Citing SJC ruling, Eversource withdraws natural gas application

Aug. 23, 2016 — From State Representative, Lou Kafka of Sharon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“For many months now my colleagues and I have been working hard to stop the Spectra Pipeline from being built. Representatives John Rogers, Paul McMurtry, and I tried to cut off funding for the project with an amendment to the “Energy Omnibus Bill” which would have prohibited electric and gas companies from charging rate payers for the project. Representative Walter Timilty, with our support, then led the charge with a standalone bill to do the same.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that energy companies can not pass pipeline construction costs on to ratepayers. Our tactic of cutting off the project’s funding was clearly the right way to go, as Eversource announced this morning that it is withdrawing its petition for the pipeline. Congratulations to everyone who worked hard and lent their voices to oppose this project.”

Read the full story from the State House News Service.

Thank you, Lou – and all who have helped to oppose the pipeline!

The pipeline tax is dead!

Gavel and scalesMajor, groundbreaking news!

August 17, 2016  —  Today, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the proposed pipeline tax is illegal.  Electric and gas utilities can not charge their customers to build new gas pipelines!

Read the decision here: http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/sjc/reporter-of-decisions/new-opinions/12051.pdf

From Boston Globe, “SJC rejects Baker’s plan to impose fees for gas pipelines”

From Conservation Law Foundation, “Massachusetts’ Highest Court Rejects Public Subsidies for Fossil Fuels”

New MA Energy Bill Promotes Clean Power

wind turbines offshoreGood news for Massachusetts!

Governor Baker recently signed into law an energy bill to diversify the state’s energy portfolio by requiring utilities to enter into long term contracts to secure offshore wind and hydropower, and authorizing the largest procurement of offshore wind ever in the United States

In addition, the legislation supports efforts to repair natural gas leaks and stop dangerous methane leaks.

The Conservation Law Foundation summarizes the legislation nicely.  “The finished bill represents an important core consensus in the Commonwealth that cannot be denied: Fossil fuel power is a thing of the past, and Massachusetts’ future will be powered by clean energy.”

Hopefully Spectra Energy is paying attention…

Read more…

 

Action Alert: Call for the Energy Bill

The following legislators must reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill ( H4385 and S2400). Please call each one and tell them you want the bill to explicitly ban a surcharge or tax for new gas pipelines, as in the Senate version.

 phoneHonorable Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill), Chairman of House Committee on Ways & Means, 617-722-2990
Honorable Thomas Golden (D-Lowell), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, 617-722-2263
Honorable Bradley Jones (R-North Reading), House Minority Leader, 617-722-2100
Honorable Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield), Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, 617-722-1625
Honorable Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), Senate President Pro Tempore, 617-722-1551
Honorable Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Senate Minority Leader, 617-722-1600

Here’s a handy script, in case you aren’t sure what to say:

Thank you for working to advance comprehensive energy legislation, H4385 and S2400. I am calling to ask you to push for a strong final clean energy bill. Here are my priorities regarding the legislation:

  1. I oppose the “pipeline tax,” and urge you to protect ratepayers and our environment by prohibiting subsidies for new gas pipelines, as the Senate has done.
  2. I support provisions within the House energy bill which would require the repair of all gas leaks during road projects (including “grade 3” or non-hazardous leaks), and support provisions within the Senate energy bill related to collective bargaining for these repairs.
  3. I support procurement of 2000 megawatts of offshore wind. I am pleased both chambers have chosen to support offshore wind, and urge you to go big!
  4. I support decommissioning planning and financing for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.
  5. I support accelerating the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 2%/year to grow local, clean energy.

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Successful March Against the Pipeline

Pipeline marchers at State House
Photo courtesy of Paul Lauenstein.

From July 14-18th, hundreds of Massachusetts residents marched for four days along the route of Spectra’s proposed pipeline project, concluding with a rally at the Massachusetts State House.

Together, we sent an unmistakable message to Governor Baker and our state legislators: if they don’t stop new gas pipelines, the people will!

The march was organized by 350 Massachusetts for a Better Future and supported by UU Mass Action, First Unitarian Church of Sharon, the First Unitarian Church of Franklin, United Church of Walpole, Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Norwood, Theodore Parker Church, Stratford Street United Church, Church on the Hill, No Sharon Gas Pipeline, No Walpole Gas Pipeline, No Canton Gas Pipeline, No Stoughton Gas Pipeline, Fore River Residents Against the Compressor, the UU College of Social Justice, Stop the West Roxbury Lateral, Resist the Pipeline, Black and Pink, the Criminal Justice Police Coalition, Progressive Asset Management, Boston Mobilization, the Massachusetts Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action, Mothers Out Front, Alliance for Climate Education, the Mass Power Forward coalition, Consumers for Sensible Energy, and too many others to name! 

Click here to see photos of the march.

The march earned great coverage from The Boston Globe, The Associated Press, State House News, WBUR, WGBH, Fox 25, and dozens of local outlets. National and statewide media coverage can be found here.

People Over Pipelines Historic March

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.29.51 AM

Medway to Canton
Ultimately on to the State House in Boston!

March Spectra’s proposed gas pipeline to tell Governor Baker & state legislators NO pipeline or pipeline tax.

Walk with us for an hour, a day, or the whole way. Attend a rally & share a meal along the route. We’ll provide housing, meals, vans, & shuttles. If you can’t march, volunteer!

Thursday, 7/14: Medway-Sharon (16 miles). Meet in Medway, Holliston St. near the Middle School. Rally at 10:00 am & march follows.

Or join for a segment:

  • Walpole-Sharon (5.5 miles). Meet 4:45 pm at United Church (30 Common St, Walpole). Refreshments.
  • In Sharon (2 miles): Meet 6:45 pm at Moose Hill Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary (we’ll shuttle you back after the march ends the first leg at the Unitarian Church).
  • Cheer the marchers! 7:30 pm at Unitarian Church in Sharon Center (4 N. Main St.). Bring a dish or a beverage to feed the hungry.*

Friday, 7/15: Sharon-Norwood (12 miles). Meet 9:15 at Unitarian Church in Sharon. Or join for a segment:

  • Help provide breakfast for marchers at 7:30 am*
  • Sharon-Canton (7 miles). Leave 9:15 am from the church.
  • Stop in Stoughton or meet marchers there at 330 Cross Street at 11:50 am for a short rally and snacks before heading on to Canton.
  • Canton-Norwood (5 miles). Meet at the Canton Public Library (786 Washington St, Canton) at 1:30 pm for rally.

For details on the rest of the march & the Monday rally at the State House, go to peopleoverpipelines.org.

For local information, contact Bri McAlevey of StopThePipe.org at (781) 806-0351. To help with food, contact Mia Joiner-Moore at Texanmia@aol.com.

Energy Bill Update

The bill has now gone to the Senate, so please contact your state senator. Thank Senators Timilty and Joyce for their support and let them know we want a pipeline tax ban in the final version! Learn more about the specifics of the bill and find talking points here.

Mass Power Forward Comments on House Bill

On June 8, the House of Representatives debated and voted on a long-awaited energy bill focusing on offshore wind and hydropower.

Mass Power Forward, a statewide coalition of more than 150 environmental, social justice and community groups, businesses, and faith organizations responded by calling on lawmakers to take bolder steps to encourage wind and solar, and stop the construction of new gas pipelines.

As written, the bill requires the state to procure 1200 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2027. While this is an historic commitment — the largest offshore wind bill ever in the U.S. — it falls well short of the 2,000 megawatts identified in a University of Delaware cost study as needed to capture the full economic benefits of the new offshore wind industry and drive down costs by more than half over the next decade. Coalition members called on the legislature to make a bigger commitment to offshore wind, and to double advances in the renewable portfolio standard to accommodate the simultaneous growth of land-based wind.

Coalition members cheered the fact that the bill does not include any explicit support for the “pipeline tax,” which would force ratepayers to subsidize new gas pipelines. But coalition members pressed lawmakers to go further by including an outright ban on electric ratepayer funding of new gas infrastructure as well as stronger policies to repair gas leaks. Coalition members applauded a gas leak amendment, one of the only amendments included in the final bill.

Finally, Mass Power Forward members urged legislators to use the bill as an opportunity to support low-income and community solar. The solar bill that passed in March cut the reimbursement rates for low-income and community solar projects, which are needed to ensure equitable access to solar for all Massachusetts residents.

Bold, visionary leadership by the legislature is needed to achieve the goals outlined in the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.

“Each new version of the bill seems to be an improvement,” said Massachusetts PipeLine Awareness Network Director Katy Eiseman, noting an energy efficiency provision included in the bill approved by the House. “I would like to see a clear prohibition of electric ratepayer financing of gas infrastructure in the final legislation, and other clarifications of the Department of Public Utilities’ mandate, so that the agency focuses more on serving the interests of the public, rather than of the utilities.”

“On to the Senate! I want it all, a ban on gas pipeline taxes, the full 2,000 megawatts for offshore wind, and accessible uncapped solar “ said Claire Miller of Toxics Action Center, “onwards, always onwards.”

“Today’s legislation moves us forward with bipartisan support to repair aging gas infrastructure and advance clean energy,” said Joel Wool, Energy Advocate with Clean Water Action. “The fact that both Republicans and Democrats also sought to push back against ratepayer funding of gas pipelines shows how vulnerable fossil fuel infrastructure is to the overwhelming will of the public to shift our power.”

“We congratulate our lawmakers on their efforts to develop energy legislation that will protect our planet and fulfill our moral obligation to future generations,” said Amy Benjamin, co-chair of the Mass Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action. “This House bill is a start but we need bolder action from the legislature in order to seize this historic opportunity to change the narrative on energy — and to let it begin with Massachusetts!”

Said Craig Altemose, Senior Advisor of 350 Mass for a Better Future:  “We must go even farther. We must double down on offshore wind and send a clear signal that we do not want more fracked gas infrastructure by banning the pipeline tax. Our state and its people deserve no less.”

“Massachusetts’ House leadership had an opportunity to demonstrate responsible leadership today by choosing the path of clean, renewable energy for the people in our Commonwealth.  Steps were taken to address the gas leaks, address offshore wind and the inclusion of a PACE provision is a positive step.  If we want to make a meaningful commitment to preparing for the future, there is much more work we need to do,” said Laura Wagner from Unitarian Universalist MA Action Network.  “We can no longer move at our current pace of change.  It’s time for bold action.”

“This Energy Omnibus bill is a good first step”, said Carol Oldham, Director of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network.“There are many things to like here, including offshore wind and not encouraging gas pipelines with a tariff. But to keep clean energy as the economic engine it has been for MA cities and towns, we hope the senate will go a step further and go bigger on offshore wind and restore community and low income solar incentives.”

The bill has now gone to the Senate, so please contact your state senator and tell them we want a pipeline tax ban in the final version! Use this script and form to log your call.

Thank you all for pushing our state forward on climate!