ECA Massachusetts Newsletter

Summer 2020
IT FINALLY HAPPENED!
MAJOR CLIMATE BILL PASSED BY MASSACHUSETTS HOUSE!


On Wednesday, July 29, with only three days left before the scheduled end of the legislative session, the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee favorably reported out “An Act creating a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth,” the top legislative priority for ECA Massachusetts! Then, after reviewing more than 100 proposed amendments, the full House finally voted on the bill at 9:30 PM on Friday, July 31, and it passed 142 to 17!

Scroll down for more details (just below Save the Date) about those momentous three days leading to the the House vote.

The final house climate package bill includes changes and additions to the original 2050 Roadmap bill but maintains key elements:
  • A statewide emissions limit of net zero by 2050.
  • Aggressive interim emissions limits for 2030 and 2040.
  • A people-centered plan to reach our climate goal. 
The bill also contains several new provisions focused on ensuring equity for Environmental Justice (EJ) communities and low-income households and to enable "grid modernization" to prepare for the increased contribution of renewables and the increased demand from "electrification." 
 
The bill is now H.4933. The next step is to reconcile it with the Senate’s net zero bill (S.2500, the Next-Generation Climate Policy) in conference before the final bill emerges. So, there is more work to be done, but as soon as we learn more about the conference committee makeup and timeline, we will let you know. This is a huge accomplishment, and we are proud of the advocacy of ECA Massachusetts members throughout this extraordinary legislative session! 

 

This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of ECA Massachusetts

We've been very busy since our last newsletter at the beginning of June - and much has happened in the past two months - so we have LOTS of news! If you don't have time to read this long Summer newsletter straight through now, we hope you'll scroll down to check out a few articles, and then go to the newsletter page at our website later to catch up on the rest and other newsletters you may have missed. 

In This Issue
  • It Finally Happened!
  • Save the Date, including 8/11 talk by Frances Moore Lappé
  • Last 3 days of July: How MA House Passed Roadmap Bill
  • Elders Stand for Fair Elections - Volunteer!
  • ECA MA Updates - Virtual rally, Chapter meetings, Deep Dialogues, and more!
Elders Climate Action on the web

Elders Climate Action Massachusetts is a chapter of the national ECA. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate.
 
Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. 
Join ECA Massachusetts and Stay Connected! 

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements.Fill out our subscription form.
      
Tuesday, August 11, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM EDT (starts promptly at noon)
Zoom, https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89313211335  


ECA Massachusetts Chapter Meeting. This month we have the privilege of hosting Frances Moore Lappé. Her first book, "Diet for a Small Planet", gained world-wide attention 50 years ago. Since then she has written nearly 20 books, the most recent of which is "Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want", with Adam Eichen. She is about to publish "It’s Not Too Late: Crisis, Opportunity, and the Power of Hope." She and her daughter Anna founded and lead the organization Small Planet Institute, based in Cambridge. Please join us! 

Thursday, August 13, 1:00 PM EDT
Register on Chelmsford Library's events calendar for Zoom link.

           Climate Conversations, monthly program sponsored by Chelmsford Climate Action Team and ECA Massachusetts. This month Dianne Sterrett-Steimel of Chelmsford TeleMedia will show her documentary ,”Troubled Waters: Fighting Pollution in the Merrimack River.” Or watch the film here: https://www.chelmsfordtv.org/episode/troubled-waters-fighting-pollution-merrimack-river  

Most Mondays, 4 - 5:30 PM EDT, Zoom
             Deep Dialogue, our thought-provoking ECA Massachusetts conversation series, meets most Mondays, except the week of an ECA Massachusetts chapter meeting. Topics to be announced. 

Wednesday, September 2, 3:00 PM EDT, Zoom

             Elders Stand for Fair Elections, Town Hall. Campaign for safe and fair 2020 elections, by ECA and Elders Action Network. (See article below for more details.)

Stay current! Check the ECA Massachusetts website event calendar and Facebook page. To get all our Action Alerts and meeting announcements, email Dawn Edell, dawnedell1017@gmail.com, and ask her to move you from the “Newsletter Subscriber only” list and put you on our ECA Massachusetts “Activist” list.
 

 
Last Three Days of July:
How Massachusetts House Passed the Roadmap Bill 
 

By Allan Fierce, ECA Massachusetts Member
 
Heading into the last week of July, there was much uncertainty and concern about what would happen in the Massachusetts House with Rep. Joan Meschino’s 2050 Roadmap Bill (H.3983). The bill was ECA Massachusetts' top legislative priority, the focus of our lobbying and advocacy in 2019 and 2020. But with only a single week left in the legislative session this year, there just did not appear to be time for the House Ways and Means Committee (House W&M) to report the Roadmap Bill to the full House, the House to approve it, and a House-Senate Conference Committee to agree upon a single version of their competing climate bills. Many climate activists were urging legislators to extend their session beyond July 31, but House and Senate leadership appeared reluctant to do this, even though many important bills were awaiting final action. Early in the week, anxiety continued to build among ECA Massachusetts and our climate allies.

Then suddenly it happened! On Wednesday, July 29, at midday, a 16-page composite climate bill (H.4912) emerged from House W&M and was sent to the full House with a recommendation that it be passed. 
 
We later learned that this House W&M bill actually had been put together by Rep. Thomas A. Golden, Jr, who is not on House W&M but is trusted by House leadership to have the most expertise on state climate legislation. It is not clear how this unusual special assignment came about or whether other legislators also played a role in drafting the bill. 
 
All ECA members should be elated, however, because the initial five pages of this composite bill contained the original Roadmap Bill’s essential provisions (although the key action deadlines all were extended by one year). The other parts of this composite bill, if enacted, would create a number of new climate-related programs. But despite being a composite bill, it is titled “An Act creating a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving commonwealth” – the same title as Rep. Meschino’s Roadmap bill. It is now being commonly referred to as the “House Roadmap bill.”
 
But there was no time to celebrate this development. When the bill was released at midday on Wednesday, House members were given until only 5 pm that day to file any proposed amendments. A mad scramble ensued, as ECA Massachusetts members and other climate activists frantically called, emailed, and texted their Reps all afternoon, seeking sponsors for amendments they were backing. By 5 pm a total of 106 proposed amendments had been filed. Among the proposed amendments that ECA Massachusetts supported was one that restored the key action deadlines in the Meschino bill. Another amendment, No. 52, contained the language of the Environmental Justice (EJ) bill supported by ECA and many other climate activists.
 
At midday on Thursday, the full House convened for the purpose of considering the Roadmap bill and the 106 proposed amendments. (While this House session happened at the House chambers in the State House, with a member of House leadership at the podium, only a few legislators were present. Most House members attended virtually.)  Rep. Golden spoke first (in person) to introduce the bill, describing its contents and thanking many members and staff who had played key roles in the bill’s development. He gave particular thanks to Rep. Meschino for all she had done to promote the Roadmap bill. Next to speak (in person) was Rep. Meschino herself, who gave a special thanks to Speaker Robert DeLeo for supporting the bill.
 
Thereafter, the House proceeded all that afternoon and evening, and all Friday afternoon and evening, to address the proposed amendments. They did this, however, in a manner that is effectively opaque to the public. While the public was able to view a live video stream of the nearly-empty House chambers, all the real action took place behind the scene, possibly in Speaker DeLeo’s office. The person at the podium simply waited for long stretches for instructions from that inner sanctum. From time to time, there would be an announcement that a handful of specific amendments had been “withdrawn.” How those withdrawals came about was never made clear. But also from time to time, the person at the podium would announce a vote on an amendment that apparently had been cleared for passage by those in the back room. That vote occurred, not with a roll call of the members, but in a manner of seconds when the Rep. at the podium asked for the ayes and nays and then immediately announced that “the ayes have it” and pounded his gavel.
 
Sadly, the amendment that would have restored the key deadlines in the Meschino bill was unceremoniously “withdrawn.” We have no idea why Rep. Golden and House leadership wanted to extend these deadlines by a full year, which ECA considers a totally unnecessary extension and one the climate can ill afford.
 
The final amendment to be dealt with late on Friday was the EJ amendment, which sought to add the EJ bill to the House Roadmap bill. But it was clear that it had been approved in advance by the inner sanctum, because, for this amendment, Speaker DeLeo himself emerged to take over at the podium, and there were half a dozen speakers who came to the podium to thank the Speaker and others for their support for this long-needed bill. Some, including, including Reps. Adrian Madaro and Michelle M. Dubois, spoke movingly about their own families being impacted by air and water pollution while they were growing up. Following these endorsements, the amendment was allowed a real roll call vote of all the members, and it was adopted 158-0! This is great news.
 
Moments later, as the clock approached 9:30 pm, the entire House Roadmap bill as amended was given a full roll call vote, and it passed with a vote of 142-17!
 
The other key development that occurred late in the week is that the House and Senate agreed to extend the legislative session until the end of the year. This means that there is now time for a Conference Committee of the House and Senate to attempt to reconcile the Senate’s Next-Gen climate bill with the House’s composite Roadmap bill.  ECA will attempt to monitor these developments closely to ensure that the 2050 Roadmap bill is included in any compromise bill recommended by the Conference Committee. However, Conference Committees do not meet publicly, so monitoring their work is not easy. And when a Conference Committee does release a bill, it is not subject to amendment. Approval requires an affirmative vote by both chambers.
 
Stay tuned. The saga of the 2050 Roadmap bill continues.

For more information about the bill as passed by the House and incorporating the adopted amendments (which is now H.4933), see this overview, by ECA Massachusetts' Arnie Epstein. (You can also access the overview from the featured post about the Roadmap bill on the home page at the ECA Massachusetts website.) 
 
 
 


Volunteers Needed! What You Can Do Right Now
By Paul Dryfoos
ECA Massachusetts Leadership Team and ESFE National Campaign Co-Leader

As you already know if you've been reading our ECA Massachusetts newsletters, Elders Climate Action is working with the Elders Action Network on Elders Stand for Fair Elections (ESFE). The ESFE campaign started in April 2020 with the mission of ensuring that every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote safely and be assured that their vote will be accurately counted. We believe that a safe and fair 2020 election is essential to everything we care about. So ESFE is staying focused on advocating for voting rights as our top priority for the next 14 weeks or as long as it takes to count all the votes. 

ESFE is a volunteer-powered campaign, so we encourage you to become part of the amazing team of volunteers! ESFE has formed partnerships for action in key states, including Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and state and national teams are developing several types of campaign action:
  • Identifying all of the senior housing and long-term care administrators in a state and reaching out to them to assure that they provide accurate voting info and assistance to people in their care. (Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona)
  • Working with community-based organizations to help new voters in under-represented communities register and obtain ballots.(Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania)
  • Developing a network of faith-based organizations committed to overcoming voter suppression. (Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania)
  • Organizing advocacy calls to secretaries of state to provide free postage on mail-in ballots and other voting access measures.(New Hampshire)
  • Phone banks, text banks and post card campaigns to notify voters about changes in vote by mail rules. (Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia)
Whether you have an hour to spare or are able to make a more extensive time commitment, the stakes are high, and we need your help. Note: residence in the target state is not required! Some of our best organizers cross state lines. It's all virtual now!

We plan to use the month of August to scale up our actions so that we are ready for a pre-election push starting in September. ESFE will hold a Town Hall via Zoom on September 2 at 3pm ET, Noon PT, to gather a community of activists for the final push. Please save the date!

Here's how you can get started NOW as an ESFE volunteer
  • Send the ESFE organizing team a note at fairelections@eldersaction.net.
  • Fill out our volunteer contact form here to let us know about your skills and interests.
  • Participate in a Stand for Fair Elections phone bank. We have already contacted more than 250,000 potential voters in 12 states this year. We need to double that before Election Day. We will train you and set you up with calling lists, automatic dialer app, and motivational scripts. You can register here or email us at fairelections@eldersaction.org.


ECA Massachusetts Chapter Activities and Updates

Despite the ongoing pandemic, ECA Massachusetts has been a very busy "virtual" community of climate activists these past two months! Our major effort was intensive advocacy for our top legislative priority, the House 2050 Roadmap bill. We phoned, emailed and tweeted our representatives, attended virtual meetings, planned strategy with climate allies, and organized a large virtual rally on July 15 in support of the Roadmap and Environmental Justice bills (see Zoom screenshot above showing some of the more than 260 rally participants, and details about the rally below). And all that work culminated in passage by the House of the climate bill on July 31! (See articles above.) In addition to legislative advocacy, we gathered (virtually, of course) for monthly chapter meetings, "Deep Dialogue" discussions, and other team work.

Here is a sampling of our recent activities. We hope you'll join us in the future as we continue our climate advocacy and educational activities!

June 9 - Monthly Chapter Meeting

June's topic Working Together on Climate Change, with Lessons from a Pandemic and Racial Injusticewas led by Rick Lent and others on our Presentation Team. Acknowledging the broader societal context within which we work toward climate action, we explored what we could learn from these interwoven crises. We also previewed one of ECA's basic illustrated presentations for engaging with groups, "What Can One Person Do About Climate Change?" 

June 15 - Deep Dialogue

Nineteen people gathered on Zoom with ECA Massachusetts member Karen McDonald, an educational psychologist, for a fascinating discussion about Communicating the Climate Crisis More Effectively. Karen spoke to us about framing and reframing important ideas in discussions, especially with people who may not share our concerns, in order to better connect with and motivate people using their values and interests. She evoked an illustration of Elephant and Rider several times. As Karen explained, past experiences and beliefs about what is good or, on the other hand, dangerous to us, automatically evoke visceral and emotional responses - from the fast-responding and powerful "Elephant" (which includes the amygdala with its fight-or-flight response). When the more rational "Rider" (which includes newer parts of the brain) kicks in, we may expect it to be logical, but the Rider often only provides a post-hoc rationale for the Elephant. We need to understand and consider how to use the values that Elephants respond to.

What we hear is understood in terms of our "frames" (mental networks of ideas and feelings). We are most likely to be able to hear and agree with messages that are consistent with our most prized values, and that’s where we need to engage people to get them involved in the climate crisis movement. We have to consider carefully the words with which we frame our public discussion if we want to move more people to act.


June 22 - Deep Dialogue

Members of ECA Massachusetts joined our climate allies from Mothers Out Front for a fascinating discussion, Build Back Better: A Green Restart to Transportation?, and considered what we can do to move transportation toward net-zero emissions. We considered several questions, including: What are the transportation life-style changes that the pandemic has forced upon us? Which of those changes would we like to preserve? How do we remake our modes of transportation so that we build a sustainable, green economy that improves our safety, our health, and our quality of life, along with environmental fairness? Many of us were inspired by examples of solutions from around the world, including the Dutch who have replaced car-centric urban planning with a casual biking culture (so safe that helmets are not needed)!
 

July 6 - Deep Dialogue/Actionar with Rep. Joan Meschino

As we entered what was the scheduled final month of the two-year legislative session, ECA Massachusetts went into high gear, pushing to get our our priority 2050 Roadmap bill out of the House Ways and Means Committee, and onto the House floor for a vote. We kicked off the month with a virtual Deep Dialogue/Actionar featuring the Roadmap's author and main sponsor, Rep. Joan Meschino, who discussed the status of the bill and her thoughts about the best way to keep it moving forward. And at the end of the meeting, ECA's Seth Evans guided us all through actions - phone calls, emails, and tweets to our legislators! 


July 14 - Monthly Chapter Meeting 

For July's chapter meeting, our featured guest was Rep. Andres "Andy" Vargas of the 3rd Essex District, one of the youngest legislators and a member of the Black and Latino Caucus. Rep. Vargas discussed the 2050 Roadmap bill (H.3983), his special interests in transportation legislation, and the interaction of race and climate issues. He told us the story of how he got into legislative politics at the age of 16 by lobbying for a Civics Education bill (which ultimately was enacted into law eight years later). A lively, informative, and inspiring meeting!

July 15 - Virtual Rally for Climate Roadmap
and Environmental Justice!


In the final countdown to the end of the legislative session, Elders Climate Action Massachusetts held a Virtual Rally with seventeen other advocacy organizations on July 15. Over 260 participants attended to advocate for passage of H3983, An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth and H4264, An Act relative to environmental justice in the Commonwealth.
 
Noting that her constituents "​will be the first climate refugees in Massachusetts,​" ​Roadmap Bill author Rep. Meschino (Third Plymouth) led a line-up of speakers including​ Rep. Pignatelli (Fourth Berkshire) and other prominent legislators. Newton Rep. ​Kay Khan (11th Middlesex) said, "Carbon neutrality by 2050 is within our reach and it is our responsibility to our children, our grandchildren and future generations to do everything in our power to get there.​"​
 
​Speakers representing Elders Climate Action Massachusetts, and other climate allies 350MA, Conservation Law Foundation, League of Women Voters, Mothers Out Front and the Union of Concerned Scientists, all emphasized the urgency of getting the bills out of the House Ways and Means Committee to a vote on the floor of the MA House.

If you missed the rally, you can watch the recording here, or from the featured post on the home page of our ECA Massachusetts website. (Note: The rally starts 3 minutes into the video.) 


July 20 - Deep Dialogue

For this session, we explored what leads elders to get involved in climate activism. Our guest speaker was Jess Ostfeld, a recent Wellesley College graduate whose honors thesis studied elder climate activists’ motivations. Jess reviewed her key findings, which we used as a jumping-off point to consider potential “target audiences” for recruiting new members to ECA Massachusetts and allying with other climate organizations. Her work is based on dozens of interviews Jess conducted last year in the Boston area, including with many with ECA members.
 
ECA Massachusetts Presentation and Education Team

In recent months, team member Tony Lee has organized three Zoom meeting seminars titled, “Can We Stop Climate Change?”  Each consisted of three 90-minute sessions over a 3-week period. These have been attended by 12 people per seminar, typically spread from coast-to-coast. The ability to do breakout rooms on Zoom makes it even more productive. Tony commented: “The Zoom format makes it easy to recruit people and to screen-share graphics and data.” He added: “One of the goals of these seminars is what we call ‘The Amway Method.’ You begin by attending a seminar and then co-facilitating the next with a more experienced person.” Write Tony Lee at anthonydlee@me.com for more information. 

ECA Massachusetts Research Team

Check the featured post on the home page of our website for Research team member Betty Krikorian's interesting new report, The Role of Hydropower in Meeting our Energy Needs. (You can find other reports by our Research team at our website by clicking "Get Informed" and "ECA Mass Briefings and Research Papers.")
 

Chelmsford Climate Action Team

And, finally, a big shout-out to our ECA Massachusetts members in Chelmsford who, as founding member Kathy Cryan-Hicks says, "are continuing to spread the Climate Word in the 'burbs." Kathy reports that in January 2020, she and co-founders Tom Amiro and Bern Kosicki "formed a local group in Chelmsford called Chelmsford Climate Action Team (CCAT) to promote climate legislation, education, and activities. Currently we work with the Chelmsford Library and the town's Sustainability Manager to help our town get to net zero emissions by 2050. We met with our selectmen in July to announce our presence. We told them about our website, listed some of the things we already have done — three TV shows with ECA, our monthly Climate Conversations at the Chelmsford Library, and told them about some of our future plans. We created a brochure to give to the selectmen. And the editor of our local newspaper, Margaret Smith, will be doing an article soon based on what she observed at the July 27 selectmen's meeting." 
 
Check out the beautiful and informative CCAT website - with a blog and climate news from around the world, not just Chelmsford, and participate in the next “Climate Conversations”  program, which you can attend via Zoom. (See details above in this newsletter at "Save the Date.")


 
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Elders Climate Action Mass Chapter · 51 Taylor Rd · Stow, MA 01775 · USA

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