“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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
“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?”
“In the climate front, despite all the dire circumstances we are confronted with, we should have hope,” Barrett said last week in an interview. Barrett, whose district includes Bedford, pointed out that recently-signed federal legislation “seemed dead in the water. And then we have a new state climate bill that seemed destined for a gubernatorial veto but is now law.”
“Two last-minute rescues have resulted in a lot of opportunities for Massachusetts,” Barrett said. But many of those opportunities are competitive, he added.
Beacon Hill has a clear transit to-do list for the coming legislative session, centered around setting the MBTA up for long-term success. First, testimony at last week’s State House hearing investigating the MBTA’s safety overseers at the Department of Public Utilities showed and as state Sen. Mike Barrett identified, we need a dedicated body within state government to handle transit safety supervision.
Each state has a designated agency to oversee rapid transit safety, conducting on-the-ground audits in consultation with the Federal Transit Administration. In Massachusetts, that agency is the DPU, which also oversees electric and gas utilities. Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, Senator Mike Barrett, said a separate transportation commission may be better suited to oversee T safety.
“I am very concerned that the safety division historically has been an afterthought at the agency,” he said. The primary focus of the DPU needs to be climate change policy, Barrett said, and the T safety crisis is a “fire drill situation” distracting from that effort. The hearing comes just over a month after the Federal Transit Administration released its safety management inspection findings about the T.
That prompted Sen. Michael Barrett, chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, to ask about creating a separate agency that would allow better hiring incentives.
“If the Transportation Oversight Division were an independent commission,” he wondered, “let’s say it might well be able to pay hiring bonuses like the MBTA.”
State Sen. Michael Barrett, co-chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, put DPU chair Matt Nelson on the spot after Nelson defended his department’s efforts on T safety.
“So we should be quiet and just let the status quo continue?” Barrett asked.
Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, Senator Mike Barrett, said a separate transportation commission may be better suited to oversee T safety.
“I am very concerned that the safety division historically has been an afterthought at the agency,” he said. The primary focus of the DPU needs to be climate change policy, Barrett said, and the T safety crisis is a “fire drill situation” distracting from that effort.