Boston – This morning, doctors and medical students met virtually with the offices of House leadership and their staff to deliver a letter in support of the 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836), filed by Representative Marjorie Decker and Representative Sean Garballey.
"We have seen the devastating and disproportionate ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic affects vulnerable patients in our community: the elderly, minority communities, and those with pre-existing health conditions,” said Alexander Rabin, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. “The parallels to climate change are striking. Now is the time to transition away from fossil fuels to give future generations a chance at a healthy and prosperous future."
The letter, signed by more than 80 health professionals and medical students, asks legislators to pass the Decker/Garballey 100% Renewable Energy Act, which would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2045. A majority of members of the House of Representatives have endorsed the bill.
During the meetings with legislators and their staffers, health professionals discussed the urgent need to transition fully off of dirty energy sources that are a public health risk. Pollution from the combustion of fossil fuels is linked to a wide range of health problems, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. These effects are particularly felt by the most vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly. In addition, multiple studies have found that communities with higher levels of air pollution are experiencing higher death rates due to COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is calling attention to the link between exposure to long term air pollution and poor health outcomes. What we've learned from COVID-19 can help protect the public — especially those most vulnerable — from the health impacts of climate change and air pollution,” said Amy Collins, MD, Emergency Physician and Senior Clinical Advisor for Physician Engagement for Health Care Without Harm. “The transition to 100% clean, renewable energy can improve the health of our patients and the communities we serve while building hospital climate resilience, a critical component of health care delivery during a health crisis."
The movement for 100% renewable energy is rapidly growing across the state and the country. Last week, over 150 city and town officials delivered a letter supporting the Decker/Garballey 100% Renewable Energy Act. More than 50 environmental and civic organizations also support the legislation.
Nationally, 13 U.S. states or territories have set 100% clean electricity targets through legislation or executive orders.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that when it comes to public health, change can’t wait. Now is not the time to return to “normal;” it’s a time to boldly reimagine what our future can look like” said Peter Schneider, Clean Energy Organizer at Environment Massachusetts. “The Decker/Garballey 100% Renewable Energy Act sets the path for a healthy future and prioritizes the public health of the Commonwealth by fully transitioning us away from harmful fossil fuels.”