Climate Action

Climate Action

Climate change is already affecting our health and livelihoods, with the greatest impact on communities of color, low-income and working-class families, and immigrant communities -- or “environmental justice” populations. We need to act now in order to mitigate and eliminate pollution, ensure a just transition to clean energy, and provide for climate resilience. I'll work with environmental advocates, labor leaders, community members, and legislative partners towards a sustainable future that centers equity and justice. 

Pollution Mitigation

Transportation, heating, and electricity are responsible for the majority of fossil fuel use in our state. While the Commonwealth is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 with a goal of net zero emissions by 2050, we need to act with greater urgency. Working with Environment Massachusetts, MASSPIRG and partners in the State House, I helped draft and file legislation to transition Massachusetts to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and 100% clean heating and transportation by 2045. 

The 100% Clean Act would require utilities to provide 100% clean electricity by 2035, with at least 15% of new renewable energy generation from distributed resources like rooftop solar. It would also phase in requirements for new buildings to be highly energy efficient and use clean heating by 2045, require at least 1 million homes and 300 million square feet of commercial space to be retrofitted for efficiency and clean heating by 2030, and establish a trust fund to offset the costs for residents and businesses to transition to clean heating. Finally, it would require Regional Transit Authorities to transition to zero emission buses, require commuter rail lines to be electrified, and establish a Main Streets Program to promote walkable, bikeable, and transit-accessible neighborhoods. The bill also includes Just Transition provisions that are described in the section below.

Comprehensive climate action requires efforts at every level of government. I strongly support the Somerville Climate Forward plan, which establishes community climate action goals for 2030 and 2040 along with a goal of becoming carbon net-negative by 2050. These goals can only be met with the help of partners at the state level who will fight for policies like expanding networked geothermal services, requiring utilities to assess and address potential risks, improving the Mass Save program, and coordinating regional transmission and distribution upgrades. I am committed to championing these policies if elected.  

In addition, I’ve worked with MASSPIRG, the Sierra Club, and legislative partners to draft and file bills that would ban most single-use styrofoam containers and update the state’s Bottle Bill. The bottle deposit system is our most successful tool for boosting recycling rates, but the deposit and handling fees need to be increased and the statute needs to be expanded to cover water bottles, nips, vitamin drinks, and other beverage containers that weren’t on the market when the Bottle Bill was first enacted. I also helped file legislation to create a clean fuel standard and I support legislation to reduce the use of plastic bags and PFAS, or “forever chemicals.”

Equity and Justice

In order to ensure equity and justice in our green future, the people most impacted by climate change and the transition from fossil fuel use must be directly involved in the decision-making process. In addition to its climate goals, the 100% Clean Act establishes a Just Transition Office to assist workers and a Clean Energy Equity Office to ensure that environmental justice (EJ) communities benefit from clean energy incentive programs. It also requires public hearings to implement the bill to be held in EJ communities, with residents sitting on advisory committees. 

Furthermore, I helped to draft and file legislation that would ensure green jobs are good jobs, provide additional opportunities and benefits for displaced energy workers, and establish a Healthy and Sustainable Schools Office to offer apprenticeship training programs and prioritize hiring from environmental justice communities. These bills are priorities of the Climate Jobs for Massachusetts coalition, which includes “labor unions and partners who represent workers and residents from Gloucester to Cape Cod, and from Boston to the Berkshires.” 

  • The Clean Energy Workforce Standards and Accountability Act 
    • Ensures energy construction and infrastructure projects are sufficiently staffed with highly qualified workers and comply with the state’s prevailing wage laws
    • Requires potential developers and contractors on publicly funded projects to make disclosures and certifications during the bidding process that ensure responsible contractors are selected for each project
    • Requires adherence to public bidding and prevailing wage statutes on all clean energy and climate remediation projects funded, owned, or leased by the Commonwealth
    • Utilizes labor peace agreements for renewable energy supply chain investments
    • Requires the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a comprehensive workforce development plan
  • An Act Relative to A Just Transition to Clean Energy
    • Establishes a Just Transition Office
    • Creates a Just Transition Advisory Committee
    • Provides a safety net for workers
    • Amends gas system enhancement plan enabling legislation
    • Expands Department of Public Utilities jurisdiction
    • Ensures labor representation on climate and energy decision-making bodies
  • An Act Relative to Healthy and Sustainable Schools
    • Requires energy audits for public schools, public universities, and community colleges
    • Creates a Healthy and Sustainable Schools Office within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
    • Dedicates a budget to finance energy audits and install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems

I also support legislation to give impacted communities a stronger voice in energy facilities’ siting decisions, to incorporate environmental justice principles into stakeholder engagement, and to expand utility bill discounts for low- and moderate-income ratepayers. These measures demonstrate our commitment to dismantling structural racism, addressing economic inequality, and creating safe and healthy communities.  

Climate Resilience

According to the City’s 2023 Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Update, Somerville “is susceptible to three primary hazards: extreme heat, stormwater flooding, and coastal flooding.” This will come as no surprise to residents who have already experienced the impacts of weather patterns becoming hotter and wetter over recent years. Considering the increasingly severe impacts that these hazards are projected to have on communities and infrastructure in Somerville and across the Commonwealth, our climate action plans must include building climate resilience. 

Both the Commonwealth and the City of Somerville have already set goals for climate hazard mitigation. At the state level, that includes establishing a Comprehensive Coastal Resilience Plan, investing in energy infrastructure from solar panels to community microgrids, and developing plans for floodplain management and extreme heat events. Somerville’s goals include requiring new construction and major renovations to minimize not only climate pollution but also climate risk, updating the energy grid with increased backup power capacity, and implementing the City’s Hazard Mitigation Plan and Flood Mitigation and Water Quality Master Plan. Achieving these goals will require collaboration between local, state, regional and federal officials and staff. As State Representative, I will use the relationships and trust that I have built in the State House to advance critical climate resilience initiatives.