Environmental Groups Release Report Highlighting the Baker Administration's Record

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Report Details Highs and Lows and Includes Top Recommendations for Governor’s Second Term

BOSTON--Today six leading environmental groups released an evaluation of the Baker Administration’s actions on energy and environmental issues. As the Governor’s second term progresses and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is under new leadership with the appointment of Secretary Theoharides, the organizations assess nine major issue areas and offer top recommendations for the Administration going forward. As in years past, the Administration’s record is mixed and grades run from an A- for both climate resilience and water to a D- on solid waste and an F on environmental justice. The report notes the progress made on the environmental budget with increases in the past year and additional funding included in a recent supplemental budget to begin to deal with the emerging and concerning issue of PFAS contamination of water. Budget increases have also translated into a good grade for water, with new hires working on dam removals and water quality improvements around the state. The Administration has made a concerted effort to plan for the impacts of climate change, most notably developing the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program that offers grants to municipalities and creating a state plan that involved all state agencies.

On the dominant issue of our time, climate and energy, the Administration gets a mediocre grade of C. On the plus side, the Administration is strongly supporting offshore wind which has the capacity to significantly move us towards a clean energy future. They also have been leading a regional effort to cut carbon pollution from the transportation sector. The administration is moving us in the wrong direction, however, by proposing to weaken the Renewable Portfolio Standard to allow certain types of polluting energy to qualify as renewable and continuing to support fossil fuel infrastructure. “The recent climate science tells us we need to accelerate action. As Washington moves us backwards, the states need to step up. While we appreciate the steps EEA is taking to support offshore wind and tackle emissions from transportation, we must do more – from incentivizing electric vehicles and building the infrastructure they need, to lifting the cap on solar development – to hasten the transition to a clean energy future,” said Nancy Goodman, Vice President for Policy at the Environmental League of Massachusetts. The Administration received low grades for inaction on environmental justice with low-income and communities of color continuing to bear the most burdens from polluting and harmful infrastructure; solid waste, where we are making little progress in reducing the waste we generate: and protecting our health from

toxic chemicals. With strong evidence of the harm to human health from toxic chemicals, inaction is unacceptable.

Additional quotes:

“We can’t solve the climate crisis by ignoring our neighbors who are most at risk. We must fully address the interwoven issues of climate disruption and rising seas, overflowing landfills and toxic chemical exposure, and the disproportionate burdens they place on vulnerable communities. Bold, enforceable action at the state level is the only way to combat these threats to our very way of life.”

Alyssa Rayman-Read, Vice President and Director of CLF Massachusetts

617-850-1704; arayman-read@clf.org

“The administration has recently taken action on several fronts to improve its stewardship of the state's water resources. These include strengthening some key programs and agencies tasked with protecting water quality, a comprehensive update to the state's drought management plan, and funding municipal climate resiliency work, such as culvert upgrades and dam removals. There is still plenty to do, but these are good steps forward, and should make a real difference.”

Julia Blatt, Executive Director, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance

857-445-0208, juliablatt@massriverslliance.org

"Massachusetts should be leading the nation in transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy. While there are some areas in which we are making progress, in other areas our Commonwealth is falling behind. Governor Baker should say 'yes' to big goals for clean energy and 'no' to dirty fossil fuel infrastructure."

Ben Hellerstein, State Director, Environment Massachusetts

617-747-4368, ben@environmentmassachusetts.org

"Protecting the environment, ensuring public health and creating a just society are all inextricably linked--you can't achieve one without the others. Frankly, the Baker Administration has been neglecting health and justice to an unacceptable degree. We urge the Governor to take his responsibilities, for protecting everyone's health from toxics and ensuring environmental justice in every community, more seriously in the next 3 years."

Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director, Clean Water Action

617-338-8131 ext. 203, esaunders@cleanwater.org

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Elizabeth Saunders
617-338-8131 ext. 203
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