Saturday, April 9, 2022

On the Climate Front: more heat pumps; legislation in Congress; MA Senate acts to drive climate action forward

A Cold War law could be used to boost heat pump production 

"Democrats and climate advocates are demanding the White House invoke a Cold War-era law to boost domestic manufacturing of heat pumps and other clean energy technologies, arguing it could simultaneously counter Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and fend off climate change.

The Defense Production Act enables the president to force manufacturers to expand the production of crucial goods in times of crisis. President Harry S. Truman wielded the law in 1950 to bolster steel production for the Korean War. Former president Donald Trump and President Biden used it to boost the manufacturing of ventilators and medical masks respectively."

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Is the world’s most important climate legislation about to die in US Congress?

"On April 23, the day after Earth Day, a big tent coalition—climate activists, union workers, civil rights leaders, and increasingly desperate young people—will be gathering outside the White House. If you live on the eastern seaboard and are free that Saturday, you should sign up and join them. Here’s why:

Tucked beneath the headlines on COVID and Ukraine, the most important climate legislation in US history – and thus, arguably, in world history – is still stuck in Congressional purgatory. You’d be forgiven if you weren’t fully aware. It is not trending on Twitter. President Biden has mostly stopped talking about it. The enormous moral stakes have been brutally ablated by a broken, farcical, and, above all, extremely boring legislative kludge known as budget reconciliation. The months-long saga has turned Biden’s original “Build Back Better” plan into the juridical equivalent of a Warhol soup can – a ubiquitous token evacuated of any original meaning."

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An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday introduced An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward, its second major climate proposal this legislative session, and the latest effort to continue the Commonwealth on its path towards reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The bill, also known as the Drive Act, increases investments in the state’s clean energy infrastructure, builds and improves upon existing incentives for homeowners, renters, and consumers to reduce their carbon footprints, and reduces emissions from the building and transportation sectors.

“With the Drive Act, we are taking an all-hands-on deck approach to saving the planet, with a particular focus on three area that will need significant attention if we are to meet our ambitious goal of having net zero emissions by 2050: the transportation, clean energy, and building sectors,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “With gas prices fluctuating and our reliance on foreign oil being brought into question once again by world events, it is in everyone’s best interest to get more Massachusetts drivers into electric vehicles, and this bill will help do that through investing in renewed EV incentives for consumers and expanded EV infrastructure. I’m proud that the Senate continues to lead on facing the existential challenge of climate change, and I am particularly grateful to Senate Majority Leader Cream and Chairs Barrett and Rodrigues on their dedicated work to aggressively move this important legislation forward.”

“Building off last year’s landmark Next Gen Climate law, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward is a comprehensive climate bill focused on boldly confronting our climate challenges and achieving our ambitious 2050 net zero carbon emission goals as quickly and as equitably as possible,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I applaud Senate President Spilka and her team for their incredible leadership, ensuring the Senate is committed to prioritizing an all-hands-on deck approach on the issue of climate change, and I applaud Senator Barrett, Senator Creem, their staffs and the Senate Ways and Means team for their collaboration, dedication and focus to put forward this comprehensive package to meet this most urgent moment. I look forward to a robust and energetic debate next week on the Senate floor.”
“We know climate change is relentless, so we think Massachusetts needs to be relentless, too,” stated Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. “No one's around to give out ‘A’s’ for effort. What matters are results. An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward pushes back against global warming on multiple fronts, and with an emphasis on innovation and smart experimentation. It's about thinking long-range but executing now, in the short term. It's about problem-solving, confidence, and even optimism.”

“It seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the passage of another landmark climate bill, but the climate crisis requires of us to constantly drive Massachusetts’ climate policy forward,” said Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (D-Newton), Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “I’m grateful to President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Senator Barrett for prioritizing climate action, and I’m incredibly proud of the bold steps that the Senate is proposing today to reduce emissions from transportation and buildings and invest in clean energy technology.”

An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward bolsters cutting edge clean energy technologies, updates the offshore wind procurement process and supports the advancement of solar power. It also incentivizes consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), electrifies the MBTA bus fleet and builds up the EV charging infrastructure across the state. Finally, it addresses issues regarding building emissions, biomass facilities and the future of gas in the Commonwealth, among other things.

A detailed description of the bill’s provisions can be found in the accompanying fact sheet. The Senate plans to debate S.2819, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward on Thursday, April 14, 2022, in advance of the annual celebration of Earth Day. In coordination with the Drive Act, the Senate will take up H.851, An Act preserving open space in the Commonwealth, and S.676, An Act relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. The former bill codifies into law protections for open space covered by Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, while the latter bill takes action to ensure that homeowner insurers provide crucial insurance coverage to families who are at risk of costly home heating oil spills.

PDF of the press release

PDF of the Fact Sheet 

An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward
An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward

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