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CLIMATE XCHANGE Policy Roundup: An UNCONVENTIONAL carbon price—BAKER wants new climate adaptation tax—COASTAL HOMES lose $400M in value

January 22nd, 2019 11:30 AM EST


by Tim Cronin (tim.cronin@cabaus.org, Twitter: @TimCroninMA)


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CARBON PRICING--
-Rep. Benson re-files carbon price in the House
: Representative Jennifer Benson is refiling her carbon pricing bill from last year, and is hoping the foundation she built last session will broaden support in the House. Last session marked the first time a carbon price was introduced in the House, with her bill receiving a total of 51 co-sponsors. The bill, HD.2370 An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions, directs 70% of revenue towards income-based rebates, with the remaining funds directed into a green infrastructure fund administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Read more about Rep. Benson’s bill here.

-Sen. Barrett proposes unconventional carbon price, and it just might work: Two weeks ago Senator Karen Spilka stood before environmental activists and promised that climate change was her top issue in the session to come. Yet the newly elected Senate President is facing pressure to act on a host of other issues, most notably education funding reform. But what if one proposal could solve both issues at once?

Senator Michael Barrett is proposing just such a bill. On Friday he filed SD.1817, An Act to combat climate change, which establishes a statewide price on carbon pollution and directs some of the revenue towards education. The bill sets aside 30% of revenue raised into a new carbon pricing trust fund for education aid for cities and towns. The rest goes towards the state’s transportation fund (60%), a new environmental health and justice trust fund (5%), and new clean energy projects (5%). Additionally, the bill sets a $60/ton carbon price, which is 50% larger than the one in the Senator Barrett’s previous carbon pricing proposals.

Senator Barrett’s proposal is closely modeled after a similar bill that passed the Senate last session but did not get through the House. According to POLITICO Massachusetts, “The somewhat unusual proposal is a gamble that energy behind education funding could give this carbon pricing effort a leg up in negotiations.” Will the gamble pay off? Feel free to send me your thoughts at tim.cronin@cabaus.org.

BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS--
-“Gov. Charlie Baker proposes raising real estate transfer tax to pay for effects of climate change in Massachusetts”
(Shira Schoenberg, MassLive): “Gov. Charlie Baker will propose raising the tax rate on real estate transfers in order to pay for infrastructure to address climate change. The proposal will be included in the governor’s fiscal 2020 budget, which he plans to release Wednesday… Baker’s latest proposal would increase the deeds excise rate, which is paid when a property is sold, from $2 per $500 of value to $3. (The rate would jump from $1.50 per $500 of value to $2.50 in Barnstable County, which includes Cape Cod.) This is expected to raise an additional $137 million a year, which Baker wants to deposit into a fund called the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund.”

-Legislative Update: Missed last week’s legislative update? Check it out here.

-“Bill seeks to speed Massachusetts’ transition to renewable energy” (Associated Press via Boston.com): “A bill filed at the Massachusetts State House seeks to help speed the state’s transition to renewable forms of energy. The bill would update the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act by setting new emissions level requirements: 50 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2030, 75 percent below by 2040, and net zero emissions by 2050.... Lawmakers last year proposed a bill that would press Massachusetts to achieve total renewable electricity generation by 2035 and phase out fossil fuels across all sectors, including heating and transportation, by mid-century.” Although a similar proposal passed the Senate, it failed to gain traction in the House, where leadership complained that the bill was not negotiated in good faith.

ALL POLICY IS LOCAL--
-“Flooding Already Costing Homeowners Millions In Lost Appreciation, Study Finds”
(Simón Rios, WBUR-FM): “For more than a decade, the impact of sea level rise and tidal flooding has been making waves on the real estate market of coastal New England, costing homeowners more than $400 million in lost value. That's according to a report from First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that studies the impact of sea level rise and flooding.”

-“Atlantic Bridge Advances After Massachusetts OKs Key Compressor Station” (Charlie Passut, Natural Gas Intel): “Massachusetts regulators have issued a critical air quality permit for Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC's Atlantic Bridge project, removing a longtime roadblock for the project designed to add natural gas pipeline capacity from Appalachia to New England and Eastern Canada… Atlantic Bridge is a 132,700 Dth/d expansion of the Algonquin and Maritimes & Northeast pipeline systems in New England, designed to flow south-to-north into Canada. The project was originally scheduled to enter service in November 2017, but Algonquin now expects to begin service in the first half of 2020, according to its website. Algonquin last February filed in federal court to accelerate the permitting process in Massachusetts.”

-“Massachusetts issues notices of noncompliance for violations of state recycling regulations” (Adam Redling, Recycling Today): “As part of the state’s commitment to help increase the diversion, reuse and recycling of materials, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced the agency issued 119 notices of noncompliance and eight waste ban orders with penalties to entities found violating the rules in 2018. These actions, which build upon the state’s recent efforts to promote the environmental benefits of recycling, were for violations involving the improper disposal of significant amounts of recyclable materials and cover a wide spectrum of public and private institutions, including the food and retail sectors, hospitality sector, and educational and medical facilities.”

INSIDE THE BELTWAY--
-“Democrats hit Trump EPA nominee on coal lobbying, rollbacks”
(Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press): “President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday called climate change “a huge issue” but not the “greatest crisis” and drew fire from Democrats at his confirmation hearing over the regulatory rollbacks he’s made in six months as the agency’s acting administrator. Republicans on the GOP-majority Senate Environment and Public Works Committee mostly had praise for Andrew Wheeler, who has served as the agency’s acting head since Scott Pruitt’s resignation in July amid ethics scandals… But Democrats pressed Wheeler about his work as a lobbyist helping an influential coal magnate meet with Trump administration officials before his nomination to the EPA and his moves on deregulation and on what they said was his inattention to the growing dangers of climate change.”

-“Trump cites massive winter storm to mock global warming” (Brett Samuels, the Hill): “President Trump in an early morning tweet on Sunday suggested global warming could be helpful as a massive snowstorm dropped several inches of snow and sent temperatures plunging across the Midwest and swaths of the Northeast United States.….The president, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the existence and effects of climate change, has regularly cited significant winter storms to mock the concept of global warming. He sent similar tweets in 2017 and 2011.”

-“Pentagon: Climate change threatens military installations” (Zack Colman): “Flooding, drought and wildfires driven by climate change pose threats to two-thirds of the U.S. military's installations, the Defense Department said in a new report required by Congress. The authors of the report, which the Pentagon delivered to Congress on Thursday, note that it probably underestimates the full extent of risk to military facilities because it only looks at likely impacts over the next two decades… Democrats were disappointed that the report lacked specifics they said were required by law, such as cost estimates to upgrade installations to ensure they can withstand the effects of climate change.”

THE WORD ON SOLAR--
-Lawmakers, industry experts talk about the future of solar
: The Climate Action Business Association is hosting its fourth annual Massachusetts State of Solar. The evening will feature a panel discussion on the political climate, accomplishments, and challenges for solar energy in Massachusetts. Panelists include State Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-Boston), Chief Development Officer at Sunwealth Solar Jessica Brooks, Senior Policy Advocate & Massachusetts Director of the Acadia Center Deborah Donovan, and Senior Solar Analyst at Greentech Media Allison Mond. More information on attending and registering for the event here.

OFFSHORE WIND--
-“New Hampshire Enters the Offshore Wind Race”
(Justin Gerdes, Greentech Media): “New Hampshire may soon join the handful of New England states actively pursuing offshore wind energy development. On January 2, Governor Chris Sununu sent a letter to Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, requesting that the agency establish an intergovernmental offshore renewable energy task force. The move is the first step in a multiyear process… Because New Hampshire does not have a large electric load, there is the potential, said Pullaro, for electricity generated at offshore wind projects to be sold in Massachusetts, Connecticut or even New York.”

BEYOND THE BAY STATE--
-“New York State To Invest $1.5 Billion in Renewable Energy Projects”
(Alyssa Danigelis, Energy Manager Today): “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo included $1.2 billion for renewable energy projects in the 2019 Executive Budget for the state. The investment is part of a broader multibillion-dollar Green New Deal aimed at completely eliminating the state’s carbon footprint. Cuomo’s agenda calls for 100% carbon-free power by 2040, $1.5 billion to be invested in competitive awards that support 20 large-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects across upstate New York, and as much as $200 million in port infrastructure to match private sector investment in regional development of offshore wind.”

OPINIONS--
-“Should a future president declare climate change a national emergency?”
by Greta Moran, via Grist.

-“Why Climate Change Would Have Alarmed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Marshall Shepherd, via Forbes.

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