Groundhog Day

Ms. G, goodwill ambassador for rodents everywhere in her capacity as official Groundhog of the Commonwealth, gave an enthusiastic thumbs-up this morning to Governor Maura Healey on the occasion of Groundhog Day. Kudos to Mass Audubon for hosting. According to Gov. Healey, Ms. G did not see her shadow, so we’re in store for an early spring.

‘There’s a dam breaking:’ Cities and towns start to kick fossil fuels with new building code Jan. 17th, 2023 --- Boston Globe

“This effort to get a municipality to opt in is going to invigorate grass-roots politics in 2023 like you’ve never seen before,” said Barrett, coauthor of the 2021 climate bill that required the creation of the new, optional building code. 


Concord Indivisible rallies for democracy Jan. 17th, 2023 --- Concord Bridge

Barrett said he was proud to witness the swearing-in of Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, and Senate President Karen Spilka. “Anyone who saw those three women up there couldn’t help but feel proud,” said Barrett.

He gave a shout-out to Healey for “giving climate change a big upgrade.”


As I addressed a rally in Concord to mark the January 6th attacks on the Capitol, the spectacle of what unfolded in Washington in the past week was on our minds, too.
The arc of history can take longer than we expect to come back our way, but it still bends toward justice. Our task is to do the work, so that the arc meets up with the world a little sooner.

Lawmakers walk tightrope on wind power contracts Jan. 9th, 2023 --- CommonWealth Magazine

Appearing on The Codcast, Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington and Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin said they were sympathetic to the challenges the wind farm developers are facing, including rising inflation and interest rates, supply chain difficulties, and the war in Ukraine.

“The world is a different place,” Barrett said. “The war in Ukraine could not have been anticipated. The impact on natural gas prices in Europe and the attraction of LNG toward Europe and away from New England which relies on LNG [liquefied natural gas] for winter heating could not have been entirely anticipated. Supply chain disruptions are real.”


Rally at Concord church to demand justice after Jan. 6 uprising Jan. 7th, 2023 --- Boston Globe

Other local officials stepped up in Clark’s place Saturday to rally the crowd and tout the influence that the Democrat from Revere will hold as Democratic whip after she was elected to that role in November.

“Talk about Massachusetts catching a lucky break and seeing one of its truly great legislators on the cusp of assuming national power,” State Senator Mike Barrett said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “Her performance over the last several weeks has been heroic.”


The Healey administration begins Jan. 6th, 2023 --- Politico

Key lawmakers quickly showed interest in some of Healey’s ideas. Senate President Karen Spilka said she’d “love to sit down” with the new administration about hiring for the T. State Sen. Mike Barrett said there’s impetus to act on Healey’s call for a “climate corridor,” telling reporters that “the Healey stamp, joined with Baker’s prior initiative, gives it that bipartisan character that we really need.”


Healey taps Rebecca Tepper, of attorney general’s office, as secretary of energy and environmental affairs December 28th, 2022 --- Boston Globe

State Senator Michael Barrett, a lead author of Massachusetts’ major 2021 and 2022 climate laws, said Tepper was a “shrewd” choice for EEA secretary.

“She knows the advocates. She knows the business community. She knows lots of legislators. She can make things happen for the Healey-Driscoll team,” he said.

He noted that Katie Theorides, who served as EEA secretary under Governor
Charlie Baker from 2019 through mid-2022, didn’t come into state government with the same extensive contact list.


“She brought some serious tools with her, but started from zero in terms of personal relationships and friendships in the legislative branch,” he said. “Tepper has the know-how and the contacts. That’s a very rare combination.”


With new report, Massachusetts charts the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 December 21st, 2022 --- Boston Globe

One example of how quickly things move: The plan released today does not account for any delays associated with Avangrid pulling out of Commonwealth Wind, according to state Senator Michael Barrett, a Democrat of Lexington.

“Going forward, I expect they’re going to have to make adjustments every several months because the world is changing rapidly and in unexpected ways,” said Barrett, one of the lead authors of the Massachusetts 2021 and 2022 climate laws. “Whether or not you put a revision down on paper and publish it every several months, your real strategy has to be congruent with the real world. So what’s required here is nimbleness and strategic agility even as you keep your eye on the long-term goal.”


Healey taps Melissa Hoffer of the EPA to serve as state’s first climate chief December 19th, 2022 --- Boston Globe

State Senator Michael Barrett, one of the lead authors of Massachusetts’ 2021 and 2022 climate laws, applauded the Hoffer pick, while noting that she will face numerous challenges, including the delays in the deployment of offshore wind, supply chain issues with the availability of electric vehicles, and the high costs of getting heat pumps into homes, which will probably require additional subsidies.

“At every turn, there are questions to confront,” Barrett said. “None of them are insuperable, but all of them mean real work. Melissa Hoffer is going to have a lot on her shoulders.”


The new Mass. climate law has generous electric vehicle rebates. Here’s what’s currently available for residents December 2nd, 2022 -- WBUR

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy Resources did not answer questions about why these benefits are delayed and why the MOR-EV website doesn’t list them under their section on what’s coming in 2023. But she did say in an email that the state is in the process of hiring a new vendor, and the department hopes to begin making these rebates available in the spring of 2023.

WBUR shared the new information with state Sen. Mike Barrett, an author of the law who was under the impression that all elements, with the exception of point-of-sale rebates, had been implemented.

“It is quite disappointing to realize that certain statutes that have been the law of the land here in Massachusetts since August of 2022 are being disregarded,” he said.

“All of us were [under the] impression that these provisions were effective along with other provisions.”


MBTA oversight should move from DPU to new agency, report says November 29th, 2022 --- Boston Herald

The only other “feasible” option for Massachusetts lawmakers, according to the report, is shifting oversight of the T from the DPU to a different, existing oversight entity, such as the state auditor, inspector general or the MBTA Advisory Board, the latter of which is composed of local mayors and other municipal officials.

State lawmakers are drafting legislation that considers both options put forward by the report, state Sen. Mike Barrett, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, told the Herald last week.

“I’m interested in moving transportation safety out of the DPU for two reasons,” Barrett said. “First, the DPU has blown it in terms of consistently attending to its oversight responsibility, but secondly as the climate issue looms larger and larger, I don’t want to see the DPU distracted by other issues.”


‘Bowels of hell’: Commission to probe history of Mass. state institutions November 25th, 2022 --- MassLive

State Sen. Mike Barrett, who also spearheaded the legislation for the special commission, recalled his college years in the 1960s, when a mentorship program brought him to Fernald to play with a 6-year-old boy. Barrett struggled to understand why the boy, who appeared to have no cognitive defects, was at the school, surrounded mostly by older adults.

“His story and the story of everyone with whom he lived hasn’t been told. We don’t know, even to this day, much about the lives that were lived,” Barrett said, drawing an analogy to The New York Times’ 1619 project that reminded “all of us that we don’t really know our own history as a country, or as a state, or as a community.”

“The truth here has eluded us,” Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, said of Fernald.


Lawmakers look to remove MBTA oversight from Department of Public Utilities November 25th, 2023 -- Boston Herald

State lawmakers are drafting legislation to move MBTA safety oversight out of the Department of Public Utilities.

“Work on the subject is quite intense,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett. “We have to decide whether all the transportation functions currently organized in the DPU should move over to an independent agency, or whether a new agency should focus only on the MBTA and safety.”


Wellesley teed up a bold move on climate action. Then came an offer it couldn’t refuse. October 26th, 2022 --- Boston Globe

State Senator Michael Barrett, one of the lead authors of Massachusetts’ 2021 and 2022 climate laws, has introduced legislation that would take control of Mass Save away from the utilities.

He said National Grid’s offer to Wellesley embodies what he said is a broad effort by the gas industry.

“This whole issue of the survival strategies by natural gas utilities is framed here,” he said. “They are pursuing a number of stratagems, and imposing these kinds of conditions.”


The new Mass. EV incentives won’t kick in until sometime in 2023 October 20th, 2022 --- WBUR

“It’s hard for me to accept that the minimum $3,500 subsidy — which became law … upon the date of the governor signing the DRIVE Act— is still not available to my constituents and to other people in Massachusetts,” Senator Mike Barrett, who helped craft the climate law, said at a Senate sub-committee meeting this week. “Why is that?”