The Environment

Recent Posts on LWVMA Action on the Environment

The Updated Bottle Bill

Environment

Day on the Hill April 25, 2012

LWVMA and Massachusetts local Leagues encourage legislation that protects the environment and seeks to control the human activities that contribute to global climate change. Although there has been little to no action at the federal level to curb greenhouse gases, LWVMA and local Leagues actively support action at the state and local levels. The Updated Bottle Bill seeks to increase the recycling of bottles and cans by adding a deposit at the time of purchase, similar to the current law, which only applies to carbonated beverages. The updated bottle bill would extend the law to bottles and cans not covered under the current law. See the posts listed above for updates on advocacy efforts for the updated bottle bill.

renewablePricing Carbon: Reducing Emissions Through the Market Place

As concern about human induced climate change mounts with each new storm, flood and drought, there is growing interest in available solutions that can work on a large scale to reduce emissions.  Pricing carbon to reflect its social cost (i.e., health and environmental  impacts throughout the full life cycle of a product – costs typically not borne by the polluter) is a form of environmental tax reform and is considered one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of reducing emissions.

Environmental taxes are not new (e.g., gasoline taxes). Revenues raised from environmental taxes can be ‘revenue neutral’ to offset financial impact on businesses and individuals. Funds can also be reinvested in the economy to promote industry and job growth in the renewable energy sector.

This topic is relevant in Massachusetts because of a new bill introduced by Representative Thomas Conroy (Wayland) and Senator Michael Barrett (Lexington) in January 2013: H.2532: An Act relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment. LWVMA submitted testimony in support of the H.2532 in April 2013.

H.2532 is based on the highly successful carbon pricing system in place in British Columbia for the past five years. H.2532 is essentially revenue neutral; revenue raised through the carbon fee would be used to offset the economic impact on businesses and citizens through tax relief and dividends. Additionally, H.2532 proposes that some amount of revenue be set aside for reinvestment into the economy in the public transportation and renewable energy sectors. The Governor’s office is currently studying the question of how best to implement carbon pricing in Massachusetts.

While pricing carbon to reflect its true cost to society would have the greatest and fastest impact if enacted at a national and global level, action at the state level has often paved the way for action on a broader scale by providing working models and experience, as well as leadership. Recently, California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia signed an accord to coordinate their carbon emissions pricing systems where possible, opening the door to regional agreements.

How you can help

Talking points in support of H.2532

H.2532: An Act relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment will:

  • Reduce usage and associated emissions by providing an immediate incentive for the public and businesses to conserve;
  • Generate much needed revenue for reinvestment in the Commonwealth to support transportation and clean energy initiatives;
  • Return a portion of revenues collected to households to mitigate or eliminate the impact of higher fuel costs through an equitable system of tax deductions, dividends and exemptions;
  • Provide clear price signals to industry and a permanent incentive to reduce the use of carbon-based fuels, steadily lowering emissions over time;
  • Build on a well-developed administrative structure of existing taxes for ease of implementation;
  • Stimulate the economy through money returned to and available to families to meet household needs and through job creation related to transportation infrastructure and clean energy development;
  • Reduce emissions related pollution along with associated health risks;
  • Provide a model of the bold action required to address the grave threat of human-induced climate change.

LWVUS Local League Toolkit for Climate Change

The LWVUS Climate Change Task Force encourages League members to consider adopting a Climate Initiative as part of their local program at their annual meetings this year.  There are two issue areas in particular where Leagues can make a real impact on greenhouse gas emissions — energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy. The Grassroots Action Priorities section of the LWVUS Climate Action Toolkit includes detailed information about climate solutions. To share your League’s story, please send your answers to these questions to Task Force Chair, Eleanor Revelle (er@revelle.net).