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Rep. Dykema meets with local environmental advocacy group

by Ben Kaplan
July 19, 2017

Representative Carolyn Dykema met with members of the Holliston Green Working Group earlier last week for an open forum in the Gilman Room of the public library to discuss legislation and outreach in regards to Massachusetts’ renewable energy goals.

Representative Carolyn Dykema met with members of the Holliston Green Working Group earlier last week for an open forum in the Gilman Room of the public library to discuss legislation and outreach in regards to Massachusetts’ renewable energy goals.

The Green Working Group is an environmentally-concentrated activist group developed from Holliston residents Utah Nickel and Jason Dionne’s concern of the growing climate issues the country faces and their interest in joining the local political environment. The group works with the Holliston Democratic Town Committee but is also looking to branch out to other communities.

Attendees began by going around the room and sharing why they had come and why protecting the environment was important to them. Many were provoked by the current political climate as a call to action while others simply found it a matter of necessity for all, regardless of political affiliation.

“I don’t want to leave my children alone with this problem,” said Dawn Hammond. “Things are going to get a lot harder, and how hard they get is dependent on what we do.”

“I’ve been concerned about this issue,” said Joan Hunter-Brody. “I don’t see enough attention. It is growing, but it is nowhere near the level of your regular newsfeed.”

The group specifically wanted to discuss three bills that they said would improve upon standards set by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, an act that mandated Massachusetts reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 2020 and 80% in 2050. Nickel, said in an email that while the state is currently close to meeting that first goal, larger efforts would need to be taken to address the need for reduction.

The group discussed the following bills:

  • House.3395/Senate.1849: A bill created by Reps. Marjorie Decker, James Eldridge, and Sean Garballey that would set a goal of 100% clean electricity generation by 2035 and economy-wide clean energy use by 2050 by increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (the percentage of electricity created by energy provider that must come from clean energy). 

  • House.2700: A bill created by Rep. Kay Khan that, similarly to the above bill, would increase the RPS. The current RPS is set at 12% with an annual 1% increase. The bill would change this to a progressive increase of around 2%. This bill would also call for the inclusion of town electrical services, or Municipal Light Plants, in the RPS framework. Currently these services are not required to provide clean energy.

  • House.1726: A bill created by Rep. Jennifer Benson that would “put a price on carbon” by taxing fossil fuels. 80% of the funds generated by the tax would be returned to residents through equal fixed sum payments. The remaining 20% would go towards a Green Infrastructure fund. 

Nickel said that these bills would not only further promote moving away from fossil fuels, but they would also put Massachusetts on the map as a hub for the production and distribution of clean energy and save the Commonwealth a significant amount of money. According to a report by the Energy Efficiency Council, Massachusetts spends close to $18 billion a year on energy, with a majority going to out of state providers.

Earlier in July, Dykema met with members of the Sierra Club from all across the district to discuss these bills. Rep. Dykema has been a strong advocate for the environment at the State House, specifically for the solar energy movement. This term she was elected as a member of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications and has co-sponsored Senate bill 1821, which is similar to House 1726. Dykema said to the forum that despite a current national trend of downplaying the dangers of climate change, progress is still being made at the state level.

“I think the silver lining about what is going on at the federal level is Massachusetts,” said Dykema. “And if you look at what we’re doing here, we’re in a state where even our Republican Governor acknowledges that climate change is a real thing and has very real impacts. If you look at our seaport district, the investments that have gone into that area, the economic prosperity generated by that area, and the vulnerability of all those businesses because of rising sea levels are immediate, very practical, and easy to understand why they are important.”

A large focus of the conversation was centered around what people can do to help. Dykema insisted that local outreach and clear communication are both key factors. She said that community advocacy is particularly essential to fighting misinformation and actually making people aware of things that can affect them more than they might think.

“The message that I am hoping to leave with this group is that if we want to move things more quickly, there has to be more grassroots education and engagement,” said Dykema.

Dykema also said that it is necessary to go beyond one’s political bubble and talk to those outside of their sphere of influence because understanding the other side of an issue is key to finding a solution that works for everyone, emphasizing that it is the people in the middle that really make a difference.

“Looking at my campaign experience, I really think these conversations need to be happening at home, not just in government alone,” said Dykema. “These conversations need to happen at cocktail parties, they have to happen with neighbors that may not have the same political ideology as you, and we have to approach these people with an open mind to try and understand what their concerns are.

 

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