benefits go hand in hand. Gonzalez ended with the promise of making climate change a top priority for his administration. The room was lively after the forum as people hung around to chat with one another about the important conversations that had just happened.