Back Bay Pipeline Delayed

On November 2, 2017, Boston’s Public Improvement Commission (PIC) held a public hearing on a pipeline proposed by National Grid. Transporting fracked natural gas, the pipeline would go through the Back Bay and South End.  Approximately 60 Boston residents attended the hearing in protest.  Organized by the Boston Clean Energy Coalition (BCEC), the hearing’s protestors included members of the Boston Climate Action Network (BCAN), Mothers Out Front, 350.org, and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.

According to Jom Michel, a Steering Team Member of BCEC, “In the Back Bay, a few activists are trying to wake up their fellow citizens,” most of whom oppose the pipeline. He said that National Grid has not been open at all.  “The planning process was behind closed doors.  Before that, you could call it a rumor.”

To reduce Boston’s carbon emissions, BCEC advocates energy efficiency and clean energy for the City’s buildings, with the goal of making them net zero in terms of their carbon footprint. Jom stated that it doesn’t make sense to construct buildings powered by natural gas.  He said, “The pipeline is going to feed luxury condos so they can have their gas fireplaces and their gas stoves . . .  It’s not passive housing; it’s not what it needs to be.”

For the time being, the City Council has placed a moratorium on the decision-making process to allow National Grid to proceed with its pipeline. This is thanks to BCEC asking Councilor Josh Zakim to introduce a resolution calling for the moratorium.  PIC will hold another hearing regarding the pipeline on November 16, 2017.  The Mayor’s office has also asked National Grid to hold a public hearing, so residents will have a chance to voice their concerns.  Thus far, no date has been set for this hearing.

 

Hearing Tuesday: Boston must step up the pace of climate action!

This Tuesday, BCAN and our allies will argue before Boston’s City Council that the city government must take a crucial step to speed up its actions to fight climate change: implement Community Choice Energy. Be there: anytime from 1:30 till 5pm, in the City Council’s temporary meeting room at 26 Court Street, one block up hill from State Street Station.

Boston’s leaders know that addressing climate change with a range of tactics is essential, but hardly any attention has been focused on switching our energy dollars from fossil fuels to clean, safe and renewable energy. Community Choice Energy is a tactic that numerous other cities and towns in eastern Mass. have already embraced. It’s time for Boston to take this step too.

This can’t wait for another plan to be created. Climate change is already affecting Boston residents with heat waves and stronger storms. Just this past Saturday a torrential downpour produced severe flooding in East Boston and other North Shore communities. Here’s a report compiled by The Harborkeepers:

“Yesterday was another warning sign of the increasing impacts of the changing climate and the increase of more frequent and intense storm events and precipitation. East Boston received 4.54 inches of rain within a matter of hours. Other North Shore towns like Winthrop and Lynn underwent a worse fate, in some ways. I took some notes and did a recap.

  • East Boston received 4.54 inches, most of it in a matter of hours
  • Homes in East Boston which typically don’t get basement flooding got their basements flooded
  • The stormwater drainage system & sewers could not handle the amount of rain hence they overflowed
  • Route 1A in East Boston both South and North by the Chelsea Street bridge and right next to the oil terminal got flooded causing an accident, at least 1 car stuck and backups on the highway
  • 2 neighborhoods in particular in Lynn and Winthrop (Michael’s Mall & Ingleside Park) were  flooded with more than three feet of water causing cars to get stuck and forcing evacuations of homes and rescues2017-9-30 Winthrop flooding
  • Power outages were reported in Winthrop, East Boston and Lynn
  • Unprecedented amounts of rain gushed down the hills of Orient Heights causing a mudslide from Gladstone to Leyden streets which broke a retaining wall and pushed mud and silt down city streets and sewers
  • Some roads and streets were flooded to the point of being impassable including in Winthrop, Lynn, Chelsea, Revere and East Boston
  • A house fire was reported at around 3am in the area where there was flooding in Winthrop
  • Downed distribution poles also were reported.”

Community choice energy would significantly speed up our transition to renewable power. Come out on Tuesday and let the City Council and the Mayor know it’s time to step it up on reducing Boston’s use of fossil fuels.

Community Choice Energy in the News

A recent Op/Ed in the Dorchester Reporter discussed Community Choice Energy as one of the best tools Boston has to fight climate change.

In October the City Council will take up a proposal for Community Choice Energy, which would add more renewable power to the electricity we use without raising our bills, and encourage the energy industry to build more solar and wind farms. Cities around Boston are doing it successfully and most members of the city council favors that program. Mayor Walsh should endorse it now. It’s the fastest, cheapest way to start us down a fossil-free road.

Read the full article here.

To help Community Choice Energy passed, we need people to show up to the hearing and pack the hall!

Say You’ll Be There

CCE in the JP Gazette

The JP Gazette recently posted an Op/Ed piece explaining the case being made for Community Choice Energy in the Boston City Council.

It clearly explains the core mechanics of CCE and the goals of Councilors Wu and O’Malley.

With CCE, the City of Boston would get a higher portion of the fuel used for electricity in homes and small businesses from renewable sources like wind and solar, in addition to the 12 percent already in place. State law requires utilities to buy an increasing amount of renewable energy every year.

Toward those goals, it is hoped that the City administration comes to the conclusion that adopting the CCE in a careful way will benefit all the people and businesses in Boston and figures out how to institute CCE as soon as possible. As the Carbon Free Boston report says, “It is important that this work starts now.”

Check out the Community Choice Energy page if you’d like to learn more and why people are getting excited it.

Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Accords

President Trump announced last week his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords.  This decision is misinformed and reckless.  It ignores the overwhelming evidence that the world is getting hotter every year, and gives up our role of global leadership.  Exiting the agreement aligns the U.S. with Syria and Nicaragua, the only other two countries in the world that did not commit to the Paris Accords.

Trump said “I was elected to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”  It’s worthwhile to linger on the know-nothingness of this statement for a moment.  The people of Paris did not form the climate accords – world leaders did, gathered in Paris to represent the people of their nations.  Pittsburgh, like all U.S. cities, will face hotter summers, refugee crises, food shortages, and other terrible effects of climate change if it is not addressed.

The ignorance of this decision and rhetoric is palpable.

So – what do we do now?

State and Local Action

With continued inaction at the federal level, it’s clear that the responsibility of meeting the challenges of climate change falls to the state and local levels of government.  Several states have banded together to form the Climate Alliance, with the stated goal of acting to meet the Paris Accord carbon reductions without federal support.

Massachusetts has joined the Alliance, and Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh have issued statements rejecting Trump’s decision.

Now those statements need to turn into policy.  We have a long way to go to reduce our carbon footprint in Boston to meet our climate goals.  Energy efficiency, green jobs, and resiliency planning should all come to the forefront now.

One of the easiest wins for the City of Boston is to adopt Community Choice Energy.  It would cost the city nothing to implement, and we will accelerate our transition to renewable energy by adopting more of it for our residents and businesses.

What You Can Do

City Council is considering this approach now.

Call Mayor Walsh (617-635- 4500) to tell him that you support Community Choice Energy, and that you consider the environment an important election year issue.

Call your City Councilor to ask that they support the plan brought forth by Councilors Wu and O’Malley to adopt Community Choice to get more renewable energy for Boston.

If you’re dismayed by the short-sighted withdrawal from the Paris accords, then you can still do something to resist, fight back, and help preserve the environment.