Letter to Committee Chairs in support of H2935, transition to a clean energy Commonwealth

Senator Brownsberger, along with a number of other legislators, has signed a letter to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in support of H2935, An Act to transition to a clean energy Commonwealth.

March 17, 2014

 Representative John Keenan, House Chair

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

State House, Room 473-B Boston, MA 02133


Senator Benjamin Downing, Senate Chair

Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

State House, Room 413-F Boston, MA 02133


Re: HB 2935, An Act to Transition to a Clean Energy Commonwealth


Dear Chairman Keenan and Chairman Downing:

 As coal plants move toward closure in Massachusetts and nationwide, it is time for the legislature to act quickly and decisively to protect communities and workers adversely impacted by coal plant retirements. We urge you to stand up for local and regional economies, workers, public health, clean air, and clean water by supporting An Act to Transition to a Clean Energy Commonwealth (H.2935). H.2935 would responsibly move Massachusetts away from coal-fired power generation by 2020 while establishing a community transition fund to provide support for displaced workers and municipal revenues.

 The need for action on this front could not be more urgent. The remaining three Massachusetts plants currently burning coal have announced plans for either closure or de-listing from the power grid by 2017. These plants are hurting our state economically, and costing individuals, families, and the Commonwealth through days lost at work, health damages, and premature mortality. The health costs triggered by pollution from Brayton Point alone, which plans to operate until 2017, are estimated to be $120.5 to $294.5 million annually.

 Burning coal poses a great threat to both human health and the environment. Nationally, coal is responsible for one third of U.S. carbon emissions and is the main contributor to climate disruption, which contributes to water and food insecurity, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels. This costs Americans over $140 billion annually, with each family’s share over $1,000 per year.[1] Locally, the Clean Air Task Force estimates there are 215 premature deaths and more than 5,000 public health incidents from coal plants in Massachusetts every year.[2] The asthma rate in communities with coal plants is measurably elevated and is one of the leading causes for missed school days, including in Holyoke, where the asthma rate is twice the state average.

 As plants retire, they often strand communities and workers in the process. We need a smart transition plan that ensures a responsible retirement of coal-fired electricity generation and integrates cleaner and safer alternatives while taking into account the needs of workers and local economies. An Act to Transition to a Clean Energy Commonwealth creates such a plan by providing a comprehensive solution to protect the fiscal and physical health of communities across Massachusetts, particularly coal plant communities and neighboring regions. We urge you to report H.2935 favorably from committee.



Representative Denise Andrews, 2nd Franklin

Representative Cory Atkins, 14th Middlesex

Representative Ruth Balser, 12th Middlesex

Representative John Binienda, 17th Worcester

Representative Marjorie Decker, 25th Middlesex

Representative Lori Ehrlich, 8th Essex

Representative Christopher Fallon, 33rd Middlesex

Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, 3rd Berkshire

Representative Sean Garballey, 23rd Middlesex

Representative Anne Gobi, 5th Worcester

Representative Jonathan Hecht, 29th Middlesex

Representative Paul Heroux, 2nd Bristol

Representative Louis Kafka, 8th Norfolk

Representative Kay Khan, 11th Middlesex

Representative Peter Kocot, 1st Hampshire

Representative Stephen Kulik, 1st Franklin

Representative David Linksy, 5th Middlesex

Representative Jay Livingstone, 8th Suffolk

Representative Timothy Madden, Barnstable, Dukes, & Nantucket

Representative Liz Malia, 11th Suffolk

Representative Paul Mark, 2nd Berkshire

Representative Elizabeth Poirier, 14th Bristol

Representative Denise Provost, 27th Middlesex

Representative Dave Rogers, 24th Middlesex

Representative Byron Rushing, 9th Suffolk

Representative Tom Sannicandro, 7th Middlesex

Representative Carl Sciortino, 34th Middlesex

Representative Frank Smizik, 15th Norfolk

Representative Aaron Vega, 5th Hampden

Senator Michael Barrett, 3rd Middlesex

Senator William Brownsberger, 2nd Suffolk & Middlesex

Senator Cynthia Creem, 1st Middlesex & Norfolk

Senator Sal DiDomenico, Middlesex & Suffolk

Senator James Eldridge, Middlesex & Worcester

Senator Marc Pacheco, 1st Plymouth & Bristol

Senator Daniel Wolf, Cape & Islands

[1]NRDC: High Cost of Doing Nothing http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/climate-disruption-tax.asp

[2]Clean AIr Task Force: Death and Disease From Coal http://www.catf.us/fossil/problems/power_plants/existing/map.php?state=Massachusetts

View letter.