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Massachusetts Governor Unveils State Climate Action Plan

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment

Massachusetts has a ver populated coastline which also happens to be at risk for both flooding and sea level rise. In fact, the state has been hit by five major storms since 2010, including Hurricane Sandy. Some in Massachusetts are calling the damage done to coastal New Jersey and parts of New York City by Hurricane Sandy a "preview of what Massachusetts will face sometime in the future," reports the newspaper The Lowell Sun.

Massachusetts is also a state that is preparing for the damage climate change can cause. On Jan. 14, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced a $50 million investment for a statewide climate change plan.

The climate change plan will both assess and address the state’s vulnerabilities when it comes to public health, transportation, energy and the built environment. Part of the plan is a $40 million municipal resilience grant program which the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will administer. It will allow cities and towns to improve energy services at critical sites using clean energy technology.

The grants will be funded through alternative compliance payments (ACP), paid by electric retail suppliers if they lack renewable or alternative energy certificates to meet their compliance obligations under the state's Renewable and Alternative Portfolio Standard programs. The remaining $10 million will be invested in coastal infrastructure and dam repair, including $1 million in municipal grants from the Office of Coastal Zone Management. In addition to the $50 million investment, the governor will "seek $2 million in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to accomplish the remaining interagency efforts," according to a statement.

Here are some of the details for how the $50 million will be invested to prepare Massachusetts for the damage done by climate change:

  • The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will create an inventory of the vulnerabilities and preparedness plans of electricity generation facilities, and the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) will work with utilities to find ways to deploy micro-grids and resiliency projects for transmission and distribution.

  • The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will conduct a statewide vulnerability assessment for all facilities and adopt climate adaptation plans by 2015.

  • The MassDot secretary will create an internal working group which will advise on the next steps and work with stakeholders.

  • The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) owns and operates some historic parkways and roadways that are vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise. Under the plan, the DCR will conduct an assessment to figure out just how vulnerable its parkways and roadways are to flooding and sea level rise.

  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) planners will be required to advise on hazards and resiliency in order to decrease long-term risk. MEMA will also be required to share hazard data to be used in building assessments.

Clearly, Gov. Patrick takes climate change seriously. In 2008, the governor signed the Global Warming Solutions Act into law, which targets a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 and at least an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Last year, he announced the state’s Accelerated Energy Program, which has the goal of reducing energy use by 20 to 25 percent over 700 state sites.

Image credit: Jeff Cutler

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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