We are disappointed and angered to see Governor Baker pocket veto such an overwhelmingly popular climate bill. It is unconscionable that anyone in a leadership position would punt on climate mitigation policy in the face of record-smashing heat waves and droughts here in the Commonwealth, but we are not surprised. Baker has repeatedly demonstrated his disregard for environmental science and the reality of climate change. His administration had to be court-ordered to enforce the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act’s goals. Baker pushed forward with the compressor station in Weymouth despite widespread condemnation by community residents, activists, and nearly every Massachusetts Federal representative. It is also widely known that Baker has personal assets invested in the fossil fuel industry. The climate-conscious community knows that Baker is no ally.
With this veto, Baker has proven that he is not a leader to anyone but wealthy special interest groups. Our future is in renewable energy and efficient construction and Massachusetts is falling behind. We are squandering our ability to be a leader in the new, sustainable economy. It is not overly cynical to wonder whether Baker’s personal investments and ties to the fossil fuel and real estate industries are influential in his decision to continue to make the wrong choices for Massachusetts. We have not come to expect much from a Governor who has repeatedly failed to condemn white supremacy and grossly mishandled the ongoing COVID crisis, but we hoped that Baker would not stand in the way of this package of climate solutions that help address his own stated climate goals.
According to the multiple scientists and experts that produced the 2018 UN IPCC report, we are in the last decade where we still have the chance to avert a major climate catastrophe. We need leaders who will listen to the urgency of science over the real estate lobbyists and special interest groups.
We are in complete agreement with Baker that Massachusetts needs more affordable housing. However, Baker’s parroting of the real estate special interests’ claims that the Next-Gen Climate bill would halt all construction in Massachusetts is outlandish and disingenuous. It is far more expensive to heat homes with oil than electric heat pumps. As we have seen with the Merrimack Valley Explosion, gas is not only dangerous to communities, it is a silent public health threat. Continuing to heat homes with prehistoric options is not only reckless, it completely ignores the health and cost benefits from renewable energy. These special interests do not represent the many building industry workers who would find their opportunities strengthened by a bill updating our building standards.
We strongly agree with our Environmental Justice partners that the vetoing of this bill once again demonstrates a disregard for BIPOC, immigrant, and low-income communities. Climate change is already here, and it is drastically disproportionately affecting non-white and low-income communities.
The Massachusetts community is overwhelmingly in favor of taking bold climate action. This past election cycle, Massachusetts voted to send key sponsor of the Green New Deal Ed Markey back to the Senate, and in the 19 districts where the ballot question appeared, an average of 77% of residents supported committing Massachusetts to 100% renewable energy— a goal that stretches even further than the current bill. The Next-Gen Roadmap was passed by a vote of 145 to 9 in the House, and 38 to 2 in the Senate.
We applaud House Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka’s commitment to passing the Next-Generation Roadmap bill, and look forward to leadership utilizing their veto-proof majorities to ensure we do not surrender an inch to Baker’s backward complaints.