Massachusetts deserves a Governor who understands the urgency of our climate crisis and the myriad ways this issue intersects with every other major challenge we face — COVID, racial & economic justice, public health, transportation, housing, municipal budgets, agriculture & food security, immigration, and more. These are all climate issues.
As a former state senator, I led efforts to build a clean energy economy—creating policies requiring major utilities to buy clean energy and programs to train workers for jobs in the sector. Today, those policies are bearing fruit throughout the region. I fought to divest our state pension funds from fossil fuels, create green jobs in environmental justice communities, and accelerate energy efficiency. After I term-limited myself and stepped down from office, I joined a leading renewable energy company to dedicate myself full-time to solving the climate crisis.
I bring all my experience to the fight against climate. My experience as a kid in Pittsfield, seeing what happens when industry sacrifices the environment and public health for short-term gains. My experience as a parent, knowing Malcolm and Eamon aren’t guaranteed a safe, clean environment. My experience as a clean energy business leader, seeing the potential of new technologies to help solve this problem. My experience as a climate leader in the State Senate, fighting for policy solutions to unlock that potential. On Day One, a Downing Administration will prioritize urgent, meaningful, robust climate action.
Policy: Massachusetts will commit to meet 100% of electricity demand with clean energy by 2030.
Problem: Under current law, Massachusetts will hit 80% of electricity demand with clean energy by 2050. In the intervening 20 years, our state will deal with climate-induced flooding and storm increases. Our Black & Brown residents will continue to bear the brunt of fossil fuel use and environmental injustice. Our families will pay some of the highest electricity and energy rates in the country, and our economy will remain badly exposed at the tail-end of all national fossil fuel pipelines and infrastructure.
Action Plan: Massachusetts will set a bold goal of being the first state in the nation to achieve 100% clean electricity. We will do that by, but not limited to, increasing the Renewable Portfolio & Clean Energy Standards, reducing bureaucratic delays that keep clean energy from connecting to the grid, and improving our energy efficiency programs. To meet this goal, the Downing Administration will commit to producing 1.5GW of clean electricity per year for the next decade.
Policy: Massachusetts will commit to meet all non-electricity demand (heating, cooling and transportation) with clean energy by 2040.
Problem: Under current law, there is no specific timeline by which non-electricity sectors will be fossil-fuel free. Under Governor Baker’s net-zero framework, fossil fuel emitters could continue to operate for decades to come.
Action Plan: Massachusetts will set an ambitious goal of transitioning all non-electricity sectors to 100% clean energy by 2040. This will require multiple initiatives in every sector and partnership between federal, state and local governments, the private sector, environmental advocates, and residents. These efforts will include, but not be limited to:
- Electric vehicle incentives and infrastructure build-out;
- The shifting of all public fleets to electric vehicles;
- Investments in alternative technologies to thermal heating
- Planning for large-scale adoption campaigns on all technologies
The Downing Administration will launch a Race to Zero program, creating a competition among municipalities for grants to support 100% clean energy by 2040.
Policy: Massachusetts will make a comprehensive climate justice commitment, requiring that 50% of all climate spending directly benefits designated environmental justice (“EJ”) communities. Our policy will also ensure that climate and environmental policy reforms proactively address issues of equity, discrimination, and disproportionate harm.
Problem: For decades, if not centuries, Black and Brown residents of Massachusetts have borne a disproportionate burden of environmental harm and fossil fuel use. Polluting infrastructure has been sited in poor communities, driving down air quality and driving up asthma, chronic heart disease, and other related health outcomes. This has continued to be the case under the Baker Administration, which has pursued controversial projects like the Weymouth Compressor Station, Palmer Biomass site, and proposed East Boston substation. Pending state law may formally define environmental justice for the first time and ensure such considerations are taken during project applications, but true equity demands a more proactive, comprehensive approach.
Action Plan: In a Downing Administration, Massachusetts will put equity at the center of its climate agenda, requiring that half of all state climate spending directly benefit EJ communities. This spending would directly benefit communities through funding, job creation, MWhs produced, tax benefits, and other key metrics. We will also pursue:
- Enhanced enforcement of polluters via the Department of Environmental Protection;
- Direct outreach campaigns with local partners to ensure adoption of state programs (including to landlords to ensure renter benefit);
- The development of a Massachusetts Climate Corps to fill gaps in our current programs and market.
An independent office of public engagement will be established at the Energy Facilities Siting Board (“EFSB”), whose primary charge will be ensuring all EFSB processes achieve meaningful, accessible, and culturally-competent opportunities for public input and feedback. We will re-establish Regional EJ Outreach Teams, a program eliminated by the Baker Administration. Funds will again be set aside for brownfields/toxic remediation in EJ communities, and state climate resilience funds will be subject to the 50% guarantee established above. Finally, recognizing that EJ communities disproportionately experience the intersectionality of climate and public transit, a Downing Administration will commit to having an fully electric fleet of buses in at least 20 EJ communities by 2024.
Policy: Massachusetts will undertake overarching utility reform and grid operation/modernization focused on achieving climate goals in the most cost-effective manner possible and using state rates & regulations to incentivize utilities towards a non-fossil fuel future.
Problem: Massachusetts’ current utility business model is not compatible with an urgent transition to a clean energy economy. Existing utility processes delay clean energy coming on to the grid, denying gas utilities a clear path to a non-fossil fuel future, while current state rates and regulations fail to incentivize the transition and guide the way.
Action Plan: Massachusetts will reform its utilities to make crystal clear their purpose is to help our state lead the transition to a clean energy economy. We can do this while ensuring the utilities’ day-to-day functions of safely providing essential service remains intact and reducing overall costs for ratepayers. This will include centralizing procurement of clean energy resources at the state level—removing that function from utilities. Utility rates will be redesigned from the ground up to reflect the multiple values provided by clean energy, including public health, environmental, and system benefits. Instead of taking the utilities’ word that a substation is needed, they will be required to put out the need to RFP, with priority given to responses using clean energy, efficiency, and conservation.
Policy: Every department within Massachusetts state government will have in its mission to consider and minimize the impact of their operations on climate change.
Problem: A siloed response to climate fails to match both the scale and intersectionality of this crisis. Previous Administrations have too often kept climate action within the confines of the Executive Office of Environmental & Energy Affairs, rather than undertaking a coordinated and interagency approach.
Action Plan: In a Downing Administration, each Executive Office and department will have a climate-specific mandate as part of its mission, ensuring climate is considered in things like transit budgets, zoning laws, public health regulations, and more. We will coordinate across all levels of government, with the private sector, non-profits, and more to ensure every policy is advancing an equitable, expeditious transition to a clean energy economy. State government will double down on the Leading by Example program and showcase how state office buildings and state-supported infrastructure can meet our goals. Along with the policy review, there will be similar coordination focused exclusively on implementing the climate-specific components of legislation to ensure policy potential is maximized. Finally, the Downing Administration will endorse, support, and advocate for divesting all state-controlled pension funds from fossil fuel industries.
Policy: Massachusetts will maximize the transition to a clean energy economy to create new industries, companies, and jobs. It will make the investments needed to keep opportunities local and maximize the economic benefit of all climate-related policies. Economic benefit will be prioritized for EJ communities and those displaced from fossil fuel industries.
Problem: The Baker Administration has ignored the economic benefits of climate action by failing to invest in the Mass Clean Energy Center (“Mass CEC”). They have failed to create a climate industry ecosystem that will attract the innovative companies of the future, and failed to prioritize local economic benefit in clean energy RFPs and more. Thousands of jobs can and will be created by the transition to a clean energy economy. However, if Massachusetts does not act intentionally, we will see those jobs outsourced, economically distressed communities left behind, and former fossil fuel workers asked to fend for themselves.
Action Plan: Massachusetts will make economic benefit a co-priority, along with cost, in the execution of all clean energy programs and awards. A Downing Administration will double Mass CEC’s budget and use those resources to invest in equity, justice, and innovation in the clean energy industry across the state. Mass CEC will partner with local communities and community-based organizations to support the achievement of the 50% EJ guarantee. Clean Energy RFPs will take the economic benefits of various proposals into greater consideration, including partnership with EJ communities and organized labor. In addition, Mass CEC will partner with community colleges, unions, employers and Workforce Investment Boards to ensure fossil fuel employees are connected to job opportunities in clean energy and training programs for existing jobs. Massachusetts will establish a Transitioning Energy Workers Bill of Rights to ensure retirement security, health benefit continuation, and education support at all state community colleges and universities.