Energy and Environment Report Card from the Environmental League of Massachusetts – Overall – Grade C
This Report Card is designed to evaluate the Baker administration’s environmental and energy commitments and accomplishments. We prepare it annually in an effort to hold the administration accountable for protecting the Commonwealth’s environment, natural resources, and public health and safety.
Citizens of the Commonwealth know Massachusetts is a special place to live, work and do business. We value our coastlines, forests, rivers, wildlife, parks, and natural places and expect clean air and water. Many of us have chosen to live here or stay here because of these special qualities.
However, in 2018, we are, quite simply, worried about how well the places we love are being protected. We are concerned about the quality of our air, water and lands. With retreat in Washington on many critical energy and environmental issues, we look to the Baker administration to take a forceful stand on environmental issues, to protect our public health, to establish strong state policies and to provide sufficient resources to advance them.
In this last year of the Governor’s first term, we remain disappointed that the Commonwealth is lagging in many areas where we should be leading. While there is movement and even leadership in some areas, particularly around climate change and resiliency, much of the environmental agenda and EEA responsibilities are not getting the attention they deserve. From reducing waste to protecting communities of color and the poor from environmental burdens, to sustainably managing our water resources, to maintaining our parks, to protecting the public from toxic substances, to serving as effective public trustees of our waterfronts, our leaders are falling short. We understand that each administration must choose its priorities and not every environmental issue can be at the top of the list. However, after three years in office, there are many issue areas where little to no progress has been made. Much of this lack of progress is due to a lack of funding and staffing at the environmental agencies. Agency staff are stretched extremely thin and only have time to be reactive rather than proactive in addressing the many issues before them.
We see no sense of urgency about the environmental challenges—and opportunities—before us. Overly cautious, incremental approaches that will take years to implement will not get the job done. More ambitious leadership is required.
While we note some new initiatives and improvements, lack of leadership and action on other important fronts means, for the third year in a row, the state gets a C on environmental issues.
The administration has made a number of good policy decisions but also some questionable ones. In almost every decision having to do with the electricity market or utility regulation, it appears that the utilities have had an overly significant influence on the decision. Accommodating the utilities has left both consumers and the environment less protected.
The Governor should lead by saying to these important actors: how can the state help you to shape your business so that we can meet our mandates to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions? In fact, he needs to make it clear that the Commonwealth will be phasing out fossil fuels by 2050 and that we are in a transition to get there in an organized and economically sound way.
And, the Governor cannot continue to insist that he is committed to the environment when the agencies in charge of environmental issues don’t have sufficient staff to meet the state’s basic needs, much less to adopt new policies and programs.
If state spending has outstripped available revenue, then the Governor has an obligation to find the funds or begin the public dialogue about the best ways to raise those funds.
To read the full report visit https://www.environmentalleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/EEA-Report-Card-Year-Three.pdf