Mass. Senate Introduces Climate Change Bills Calling for Net-Neutral Emissions MassLive

The Massachusetts Senate unveiled a three-bill package that sets a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 100 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, instead of the state’s current target of cutting emissions by 80 percent by the deadline.

The package would not only update the state’s 2050 emissions target, but would also create limits for emissions every five years, starting in 2025 and create a commission to review whether the state is on pace to meet its obligations.

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, said lawmakers have been working on the climate change package since July and let the Baker administration know of their plans in November.

“The idea here isn’t to cop a headline or spring a surprise. We really want consensus … I was very impressed and very grateful to the governor for having embraced net-zero earlier this week,” Barrett said

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Senate Climate Bills Would Push State to Adopt Carbon Pricing Boston Globe

Spilka and Senator Michael J. Barrett, who has been crafting the climate legislation since June, said they both support Baker’s pursuit of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, an ambitious but controversial pact among eastern states that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and could raise gas prices by as much as 17 cents a gallon.

Barrett, who’s unsuccessfully pushed legislation to create taxes or fees on carbon, suggested it’s more politically feasible to pursue a pricing method if the legislation includes options.

“I decided to shift focus from trying to being prescriptive to setting deadlines. If you can move from the tool to the timeline, you can actually get a lot more support,” Barrett said.

“It’s not a spending bill,” the Lexington Democrat added of the Senate’s proposal. “It really is a bill to mobilize state government and have us focused in one direction.”

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Senate to Vote on Sweeping Climate Change Bill Common Wealth Magazine

THE SENATE IS PREPARING to vote on sweeping legislation to address climate change, putting in place a series of mandates and regulatory measures as well as phased-in carbon pricing on automobile and building fuels to make sure the state meets the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, who is taking the lead on the climate change legislation, said he and his staff shared with the Baker administration in November their legislative plans, including the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. “We shared that with them because the idea here is not to cop a headline or spring a surprise. We really want consensus,” Barrett said, adding that he was thrilled the governor signed on earlier this week and House Speaker Robert DeLeo also said he was on board. “That tells me it’s possible to align objectives here,” he said. “We’re coming together.”

“We’re tightening up at every turn here,” Barrett said. “We’re getting very serious about holding ourselves accountable and then figuring out how well we’ve done, so that if we fall short in meeting one limit we’re going to double down to meet it the next time around. There’s not going to be any more slacking off and no more talk of three-year delays before you complain on how well Massachusetts is doing.”

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Hearing exposes tensions over climate policy pace The Taunton Daily Gazette

Barrett voiced frustration that the administration would not be committing itself to a plan before the 2020 elections to allow candidates for the state legislature to have a debate about the state’s climate policy.

Holding up a copy of the 2018 Comprehensive Energy Plan published by the Department of Energy Resources, Barrett described it as 165-pages with “not a single discernable plan.” He said he wanted to know, for example, what the administration’s plan was to convert 2.4 million privately-owned, gas-powered vehicles to electric.

“Your leadership on TCI is crucial and it’s also gutsy, and I appreciate that. Still, this endless infatuation with planning and scenario building is frustrating,” Barrett said.

“At some point, scenarios become a dodge,” Barrett said.

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MASSDEMS ENDORSE “GREEN NEW DEAL FOR MASSACHUSETTS NOW” The Somerville Weekly News

“Climate change is relentless, and ‘putting a price on carbon’ is the single most effective thing a state government can do to fight it,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett, a longtime champion of carbon pricing.  “We need to put Massachusetts state government at the forefront — right where our constituents want it to be.”

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Lexington Climate Strike demands action against climate change Wicked Local

With other speakers on the bleachers with him, State Senator Mike Barrett talks to the hundreds gathered on the Lexington High School football field for the Lexington Climate Strike Friday, Sept. 20, 2019

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Solar backlash may make it tough to build larger projects in Mass. Boston Globe

Senator Michael Barrett, cochairman of the Legislature’s energy committee, says he has watched this backlash against solar power with dismay. Rooftop solar is great — he has panels on his house in Lexington. But Barrett says the state can’t wean itself off natural gas- and oil-fired power plants without larger, industrial-scale solar projects getting built. He worries that the anti-solar attitudes are driven by NIMBY attitudes among neighbors who simply don’t want to see panels near them.

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Local legislators chime in on licenses for undocumented immigrants Wicked Local

BOSTON — Supporters of a bill that would make driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants packed the State House’s largest hearing room on Sept. 4 to renew the push for a policy that has come up short in previous sessions and would need to be passed with enough support to survive a likely veto by Gov. Charlie Baker.

The legislation — House Bill 3012 and Senate Bill 2061 — filed by Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield and Christine Barber of Somerville, and Sen. Brendan Crighton of Lynn, would permit all qualified residents, regardless of immigration status, to apply for and receive a standard state license under the state’s now two-tiered system.

Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) also supports the legislation.

“I’m in favor … and my constituents are, too,” he said. “I’ve gotten about two dozen supportive emails at this point. I know realistically, that the district won’t be unanimous about the idea, but there is no system here for making sure everybody on the road is licensed and has demonstrated some degree of competence. I don’t want anyone driving unless they are licensed. So, I want to open a channel for them.”

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Lexington senator pushes for president tax return requirement Wicked Local

With legal challenges pending over a new California law requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns to appear on the ballot, the sponsor of a similar bill in Massachusetts said the Bay State should follow suit before waiting for the court cases to play out.

Sen. Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, who filed a presidential tax returns bill in January for the second consecutive session, said the Legislature often passes laws that could be subject to a challenge in court, and in those cases they act on the bill and then “let litigants sue.”

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Lawmakers hike assessment on utilities 50% CommonWealth

THOUGH LAWMAKER LEFT a handful of proposed taxes on the cutting room floor when they compromised on a budget, the fiscal year 2020 spending plan being reviewed by Gov. Charlie Baker includes a 50 percent increase in the annual assessment imposed upon gas and electric utility companies.

The assessment of a percentage of each utility company’s Massachusetts revenue is meant to be a reimbursement of the cost of overseeing and regulating the gas and electric industries. The budget awaiting Baker’s action would raise the maximum rate of that assessment from 0.2 percent of revenue to 0.3 percent of revenue.

Sen. Michael Barrett, who filed the assessment increase as a budget amendment, said the idea stemmed from September’s natural gas explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley, and the subsequent closer look at the Department of Public Utilities.

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CARBON TAX with a TWIST Politico Massachusetts Playbook

EXCLUSIVE: CARBON TAX WITH A TWIST — As we cross the first deadline of this legislative session — bill filing day — education funding and climate change have emerged as top issues. The challenge, of course, is how to get them done.

But Lexington state Sen. Michael Barrett has an idea to kill two birds with one stone: Why not direct some of the money generated by carbon pricing to fund education? A draft of Barrett’s carbon tax bill circulated to various environmental groups, viewed by POLITICO, would disburse 30 percent of money in a “carbon pricing trust fund” to education aid for cities and towns. Sixty percent of the money would go to the state transportation fund, 5 percent would go to a new environmental health and justice trust fund, and 5 percent would go toward electric vehicles, Barrett said.

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In Massachusetts, momentum builds for carbon pricing for transportation Energy News Network

As Massachusetts legislators start their new year, bills calling for carbon fees for transportation are gaining momentum, with many lawmakers and advocates optimistic that a measure could make it to the governor’s desk this session.

“This issue is now up on everybody’s radar screen,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett, a longtime advocate of carbon pricing. “Let the debate about fair and effective design begin.”

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Senate sees waves of energy, candidates in climate movement Gloucester Daily Times

BOSTON — As local climate activists turn up the heat on state lawmakers, action from outside the Bay State’s borders may also increase the pressure for additional steps on energy policy.

Environmental advocates here say they’ll make the case to elected officials and the public at large that the state must boost its commitment to renewable power. Meanwhile, California recently passed a suite of new clean energy laws, and government leaders from across the globe gathered there to discuss strategies for responding to climate change.

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who is co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, was among the participants in the Global Climate Action Summit.

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Columbia Gas Faces The Public’s Wrath WGBH Greater Boston

Days after the Merrimack Valley gas explosions, the company responsible for the gas lines around that region says it could take months to restore gas to some 8,500 affected customers.

Residents have already shared stories of standing in line for hours over the weekend as they waited to file claims for losses like medicine and food. So customers might be forgiven if they don’t have the greatest faith in this company at this point.

Jim was joined by state senator Michael Barrett, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, and State Senator Bruce Tarr, whose district includes North Andover and who also sits on that committee.

Watch the video here: https://bit.ly/2D8CHRw

State Senator Mike Barrett Joins Worldwide Summit on Global Warming The Bedford Citizen

State Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) is in San Francisco this week to participate in the Global Climate Action Summit organized by California governor Jerry Brown and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The invitation came from organizers of the event.  Barrett, Senate chair of the state legislative committee concerned with energy issues, wrote legislation approved unanimously by the Senate earlier this year to “put a price on carbon.”  Barrett, along with many economists, contends that carbon pricing is the single most effective step a government can take to combat climate change.

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Senator Barrett hits a homerun for clean rivers The Milford Daily News

Local State Senator Mike Barrett secured $25,000 in this year’s long-awaited state budget to allow OARS volunteers to monitor the water quality of our three beautiful rivers! This funding covers about half the costs involved in testing the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord rivers, which generates data for the state’s pollution prevention programs.

Senator Barrett’s effort to ensure the state continues to contribute to this essential local initiative is exemplary—the program is cost-effective, quality-controlled, and engages residents in citizen science. Crucially, the scientific information it provides paves the way for sound decision-making by our towns, state and federal government, so that we can keep our MetroWest rivers safe for our families, communities and wildlife. To see what it pays for, you can download the latest report at: www.oars3rivers.org/river/waterquality/reports.

Thank you, Senator Barrett! We are also grateful to the chief budget negotiators, Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, for their role in securing this funding.

Alison Field-Juma

OARS Executive Director

Concord

Read the Milford Daily Article Here

Chelmsford opens Friendship Park Chelmsford Independent

As temperatures soared on Saturday morning, so did hearts filled with anticipation of the ribbon-cutting for the new Friendship Park at Roberts Field on June 30.

State Sen. Michael Barrett, of Lexington, calling attention to the new playground equipment’s emphasis on accessibility, said the playground represents “the cutting-edge of awareness, for people with all kinds of challenges and disabilities. You are causing us to rethink all manner of things.”

Read the Chelmsford Independent article

 

Massachusetts Senate approves revenue-neutral carbon tax as part of energy bill Mass Live

BOSTON — In passing comprehensive energy legislation Wednesday night, the Massachusetts Senate approved a “revenue-neutral” carbon fee designed to incentivize low-emissions lifestyles and business practices.

An Act Combating Climate Change, sponsored by Michael Barrett, D-Lexington, would add a “pollution charge” to fossil fuel prices and return that money in equal measure to people and businesses.

Read the Mass Live article

 

Mass. Bill would let Taxpayers Aid Countries Hit by Climate Change Washington Times

BOSTON — A state lawmaker wants to let Massachusetts residents donate to poorer countries hit hardest by climate change when they fill out their tax returns.

Sen. Mike Barrett said his bill is in part a reaction to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris accord meant to address climate change.

The bill would add a line to state tax forms to let taxpayers make a donation over and above their regular payment.

Read the Washington Times article