Mass. legislature calls for 100% carbon-free energy

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Craig Altemose ’10 urges the people of Massachusetts to go Green.

The Massachusetts General Court passed a resolution on Tuesday, April 7 urging federal action to radically transform the nation’s energy infrastructure, repowering America with 100% clean electricity and ending carbon dioxide emissions from electric generation within 10 years.

HLS student Craig Altemose ’10, one of the co-coordinators for Massachusetts Power Shift (MPS), a state-wide student environmental network devoted to combating global warming, worked with State Senator Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton) and Representative Frank Smizik (D-Brookline) to craft the resolution, the first of its kind in the nation.

“The time has come and gone when people considered environmentalism to be contrary to economic development,” said Smizik. “The future of our economy is inextricably intertwined with the movement for sustainability, and Massachusetts Power Shift’s goal of generating all of our electricity from zero-carbon sources of power within ten years is not only doable, but it will also provide an economic stimulus and transformation the likes of which we have not seen since the invention of the steam engine.”

Massachusetts has historically been on the cutting edge of climate solutions. “Last year Massachusetts made history by passing into law the Global Warming Solutions Act, which set economy-wide targets to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050 and up to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020,” said Pacheco. “I strongly urge Congress to adopt Massachusetts Power Shift’s goal of meeting the nation’s energy needs with 100% clean electricity within the next ten years.”

“This resolution is an extraordinary statement,” Altemose declared, “The Massachusetts General Court is calling for unprecedentedly ambitious federal solutions to global warming.” Smizik and Pacheco chair the House and Senate Committees on Global Warming and Climate Change, respectively, and Altemose applauded their commitment to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are the primary cause of global warming.

Citing the many threats to human life, health, and national security posed by continued global warming, the resolution urges the federal government to end carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity industry by adopting a plan similar to that proposed last year by former Vice President and Nobel laureate Al Gore. Although the Massachusetts legislature’s resolution is less specific than the proposal outlined by Gore, it cites the United States’ abundant potential for the use of solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources.

Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to President Barack Obama ’91, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and the Bay State’s congressional delegation. But MPS co-coordinator Katie MacDonald, a freshman at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, warned that resolutions are not enough to arrest global warming. “We need real policies that dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions, and we needed them 20 years ago,” she said.

The resolution marks the public launch of a campaign to persuade the Massachusetts congressional delegation to support a transition to 100% clean electricity in 10 years. Nearly 200 people showed their support for the resolution and its goal of 100% clean electricity by attending a March 14 rally at the Massachusetts State House that featured speeches from Smizik and Pacheco.

The next step is a series of town-hall style events on climate and energy issues to be held in conjunction with the national climate group Focus the Nation. Seven events will be held across Massachusetts on April 18, and members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have been invited to speak. For more information on how to get involved, visit www.masspowershift.org.

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