Advocates and civic leaders ask energy committee to advance 100% renewable commitment

For Immediate Release

Boston – At a hearing before the Legislature’s energy committee today, environmental advocates and community leaders voiced their support for a statewide commitment to 100% renewable sources of energy.

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836, S.1958) would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. So far, 113 legislators, including a majority of both the House and the Senate, have endorsed these bills.

“Our lives, our livelihood, and the future of our planet are fundamentally tied to both our belief in the devastating impacts of climate change as well as to acting on those beliefs, which ultimately means shifting our dependence to renewable energy,” said Representative Marjorie Decker (Cambridge). “The choices we make to power our homes, transportation systems, and workplaces are just that — choices. To say we are at a crossroads with our energy future is to fail to describe the magnitude of this situation. Climate change is real, and we must take action to address it by adopting 100% renewable energy.”

“The Commonwealth has a moral obligation to lead the nation by taking bold action addressing climate change,” said Representative Sean Garballey (Arlington). “The longer we go without action during this presidential administration, the closer we come to irreparable harm to our planet. We must look beyond the denialists in Washington and take action now.”

“We are literally running out of time to take meaningful action that will seriously limit the destructive impact of climate change,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (Acton). “Our best chance at reversing global warming is to commit to a future powered entirely by clean energy, and pass legislation to systematically reach that goal. When we invest in renewable energy, we also invest in cleaner air, healthier communities, and thousands of local jobs. I’m encouraged that a Green New Deal is close to becoming a reality nationally, but we can’t afford to wait and see what happens in Congress. Time is running out to save our planet, and we have to take immediate bold action in Massachusetts.”

More than 50 environmental, civic, and business organizations have endorsed a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy. The Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition with 200 member organizations, has included these bills among its top priorities for the 2019–2020 legislative session.

Advocates presented a letter signed by academics and clean energy experts, who wrote that transitioning Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy is both necessary and feasible.

Six states — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Washington, Maine, and New York — have already committed to 100% renewable or carbon-free electricity targets, along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy must give a favorable report to the 100% Renewable Energy Act before it can be voted on by the full Legislature.

Statements from supporting organizations

“We can power our lives without polluting our air or changing our climate,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Massachusetts has long led the nation in reducing harmful pollution and expanding renewable energy. Our Commonwealth’s leadership is needed now more than ever.”

“We are in a climate crisis, and a crisis demands focus and strong action," said Mary Ann Ashton, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. "The science is in: there must be an immediate and steep world-wide reduction in the use of fossil fuels. Massachusetts must be part of the solution. Passage of the 100% Renewable Energy by 2045 bill this session is a critical step in the right direction. Delaying conversion to renewable energy adds fuel to the global warming fire.”

"Our state's current emissions goals and plans include fossil fuel consumption in the long term," said Vick Mohanka of Clean Water Action and Mass Power Forward.  "Given the history of pollution creating sacrifice zones in the most vulnerable communities, 100% renewable, clean energy is the only future we should be planning for. This bill establishes a new target and gives a voice to frontline communities and labor in guiding our just transition."

"As the weekend's record heatwave showed, we are well past time for ambitious climate action here in the Commonwealth,” said Craig Altemose, Executive Director of 350 Massachusetts. “Massachusetts should be a national leader on climate change, but we're seeing states from New York and California to Hawaii and Idaho sprint past us with more ambitious renewable energy targets. It's time for Massachusetts to lead the nation once again by adopting ambitious, medium-term targets for a just transition to 100% renewable electricity and 100% renewable energy."

“We at Commonwealth Green Low-Income Housing Coalition (CGLIHC) have assisted 28 low-income agencies at 68 properties in reducing their utility costs, allowing them to invest more in programs serving homeless and low-income people,” said Dave McMahon, Co-Executive Director of Dismas House and a leader of CGLIHC. “By working harder for a goal of 100% renewables, we can anticipate additional savings that will strengthen the social safety net in Massachusetts.”

"We need to clean up our transportation system to protect our kids from dangerous pollution," said Matt Casale, Staff Attorney for MASSPIRG. "A 100 percent clean, renewable transportation system is possible — and this legislation will help us achieve it.”

“We are fresh out of waffling time,” said Tina Ingmann of Climate Action Now, Western Mass. “We are asking our elected officials to make the choice this session to lead us through the climate emergency into the 21st-century clean energy economy for our health and safety and prosperity.”