Madeleine Lombard: Students create film about fracked gas, get eye-opener on issue (Daily Hampshire Gazette 3/29/19)
I’m a senior at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield. As part of our expeditionary learning project this year, my senior class produced a 47-minute documentary, “Under Pressure,” about our state’s dependence on fracked gas.
We traveled to the Merrimack Valley to interview survivors of the tragic gas explosions, emergency responders, scientists, gas company representatives, elected officials, and grassroots activists. My understanding of this issue now goes way beyond headlines.
Fracked gas is not “natural,” nor is it a “bridge fuel” as it has been cleverly spun. Tracked from extraction to end use, gas is dirtier than coal. It is a harmful indoor pollutant. It does not support a shift to clean energy; it delays it. The fracked gas industry makes false claims of “capacity shortages” as an excuse to build bigger pipelines and expand use. (read more)
Boston makes its move into electricity purchasing for its residents and businesses (Boston Globe 3/19/19)
The city of Boston has proven to be an elusive grand prize among electricity brokers, but a Marlborough firm finally won the jackpot.
Officials in Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s administration just picked Colonial Power Group to coordinate a massive electricity purchase on behalf of some 190,000 residential accounts and up to 31,000 business accounts across the city.
About 150 cities and towns in Massachusetts beat Boston to this point, as part of a trend known as community choice aggregation that involves switching the vast majority of a particular municipality’s accounts away from the incumbent utility’s suppliers. (Eversource and National Grid still deliver the electricity and bill the customers.) The primary motivator: the desire to pick a greener option to combat climate change on a local level. (read more)
BOSTON — Environmental advocates are pressing for an increase in the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Sierra Club credited state building regulators this week for adopting new provisions in the state building code that will require at least one “EV-Ready space” in any new commercial construction with more than fifteen parking spaces.
But the group also described the move as a small step and said the state has to do more to speed a wider adoption of electric cars in part by making it easier for owners to charge their cars while at home or at work.
A coalition of environmental groups had sent a letter urging tougher building code requirements.
Massachusetts has set a goal of having 300,000 “zero emission vehicles” on the road by 2025. (read more)
Much of recent effort on Beacon Hill to clean our energy and cut industrial carbon pollution has focused on our big electric utilities, but we’ve overlooked a critical slice of our energy pie. Right now, 14 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts is provided by municipal light plants, owned, maintained and operated by communities to provide electric and/or gas services to their citizens. The Massachusetts Climate Action Network has taken a first-of-its-kind look at MLPs on transitioning to clean energy, and what we’ve found is a golden opportunity to make fast affordable gains on providing clean, efficient energy to Massachusetts consumers.
We graded all 41 MLPs on their clean energy supply portfolios, energy efficiency programs, transparency to their customers, and the extent to which they plan to reduce their dependence on dirty energy over time. We found that while several stood out for their good work, many of them need a great deal of improvement to keep pace with the commonwealth’s clean energy policies and goals. (read more)
Sierra Club’s Massachusetts climate leadership summit focuses on push for change (MetroWest Daily News 3/17/19)
FRAMINGHAM — Ben Hellerstein discussed efforts Saturday to help communities commit to reaching 100 percent renewable energy as a long-term target, and how policies at local levels can help achieve that goal, during the Sierra Club’s statewide climate leadership summit at Framingham State University.
More than 100 cities across the nation have committed to this target, and at least 12 are in Massachusetts, including Natick and Lowell, said Hellerstein of Environmental Massachusetts.
Massachusetts also has the greatest offshore wind potential in the nation, the equivalent to 19 times the state’s annual energy consumption, said Hellerstein, an elected Town Meeting member in Brookline.
Despite these strides during the past 20 years, Massachusetts residents have witnessed natural gas more than double its share in electricity generation in the state, he said, referring to a December 2018 article in the “New York Times.” (read more)
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