Guest column by Natalie M. Blais: Addressing our planet’s climate crisis

  • Natalie Blais represents the 1st Franklin District.

Published: 9/6/2019 8:00:18 PM
Modified: 9/6/2019 8:00:06 PM

We need visionary and immediate legislative action when it comes to addressing our planet’s climate emergency.

It’s one of the many reasons I co-sponsored the following bills before the state Legislature that commit us to a goal of 100% renewable energy, investing in green infrastructure, reducing transportation emissions and prioritizing environmental justice. Passage of these bills together would represent a significant step forward in addressing climate change.

Here’s a summary:

■H.2836 — An Act Re-powering Massachusetts with 100 Percent Renewable Energy.

This proposal sets Massachusetts on a course towards 100% renewable energy and lowering our greenhouse gas emissions. On July 23, I joined nearly 30 other legislators to testify in support this bill. Our testimony was met with cheers and applause from the public. The message was clear — we are facing a climate emergency and the time to act is now.

■H.761 and H.826 — An Act Relative to Environmental Justice.

On May 22, legislators packed a State House hearing room in support of these proposed bills. Studies show that low-income communities and communities of color experience a disproportionate amount of pollution. These bills recognize that every person in the commonwealth has a right to be protected from environmental pollution regardless of race, national origin or income.

Our commitment to reversing climate change must include the equal protection of the health of every citizen in the commonwealth.

■H.2810 — An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions.

Transportation contributes over 40% of Massachusetts’ greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, Massachusetts passed the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), pledging to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. H.2810 puts a price on carbon emissions to help us meet or exceed the GWSA emissions target. Seventy percent of the funds are returned to consumers and businesses, and 30% are dedicated to a Green Infrastructure Fund.

Importantly, H.2810 includes built-in financial protections for low- and middle-income households, those who live in rural areas and export-driven manufacturers.

I am pleased that the sponsor of H.2810, Rep. Jen Benson, has accepted my invitation to discuss her legislation Monday at 6:30 pm at the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg. Let’s fill the room with people who want to work with her to advance this bill. You can learn more about this public event on my Facebook page at facebook.com/repblais.

Recently, the House passed the GreenWorks bill, which established a $1 billion, 10-year grant program to help cities and towns across Massachusetts fund infrastructure projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in climate resilience measures. Passage of this legislation was an important step in addressing the climate emergency, but we cannot stop there.

Reversing climate change can feel daunting, and sometimes, even impossible. Taking what seem like small steps to use less energy is a necessary start. And, we have a moral imperative to act now.

Each of us can make individual changes to our lifestyles that will reduce energy demands. We can be more mindful of how we heat and cool or homes. We can eat and shop locally. We can use public transit or bike. We can carpool instead of driving alone.

Let’s help and encourage one another to make these important lifestyle changes.

Let’s work together to pass a package of legislation aimed at reversing climate change.

Let’s build vibrant and resilient communities fostered by a clean energy economy and whose foundation is made stronger by our collective efforts to reduce energy demands.

Let’s be visionary. Together, let’s do what feels like the impossible to protect our planet for current and future generations.

Rep. Natalie M. Blais represents the 1st Franklin District.


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