Effort pushing President and Congress to go bigger is back backed by cross-movement coalition and nationwide grassroots campaign
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Members of Congress backed by a cross-movement nationwide grassroots organizing effort announced the formal introduction of the THRIVE Act in Congress today.
The THRIVE (Transform, Heal, Renew, and Invest in a Vibrant Economy) Act is a $10 trillion package that will create and sustain 15 million good, union jobs in sectors ranging from clean energy to care work to manufacturing. It will cut climate pollution in half by 2030, provide care to those in need, advance racial, gender, Indigenous, economic, and environmental justice, and end mass unemployment in the process. The THRIVE Act is based on the THRIVE Agenda—an economic renewal proposal crafted and supported by a broad, multiracial, cross-movement coalition of organizations. THRIVE is an economic recovery plan commensurate with the unprecedented need posed by the historic crises the United States faces.
Over the March-April congressional recess, activists organized more than 250 “Recovery Recess” grassroots events in support of the THRIVE Act, and over the last week constituents have made more than 20,000 phone calls to Congress supporting the Act.
Watch the April 29 news conference about the Act’s introduction:
Find the bill text and more information about the Act:
Connect with a spokesperson for an interview or get more information:
The Green New Deal Network is a 50-state campaign with a national coordinating table of 15 organizations: Center for Popular Democracy, Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, Indivisible, Movement for Black Lives, MoveOn, People’s Action, Right To The City Alliance, Service Employees International Union, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, US Climate Action Network, and the Working Families Party.
They say patience gives way to remarkable results. After years of work, I was pleased to watch Governor Baker sign the Next-Generation Roadmap, into law this last Friday—enacting a bill that, as House Speaker Mariano put, “has more miles than my car" citing the four times it went back and forth with the governor and the legislature. There are so many good aspects to this bill, and although every amendment that we asked for back in July 2020 (remember that?) didn’t get accepted, it is still better than we expected.
The highlights of the bill include long-overdue updates to environmental justice policy, which in the past had been created only through executive order in the Patrick Administration. Now agencies will be required to account for the amount of pollution from a proposed project and how much that further adds to present-day pollution. Additionally, EJ communities will now be allowed to participate in decisions being made about their community (can you believe that wasn’t the case before?). This law will also establish an environmental justice advisory board. As someone who grew up in what is now considered an EJ community, these are measurable wins.
The NextGeneration Roadmap also delivers a significant increase in offshore wind power with an additional 2,400 megawatts, therefore raising the total procurement level to 5,600 megawatts for the state. Furthermore, by 2025, utilities like Eversource and National Grid must increase their Renewable Energy Portfolio by at least 3% every year. DPU is being reined in as well, as they must add reducing greenhouse gas emissions to their mission statement as well as security and safety measures, which is incredibly important since the Columbia Gas explosion of 2018 took the life of a young man in the Merrimack Valley.
I remember many conversations with Senator Barrett over the session where he talked about DPU and his amazement that they weren’t being held accountable in offering up clean energy and safety measures. Now, he’s made it law.
Additionally, the law empowers MassSave to go beyond the light bulbs and window installations (which are meaningful but insufficient) and further offer up lower emission pathways for attaining heating and cooling. It provides much stronger energy efficiency standards, bringing us up to par with California. It also includes a specialized stretch code that cities and towns can adopt in 18 months, and requires ALL 40 Municipal Light Plants to purchase 50% of their power from “non-carbon emitting” sources by 2030, getting to net-zero emissions by 2050, much like what the state has promised to do in this law, setting its own benchmarks at 50% by 2030, 75% by 2040 and net-zero by 2050. Reaching those goals is no small feat, and the law requires Mass CEC to spend $12 million more each year on clean energy workforce development and job training. I find that part to be really exciting, as the mother of the teenage boy—I know that there is an exciting workforce awaiting him should he choose to go that route.
Speaking of my teenage boy who will soon be driving, I would love nothing more than to provide an EV as his first car. Currently, the expense of that is out of reach for me, but this law hopes to change that, first tackling the issue of inadequate charging stations, leading to more incentive programs (rebates) further dealing with the transportation sector’s contribution to climate change.
One might ask, where are the bands on gas infrastructure? Where are the mandates to electrifying the entire system by 2030? Where is the band on wood-burning as fuel? Protection of forests?
Those are vital questions, as they are not included in this new law. As I always describe it, this law is the runway, not the plane. The plane will be built during this legislative session through the bills that have been filed. Notably, the number of climate bills that have been filed this session has increased astronomically compared to past years.
Clearly, our legislature is serious about tackling the climate crisis, and for the first time since 2010, we have a federal government that wants to play ball. It is an exciting time to be a climate activist; with the new coalition, Mass Renews Alliance filing bills like the Food Justice with Jobs Act and Building Justice with Jobs Act. Finally, a sustainable future is possible through this legislative cycle, and it is more important than ever that coalitions harmonize through the solutions that deliver an economic boom with job protections, continuing to prioritizing EJ communities, and healthier living standards for all people of the commonwealth.
I have never felt more invigorated to get to work, and if you haven’t caught the activist bug yet—it’s never too late.
Back in the late 1800s, Texas made the bold decision to become electric and power independent. The idea for energy independence started in World War II because of the demand for more power. Additionally, the market triggered the passage of the Federal Power Act a law regulating electrical power in 1935 across the United States.
Subsequently, Texas utilities never allowed power outside of the state to avoid federal regulation and make their own rules for how power is distributed and who benefits from the profits. The trouble with this type of self-reliance is that it is also a catalyst for zero responsibility when something goes wrong, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot, which operates the state’s power grid, was no exception.
Last month, a historic cold snap, the coldest February in more than thirty years, blanked Texas in snow and ice, having catastrophic consequences for millions in the lone star state. Consequences that in the 21st century were completely avoidable. As New Englanders, it’s unthinkable to imagine a cold-weather event could shut down a massive part of the state for any length of time, but for Texas, that’s exactly what happened.
In 2011, many states began to experience extreme weather conditions and Texas made the top of that list. Federal Regulators alerted ERCOT that’s its grid was weak and made several recommendations, but ERCOT never acted on them.
As a result, the storm that paralyzed parts of Texas last month left millions without water and heat- further prompting some to burn their belongings for warmth. Those that didn’t lose power, without warning, were hit with astronomical heating bills.
These egregious practices are not sustainable. Climate change and our lack of aggressive policies to mitigate the negative effects have left us all vulnerable, Texas being the extreme example. Governor Rick Scott of Texas erroneously stated that because the wind turbines froze during the storm, his citizens were left in the cold. Nothing could be further from the truth, as wind only generates 20% of the electricity in Texas. Texas mainly relies on natural gas to power the state, and experts say the natural gas infrastructure was unprepared for the frigid temperatures brought by the February storm.
Representatives need not deflect when a crisis happens but instead publicly state the facts to make certain they never happen again. Enforcing renewable energy and energy efficiency is the most responsible way towards a future that is undoubtedly poised to be extreme in every sense of the word.
The possibilities for renewable energy and energy savings are endless and it’s high time these solutions got the positive recognition they deserve. Renewable technologies like wind, geothermal, solar, and hydropower have been ready for use for years. Surrendering to the climate crisis at a time when the market is ready to implement solutions is equivalent to completely lifting COVID restrictions just when the vaccine rollout gets underway. It’s ludicrous and dangerous and yet, Governor Scott is once again, behind this negligent move.
Furthermore, the idea that regulations are counterproductive to prosperity is a baseless claim. It’s a necessary and responsible way of doing business and the only way forward. The disaster in Texas is a lesson for us all.
To hear more commentary regarding Texas and other environmental issues, listen to Cabell Eames, Legislative Manager on Callie Crossley’s Environmental Roundtable on Under the Radar.