Climate Change and the Environment

Recent Posts on LWVMA Action on the Environment

The League of Women Voters is committed to promoting an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources.

LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy

In early 2017, LWVMA members Launa Zimmaro and Karen Price formed the LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy. The Steering Committee has 15-20 members from Leagues around the state. The mission of the Steering Committee is to inform and engage members across the state on critical environmental issues and policies impacting Massachusetts, and to support and promote sustainable energy and environmental policy, legislation and local action.

Action at the local and state level is more important than ever! The League can make a difference because of its local League, grassroots structure.

In its first year, Steering Committee members are focusing on educating themselves, League members, and the broader public. Committee members attended the Mass Power Forward Lobby Day on January 25, the Local Environmental Action Conference on March 5, and the Massachusetts Communities and Campuses Conference on March 17.

During 2017, the Committee is coordinating the LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series, providing regional forums around the state. See the next section (below) for details.

The Committee received a grant from Mass Power Forward through the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund to support the work of the Environmental Steering Committee. The grant will support a webinar service, workshop/ conference fees, printed materials, and regional events.

The Steering Committee stands ready to support and advocate for legislation to benefit the environment and reduce carbon emissions at the state and local levels.

LWVMA 2017 Climate and Energy Solutions Series

LWVUS Price on Carbon Webinars

Supported Legislation 2017-2018

The League of Women Voters has been at the forefront of the environmental protection movement for decades, consistently supporting legislation to preserve our nation’s natural resources and protect our public health. We support legislation that seeks to protect our country from the physical, economic and public health effects of climate change while also providing pathways to economic prosperity.

LWVMA supports and opposes legislation after reviewing the bills  filed each 2-year session. For information on the LWVMA supported state legislation related to the environment, including energy and resource conservation, natural resources, and water resources, click here.

For information on efforts at the national level, coordinated by LWVUS, click here.

Putting a Price on Carbon: Reducing Emissions Through the Market Place

environment for websiteAs 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 and support the transition to clean, renewable sources of energy.  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 emitters) is a form of market-based environmental reform and is considered one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of reducing emissions.

Revenues raised through social-cost pricing of fossil-fuel based energy can be designed as largely or completely “revenue neutral” to offset higher fuel costs for businesses and individuals. Funds can also be reinvested in the economy to promote industry and job growth in the renewable energy sector. LWV supports carbon pricing through fee and rebate approaches that are revenue neutral or revenue positive and cap and trade systems as long as low- and middle-income households receive rebates or tax cuts to protect them from financial impacts and protections are put in place for vulnerable businesses.

LWVMA is a member of the Massachusetts Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, a growing coalition of environmental, business, faith and civic organizations dedicated to passing carbon pricing legislation and policies that assure Massachusetts continues its national clean energy leadership.

In the 2017-2018 legislative session LWVMA supports carbon pricing legislation introduced by Senator Michael Barrett (S1821) and by Representative Jennifer Benson (H1726). Fact Sheets on each have been prepared by the coalition.

S1821, An Act Combating Climate Change*

Sponsored by Senator Mike Barrett

100% of the revenue would be returned to households, businesses, and institutions. For the CO2 charges paid by people, each state resident would receive an equal share of the total money collected. For charges paid by businesses and other institutions, each would get a rebate in proportion to its share of total employment in Massachusetts. Additional rebates would be provided to households in rural areas and to businesses that are energy-intensive and face stiff out-of-state competition. The fee would start out at $10 per ton of CO2, rising $5 a year until reaching $40 a ton.

H1726, An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, and Create Jobs*

Sponsored by Representative Jennifer Benson

80% of the revenue would be returned via rebates to households and employers, while 20% would be used to fund green infrastructure investments in transportation, clean energy, and protection against the impacts of climate change. By rebating a high proportion of the funds through a progressive formula, the bill would ensure that low- and moderate-income households do not come out behind. Because the bill rebates funds to employers based on their number of employees, most business sectors would come out ahead or about even, and there would be a net gain to employment in the state. The fee would begin at $20 per ton of CO2, and rise $5 a year until it hits $40 per ton, the same as in S1821.

*Source http://climate-xchange.org/massachusetts-campaign/about-the-bill/

In the prior session LWVMA gave testimony on carbon pricing legislation introduced by Senator Barrett: S1747, An Act Combatting Climate Change.

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. California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia signed an accord in 2013 to coordinate their carbon emissions pricing systems where possible, opening the door to regional agreements. State level carbon pricing legislation is gaining momentum, with New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington joining Massachusetts to introduce carbon pricing legislation. Interest in carbon pricing is growing across North America. Canada is requiring all provinces to implement carbon pricing by 2018. Mexico is adding cap and trade to its carbon pricing system. For a comprehensive description of carbon pricing approaches and implementation efforts, click here.

How you can help

Talking points: Why LWVMA supports strong carbon pricing legislation

The threat from global warming: Climate change – also called climate disruption – is the greatest environmental threat facing the planet. Its impact has already begun to effect locations around the world, including the United States through rising sea level, worsening drought and flood conditions, more intense “super” storms, and accelerated relocation and extinction and relocation of many species..

Goal: cut climate pollution. Massachusetts state law requires that we cut greenhouse gas emissions (primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane) to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and to at least 80% below 1990 by 2050. This will require a dramatic shift from fossil fuels to clean energy such as solar and wind, as well as heightened efforts to improve energy efficiency in existing and new structures and systems.

How: add a carbon pollution charge to fossil fuel prices. Most economists, from conservative to liberal, agree that the most cost-effective way to cut carbon pollution is to add a charge that raises the prices of fossil fuels such as natural gas and gasoline (electricity generation would be exempt, because it is already covered by other programs). This would give energy producers and consumers a strong incentive to shift to clean energy – while having the freedom to decide how to do so.

Where would the revenue go? Carbon pricing could be revenue neutral, with all funds returned to residents, businesses and institutions, or carbon positive with most revenue returned to those who pay the fee, but some dedicated to boosting energy efficiency and clean energy adoption. Any approach considered must ensure that living standards and competitiveness are protected.

IMPACTS

Pollution will fall: the CO2 and methane pollution that causes climate disruption would be cut by more than any single regulatory policy that the state operates now or is considering.

Households and businesses will be protected: modeling shows that we could give back to low- and moderate-income households at least as much money as they would pay in higher costs for fossil fuels. After getting rebates, almost all businesses would face quite small changes in their net costs, positive in some cases, negative in others.

Employment will rise: mainly because the carbon pricing  will shift billions of dollars currently spent to going out of state to import fossil fuels to spurring  the growth of in-state businesses, and jobs in the innovation, energy efficiency and clean energy industry, keeping those dollars in MA

The economy will benefit: there would be little overall impact on the state economy, with small gains in important measures such as average personal income and Gross State Product.

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).