Sierra Club Priorities

Members of the Sierra Club have recently been sending me a form email as appearing below.

I’m on record in support of much of this legislation, and in fact, a sponsor or cosponsor of much of it.

I’m hopeful that we can make progress in this area and I’m happy to get additional specific input or answer more specific questions, ideally through this forum, so that we can share the conversation.

Please Support these Important Environmental Bills

As the legislature approaches “Joint Rule 10 Day”, there are a number of important environmental bills that are yet to be reported out of committee. Your support of these bills is critical for their passage. I am asking you to please contact these committees and urge passage of these important bills.

Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy:

Bottle Bill Update, (Rep. Hecht, Sen. Creem, H2943, S1588) This would add water, sports drinks, juices, and iced teas to the existing successful nickel deposit system. It would decrease litter and increase recycling. They can take positive action now or it will appear on the November 2014 ballot. JTU

Comprehensive Siting Reform for Land Based Wind Projects. (Wind Siting Reform) (H2980, S1591, Rep. Smizik, Sen. Finegold) For siting purposes, current law discriminates in favor of fossil fueled facilities. This bill facilitates the siting of land based wind energy projects. JTU

Transition to a Clean Energy Commonwealth (Rep. Ehrlich, H2935) Would phase out coal in Massachusetts, help retrain workers, and help transition communities that host a coal plant. A clean energy future will make Massachusetts a leader in the World clean energy economy. JTU

Environment and Natural Resources:

Save our Public Lands The Public Lands Protection Act (PLPA) Rep. Balser, Sen. Eldridge, H657/S361) Our public parks are often threatened with development. The PLPA would provide important protection for these public lands in our communities. This is already administrative policy; this bill just affirms it and makes it permanent. J-ENV

Incineration Moratorium and Phaseout (Sen. DiDomenico/Rep. Garballey, H706, S1004) Places a legislated, permanent moratorium on increasing trash incineration. Phases out incineration over the next 11 years. J-ENV

[Oppose] Repeal of the Mass Endangered Species Act (MESA) (Sen. Candaras, Sen. Tarr S345, S411) These would eliminate or weaken of the state’s protections for rare species, with a successful history of 20 years of conservation of rare plants and animals. We urge the committee to report these bills unfavorably. J-ENV


Shifting From Carbon Emissions to Transportation Investment (Carbon Tax) (H2532, Rep Conroy, Sen. Barrett) Encourages energy efficiency by taxing those who pollute more, providing rebates to mitigate any effects of regressive taxation. REV

Electric Vehicles Omnibus Bill (H.2594, Rep. Hecht) provides incentives for the purchase of EVs, adds incentives for charging stations, places charging station requirements for parking lots. REV

Public Health:

Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) (Rep. Ehrlich H1944). Hazardous air pollutants are toxic chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer, to cause birth defects, to cause serious health effects, or to cause adverse environmental effects. This provides a small pollution mitigation fee from HAPs producers; the proceeds would fund research and health studies on the health impacts from air pollutants. JPH

Ban Polystyrene (Rep. Smizik, Sen. Barrett, H2087). Bans polystyrene (#6 plastic) in all forms when in contact with food. JPH

Particulates, (Rep. Provost, H2059) Requires a study of the health effects of particulate air pollution from surface transportation, e.g. highways and rail. JPH


Make Idling Law Enforceable (S1636 Sen. Brownsberger) The current 5 minute limit is difficult to enforce and produces excessive greenhouse gas. This reduces the limit to 2 minutes. JTR

Thank you for your work to help pass these important environmental bills.

The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit, non-partisan grassroots environmental organization. The Sierra Club has 22,000 members and supporters throughout Massachuetts and more than one million nationwide dedicated to clean air, clean water, healthy, vibrant communities, and the preservation of the Commonwealth’s most precious natural spaces.

Massachusetts Sierra Club

10 Milk Street, Suite 417

Boston MA 02108


Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

5 replies on “Sierra Club Priorities”

  1. Will,

    Regarding the bottle bill, have any studies been done on how much litter is a result of people tossing water or sports drink bottles by the side of the road? With most towns having recycling (which I’m in favor of) and most people being much more conscious of not littering these days, will expanding the bottle bill really have any positive impact?

    I believe, in the last year or two, the Globe had an article stating that about 2/3 of bottle deposits were never claimed and the money just went to the state. So, if true, expanding the bottle bill would really just amount to more taxes.

    I can state that anecdotally, when I go for a run I see a lot of beer bottles sitting in recycling bins when they could be returned to get the deposit back.

  2. Definitely a lot of people don’t return their bottles and this creates a mini-industry. That’s a downside of the bill — in an urban setting late night collection of bottles can be disruptive. I remain in support of the bill despite these downsides. For the positive side of the argument, one place to start is the MassPIRG website.

  3. As it says in that link, the unclaimed deposits currently go to the general fund. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with taxes in general. They start out as targeted and eventually get co-opted for other purposes. I certainly want to prevent littering, but, especially in this state, I simply object to paying more taxes. This is especially true if it’s not targeted.

    Not all consumers redeem their containers for the deposit. In Massachusetts, distributors and bottlers are required to turn over unclaimed deposits to the state. These funds used to go to the state‚Äôs Clean Environment Fund, which supported local and statewide recycling efforts. They now go into the state’s General Fund instead.

  4. Dear Will,

    I am quite disappointed in your support of this bill. I don’t know when it was the last time you tried to get your bottle deposit back, but if you did, you should know what a nightmare that is! Machines are constantly broken or overfilled, store clerks refuse to take bottles they don’t sell, so you end up trying to recall which store you bought that particular bottle from, etc…

    Long story short, last Saturday I spent 2 (!!!!) hours trying to return 3 dozen of containers. At the end, half a dozen have ended in trash. No, not my recycling bean, which I use faithfully, in trash. And I really felt like throwing them in Charles River (but did not). Or smashing them against the Beacon Hill (but did not either). Just to make my point about the frustration the deposits cause people.

    Long story short: most reasonable people support recycling just because it is not hard and a right thing to do. Forcing deposit on more containers is a plain extortion and has nothing to do with increasing the recycling.

    1. Thanks, Alex. I take your point — I have experienced the hassle.

      I think the best argument for the bottle bill is that it gives people a lot of incentive not to litter and also to pick up litter. There is also data that it improves recycling rates somewhat.

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