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Environmentalists React to Regional Proposal to Cut Carbon Emissions

Peter Shattuck, director of the clean energy initiative for Acadia Center, said this proposal is what climate leadership looks like.

“(Rhode Island) Governor Raimondo and other governors have really stepped up to fill the void of the Trump administration’s misguided and irresponsible decision to roll back all our major climate policies (and) to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement,” Shattuck said.

[…]

From 2008 to 2015, RGGI states have seen 3.6 percent more economic growth than non-RGGI states and electricity prices have gone down 3.4 percent regionally, according to a report by Acadia Center.

Read the full story from Rhode Island Public Radio here.

Massachusetts must fill void left by U.S. withdrawal from Paris Agreement (Guest viewpoint)

Op-ed by Daniel Sosland and Peter Rothstein in Mass Live.

Since President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, business leaders, environmental organizations and public officials across the nation have expressed concern for the impact on our climate and economy. The momentum we’ve achieved in building our nation’s renewable and clean energy sector must now be picked up by forward-looking states, cities and businesses around the country. Massachusetts is in a unique position to be a leader in this effort.

Massachusetts has a long history of using policy to bolster renewable and advanced clean energy deployment and innovation. Massachusetts was one of the first states in the nation to enact a comprehensive regulatory program to address climate change with 2008’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA). Last year, the Commonwealth built upon this leadership with the Energy Diversity Act, supporting offshore wind and other clean energy generation.

These progressive policies and investments in the state’s growing clean energy hub have paid off with strong economic results. A report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center found that the Commonwealth’s clean energy economy currently employs more than 105,000 people at over 6,700 companies, representing $11.8 billion in investment.

We know the policy tools and technologies needed to reduce climate pollution and accelerate clean energy adoption. Acadia Center’s EnergyVision 2030 shows that deploying a range of market-ready consumer technologies such as electric vehicles and efficient heat pumps to warm and cool buildings can deliver deep emissions reductions over the next 13 years when paired with policies to clean up the power grid.

A report from NECEC found that strengthening one of these policies – a requirement for utilities to purchase clean energy under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) – would create thousands of jobs across the region, lower wholesale electricity prices and put us on track to meet our ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Boosting the RPS will also provide long-term market stability and position the Commonwealth to build on its strengths in innovation and advanced manufacturing to capture a significant part of the trillion-dollar global clean energy market.

Massachusetts also needs to modernize its energy grid to support the growth of renewables and empower consumers and communities to control energy usage and costs by adopting clean technologies. Customers need to be provided with information on building energy usage to inform decisions. Barriers to electric vehicles, clean heating technologies and solar energy (in the form of net metering caps) must be removed. And policies must make the benefits of these technologies accessible to all consumers, including low-income families. Pricing carbon will unleash the power of the market to reduce emissions, particularly in the transportation sector, which is now Massachusetts’ largest source of climate pollution. For new and promising technologies such as energy storage, meaningful targets must be paired with enforcement mechanisms and tax incentives to speed deployment.

Policymakers are not solely responsible for driving the clean energy economy. The private sector recognizes that renewable energy is not only good for the planet – it’s good for a company’s bottom line. Renewable energy saved Boston-area hospitals $15 million in just a four-year period – enough to pay for 1,357 of the state’s Medicare enrollees. Big energy consumers like Cambridge-based cloud computing service Akamai are choosing renewables, which will power half the company’s global network operations by 2030.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve already shown the rest of the country and the world what we can do when city and state governments work hand-in-hand with the business community and the support of the public to pursue clean and cost-effective energy solutions. Given the diminishing support from the federal government to advance a clean energy future, we must work even harder to implement smart energy policies at the state and regional level that grow jobs, drive regional competitiveness and build on the Northeast’s reputation as a clean energy and climate leader. With the leadership void left by our federal government, this work is more important than ever.

Peter Rothstein is president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council.

Daniel Sosland is president of Acadia Center.

One Month In – Advocating for Clean Energy Policies in Connecticut

In this blog post, Acadia Center’s new Policy Advocate in Connecticut, Kerry Schlichting, shares her experience one month into her tenure at the organization.

Kerry Schlichting

I recently joined the Hartford team in late May, after eight years in Washington, D.C., working on energy policy issues with a national perspective, and was eager to apply my experience to challenges at both the federal and state level. As a new staff member, my experience over the past month in Connecticut’s exciting and fast-paced environment has shown me the depth and breadth of Acadia Center’s work and how much is possible in the state and regionally. With just over two weeks left in Connecticut’s legislative session, Acadia Center’s Hartford-based team made a final push for policies protecting and promoting the state’s clean energy goals while also fighting a proposal to divert funds from the state’s crucial energy efficiency programs. Meanwhile on the national stage, the decision to leave the Paris Climate Accord was announced, with lasting implications for climate and economy locally, regionally, and globally.

On just my second day, we organized a sign-on letter opposing proposed budget raids of ratepayer funds for energy efficiency and clean energy programs to send to CT officials. Over 70 signees—representing business, community, consumer, low-income, public health, environmental, and clean energy interests—came together against the harmful impacts that would flow from proposed raids on ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs. The letter opposes two budget proposals, one made by Senate Republicans that would raid ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs and another made by the Senate and House Democrats that would sweep ratepayer-derived revenues from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. These programs generate immense economic value for the state, from billions of dollars in electricity and natural gas bill savings to helping low-income families reduce the difficult burden of high energy costs, while also protecting the health and prosperity of our local communities. Budget negotiations are ongoing through the end of this month, and we continue to respond to changing proposals that threaten these important programs.

My second week saw the next major challenge as we learned of the threatened withdrawal of the Trump Administration from the Paris Climate Agreement. By pulling out of the Paris Agreement, the Trump Administration weakens our country’s position as an energy leader. This action also undermines progress being made globally, as well as at the national and state level, to address the growing harms of carbon pollution. The announcement by the White House underscores how much more important state leadership will be in advancing a clean energy future. The day of the White House’s announcement, representing Acadia Center, I spoke at U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal’s press conference to decry this shortsighted decision that risks our country’s global climate leadership and hurts our economic interests around clean energy.

Yet, this moment also offers states and regions an opportunity to aim high and lead the transition to a clean energy future. During my third week, Acadia Center joined other advocates to thank Governor Malloy for committing Connecticut to the Paris Agreement’s climate pollution goals and to pursue policies that will help achieve those goals, as well as for being a leader in the new U.S Climate Alliance, a bipartisan commitment by governors throughout the country to commit to reducing climate pollution. A recent analysis by Acadia Center, EnergyVision 2030, shows that Northeast states can be on the path to a low-carbon future by the year 2030 if they commit to and embrace clean energy technologies. With further strategic action and expanding adoption of modern, market-ready technologies, Northeast states can reduce climate pollution emissions 45% by 2030: a target needed to put the region on the path to meet scientifically directed emission reductions of 80% by 2050.

With a special legislative session called to address the state budget, Acadia Center’s Connecticut team continues to advance policies that benefit consumers and the environment. To reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions as well as to accelerate the growth of our clean energy economy, creating new jobs and state revenue, the state needs policies that support our award-winning energy efficiency programs. Additionally, we need policies that make us competitive with our neighboring states in pursing clean energy resources. This includes strengthening the state’s commitment to renewable energy procurement and encouraging electrification of the transportation sector and increased deployment of electric vehicles.

Both federal and state policies can affect the state’s clean energy economy, and it is from that perspective that I look forward to the many opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. My experiences this past month have made me look forward even more to being part of a team advancing the clean energy future through fact-based, solutions-oriented advocacy and collaboration.