Lexington Sen. Barrett gives inside look at state’s latest climate policy

Lexington Minuteman
When did you start working on this climate package?

In June, so about seven months. I wanted to do a complete scan of the state government, because I chaired the energy committee and had noticed that state agencies all acknowledge the importance of climate change but still seem to be pursuing missions that were apart from it. I think climate has come up on us rather suddenly and caught us by surprise; the issue has been percolating for 30 years, but it suddenly seems very real. I had two priorities. One was to make sure state agencies were aligned and all pulling in the same direction. The other was making sure we set policies that would reassure all of us that we’re going to do something about this.

What aspects of the bill are most noteworthy?

I’ll tell you, I don’t completely trust the ability of the government to come clean about how well we’re doing. In the future, we’re going to be looking to governors to be reporting about their own performance. I don’t think that works, human nature doesn’t work like that. So we’re proposing an independent commission to really be the truth teller and the monitor. It would be the first in the country. I observed that information is held closely by the executive branch, even despite the fact that we’ve got a pretty good governor on this topic. I saw them basically holding back data that might reflect poorly on their performance, specifically around the climate issue. I should mention that this isn’t a problem with Governor Baker specifically, the same problem existed with Deval Patrick. Both Republican and Democratic governors don’t want to be held accountable. Again, I’m not even really blaming them, I think they’re embodying human nature, but I’m no longer willing to put up with it.