Archives for September 2017

Climate and Energy Solutions Series continues with Winchester Forum October 4

The forum addressed the sources and dramatic health impacts of air pollution.  A summary of Dr. Buonocore’s research related to the impact of carbon pricing on health benefits can be found at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website.

This event was part of LWVMA’s Climate and Energy Solutions Series. It was free and open to the public.

Click here for an event flyer.

Co-hosted by the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Winchester and LWV of Massachusetts, Wright-Locke Farm Conservancy, and Winchester Farmers’ Market Community Hub.

For a list of partnering organizations for the Climate and Energy Solutions Series click here.

Jonathan Buonocore, Sc.D., is the program leader for the Climate, Energy, and Health program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Jonathan’s research topics range from improving understanding of the health and environmental risks of pipelines, underground gas storage, and other midstream oil and gas infrastructure, to understanding health “co-benefits” of the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan and different energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, to understanding the health implications of fires in Indonesia. Jonathan received his doctoral degree from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Environmental Science and Risk Management in November 2013.

Jonathan also holds a Master of Science in Industrial Hygiene from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from Clarkson University.

Climate and Energy Solutions Series: Greening the Grid October 19

Speakers: Ariel Horowitz, PhD, Synapse and Megan Herzog, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation, MA.

The electric grid is an essential part of the energy infrastructure that will support increased clean energy sources. In order to successfully transition to clean energy, the grid must be able to handle the increased demand.

The Forum addressed:

  • What is the electric grid and who runs it?
  • Why is the grid important as we transition to clean energy?
  • How can the grid be modernized to support the transition?

A Question and Answer session followed.

This event was part of LWVMA’s Climate and Energy Solutions Series. It was free and open to the public.

Click here for an event flyer.

Presented by The League of Women Voters of Lexington and the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. Co-sponsored by Conservation Law Foundation, MA.

For a list of partnering organizations for the Climate and Energy Solutions Series click here.

Speakers

Ariel Horowitz is an expert in data analysis and energy systems and technologies. At Synapse, she performs technical and policy analyses and performs detailed electric sector modeling. Dr. Horowitz also drafts testimony and reports related to resource planning, grid modernization, and other electric industry issues. She has provided technical assistance and expert commentary to the Puerto Rico Energy Commission on topics including integrated resource planning, revenue requirements, and utility performance issues. Dr. Horowitz has also drafted comments and reports on utility resource plans as well as on policies such as the Clean Power Plan, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, renewable portfolio standards, and others, on behalf of the State of Michigan and a variety of environmental clients.

Before joining Synapse in October 2015, she was involved in modeling the feasibility, cost, and carbon savings associated with significant scale-up of energy storage technologies as a research fellow at the Project Drawdown Coalition. This built on the work she did for her doctoral thesis on the field of energy storage. While pursuing her degree in chemical engineering, Ariel also performed research for the Fletcher School Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, where she analyzed the health and economic impacts of nitrogen pollution.

Dr. Horowitz’s many publications have appeared in Chemical Communications, Angewandte Chemie, Green Chemistry, and the Journal of Materials Chemistry. She holds a PhD in chemical engineering from Tufts University and a BS in engineering from Swarthmore College.

Megan Herzog is a Staff Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation in Massachusetts, where she works in the organization’s Clean Energy & Climate Change and Ocean Conservation programs. She also coordinates CLF’s work to electrify transportation in New England.

Megan joined CLF in 2016 after four years as the Emmett/Frankel Fellow in Environmental Law & Policy at UCLA’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment. She worked with the Emmett Institute on advancing climate change policy, promoting urban sustainability, and other environmental law issues. Prior to that, Megan was a Fellow at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC.

She has published on a range of environmental law topics, including coastal climate change adaptation, pollution control, and greenhouse gas regulation.  Megan is also a part-time Lecturer in the Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.

Megan holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where she served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Journal of Law, Science & Policy.  She earned an M.S. in Environment & Resources from Stanford University and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Mount Holyoke College.

“Making Government Work for You” Workshop Draws Big Crowd

September 18, 2017/Arlington, MA–Nearly 100 people filled the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington to learn some of the finer points of changing laws and public policies from featured speakers Colleen Kirby, criminal-justice legislative specialist for the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the 4th Middlesex (MA) District’s newly elected state senator, Cindy Friedman.

Kirby told a story of how one man’s outrage at seeing birds hunted in a public area prompted his advocacy and eventual success in protecting the birds. The story was an example of steps to take to change policies:

1. Identify the problem and its parts.

2. Join a group, even a small one, to explain the problem to others.

3. Learn about the issue and identify the end result desired.

4. Develop relationships with all interested parties.

5. Form coalitions to more broadly inform others in workshops and forums and via their networks.

6. Be prepared for unexpected changes to public and political priorities.

7. Show public support (through protests, press visibility), so politicians have to respond and act.

Kirby then provided an overview of the usual, complex two-year process by which bills may become laws in Massachusetts, but noted “it’s not working that way this year.” Because 5,000 to 6,000 bills may be filed by the end of January at the beginning of the process, it’s impossible for all legislators to learn about all of them.

In the current cycle, the state Legislature has instead grouped some of the bills to take a more systematic approach to addressing various aspects of interacting issues. Kirby stressed that the best way for advocates to lobby for an issue is to become a resource for your own legislator, educating and informing her or him through your testimony at hearings and in phone calls or personal appointments. Additionally, forming coalitions broadens statewide support for your issue, because people in other legislative districts will know what to say about it to their own legislators.

In her discussion of criminal justice reform, Sen. Friedman applauded the House bill’s antirecidivism measures but explained why the Senate’s more-comprehensive omnibus, or “package,” bill would do even more good. It would: allow for civil violations (rather than criminal charges) for some arrested for possession of drugs; reform the bail process; eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing; limit the use of solitary confinement; permit medical releases for prisoners needing end-of-life care; allow more-flexible rules about fines and fees, so the indigent can actually pay for penalties but avoid additional financial harm; and for juvenile justice, raise the age for “adult” crime.

Sen. Friedman outlined her “personal tips” for how to work effectively with legislators. Phone calls are more effective than e-mails or letters, and calling your own legislators with a clear message very important. Little time exists for legislators to talk with other people who are not their constituents. To reach a legislator from another district, form coalitions, so that constituents from that district can accompany you to lobby their legislator.

In concluding, she recommended patience with our highly effective but imperfect democratic process: “Progress is slow by design. Imagine if all 5,000 bills were enacted one after another like this. There would be chaos.”

Hundreds Attend “Extreme Events and Climate Change” Forum at New England Aquarium

September 14, 2017–A sold-out crowd filled the Aquarium’s Simons IMAX® Theatre for “Extreme Events and Climate Change: What We Know and What We Can Do,” co-hosted by LWVMA and LWV-Boston, the New England Aquarium, and UMass Boston School for the Environment.

Dr. Ellen Douglas of UMass Boston laid out the evidence for the causes of climate change, its impact on sea level rise in Massachusetts, and efforts to overcome the devastating changes in store for the region through mitigation and adaptation.

This event is part of LWVMA’s 2017 Climate and Energy Solutions Series and can be viewed at this link.

The slide presentation may be viewed here.

To see her presentation in person, Dr. Douglas will be speaking at the final forum in the LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series. LWV-Falmouth and LWVMA will co-host “Extreme Events and Climate Change Boston Area and Cape Cod: What We Know and What We Can Do” on November 4 at 1 p.m. at Falmouth Public Library. Speakers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Research Center will provide a local perspective.

Click here for a Falmouth forum flyer.

LWVMA Opposes Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Provisions in Gov. Baker Bill

September 8, 2017–The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts supports efforts to address the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, but we do not support the provisions in Governor Baker’s bill to add to existing mandatory minimum sentencing in the case of a drug sale leading to death.

The Massachusetts Sentencing Commission has been thorough in its examination of the sentencing guidelines in Massachusetts and has found that conventional drug enforcement and treatment of offenders is most effective in reducing drug consumption or drug-related crime. The Commission is currently working on reforming and updating these guidelines. We are concerned that Governor Baker’s provision will increase drug overdose deaths if some people fear reporting an overdose.

During this time of increasing deaths due to opioids, we want to encourage everyone to report overdoses so that the most lives are saved. We applaud Governor Baker’s concern over this crisis, but we fear the mandatory minimum sentencing provision will slow progress.

Carbon pricing gaining advocates and momentum!

Putting a price on carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions and change consumer behavior.

With increasing pressure to address climate change, and carbon pricing bills from both the Massachusetts Senate and House, there is growing momentum in the legislature to pass a carbon pricing bill this session.

Three webinars from the LWVUS Price on Carbon team highlight the importance and value of pricing carbon.

 

League Condemns DACA Policy Reversal

September 5, 2017–The League of Women Voters today condemned the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) program.  Read the full statement from LWV President Chris Carson here:

“This administration’s decision to rescind the ‘Dreamers’ program is shameful and does not serve national interest.

“As a country of immigrants, we are made stronger by our diversity. Yet time and time again, this administration has discriminated against immigrants and communities of color.

“Reversing the DACA policy will have a devastating impact on our economy. Ending this program will increase unemployment.

“Thousands of the Dreamers protected by DACA were brought to this country as babies and have no memories of their birth country. These individuals are paying taxes, contributing to Social Security and Americans, in everything but the name.

“The League of Women Voters is opposed to deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants and we urge congress to pass a clean Dreamers Act to protect, not turn away, the 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children.”