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Massachusetts Chapter Takes Action on Priority Legislation

Massachusetts Climate Action Call Supports Priority Legislation

Massachusetts Chapter | June, 2021

Sixty-eight Massachusetts residents learned about bills focused on clean air, clean heat, and healthy soils—and how to encourage their state legislators to sponsor them—in the Climate Action Call on Thursday, June 17. Climate Action Calls give attendees information about critical climate issues, time to take meaningful action, and the chance to connect with others concerned about the climate, all in less than an hour. By the end of the June call, participants sent 87 emails and 13 phone calls to their state representatives and senators, and they left with information about how to keep advocating for this agenda.

The Massachusetts 2021–22 legislative session is underway, and the Mothers Out Front Legislation team has identified seven priority bills. These include proposals that support Massachusetts’ transition from fossil fuels, protect children and their families from air and pesticide pollution, create good jobs, and emphasize environmental justice. A collaboration of the Legislation & Regulation Team, the Clean Heat, Clean Air campaign and the Healthy Soil, Livable Future action group have designated this set of bills as the Mothers’ Agenda for A Livable Future.

During the event, Legislation Team member Mary Lewis Pierce explained how Massachusetts senators and representatives can advance bills through the legislative process. She also described the three bills addressing clean heat. The “Future of Heat” act (S.2148/H.3298) provides incentives and financing mechanisms for gas companies to transition to thermal infrastructure. It also mandates that energy customers will no longer pay fossil fuel infrastructure costs after 2050. The “Local Option for Building Electrification” act (H.2167/ S.1333) enables municipalities to pass ordinances requiring new buildings to be all-electric and fossil-fuel-free. This would remove a legal barrier for cities and towns that want to pursue these policies. Finally, the “Building Justice with Jobs” act (H.3365/S.2226) expands existing Massachusetts energy efficiency programs to retrofit homes and electrify heating. It prioritizes improvements to homes in environmental justice communities and will create jobs with fair wages, good benefits, and strong worker protections. 

Sue Swanson, another member of the Legislation Team, discussed the bills addressing clean air and healthy soils. The act to “Improve Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality for Communities Burdened by Transportation Pollution” (H.2230/S.1447) mandates the the identification of at least eight transportation pollution hotspots across the state, and it requires the installation of air filters in existing schools, group homes, and multifamily residences near these hotspots. It also mandates advanced air filtration system in new construction in these areas and seeks to prevent new installations of gas stoves. Meanwhile, the “Energy Facilities Siting Reform” act (H.3336/S.2135) establishes requirements that limit the potential for dirty energy facilities and other infrastructure to be sited in communities already overburdened by pollution. To support better soils, the “Pesticide Protections for Schoolchildren” act  (H. 926) would update the list of pesticides designated as safe for use on the outdoor grounds of schools, child care centers, and school age child care programs, banning the use of glyphosates and other harmful chemicals. The “Food Justice with Jobs” act (H.967/S.495) complements these protections by supporting healthy community agriculture, which will create jobs, increase access to healthy food, and draw down carbon in urban areas.

The Climate Action Call also provided dedicated time for building relationships and taking action as a group. Before hearing about the Mothers’ Agenda for a Livable Future, participants joined break-out sessions to introduce themselves and learn about each others’ experiences contacting their state legislators. Later on, Leadership Team member Andra Rose explained how participants could use a web-based tool to identify their legislators and email them to request that they sponsor this legislative agenda. Organizers set aside time in the event for participants to compose personalized emails, call to follow up on their messages, and tell other people in their networks how they can help.

Attendees spent 15 minutes taking these actions and then reconvened to share their experiences. People expressed appreciation for the chance to learn about these priority bills and for a quick and easy way to advocate for them. In the event chatbox, one participant noted that it was “really great to do this in a group!” Another wrote, “I love feeling like I accomplished something!” 

Register for the Next Climate Action Call!

The next Climate Action Call will take place Thursday, July 15, 12:00-12:45 pm. These Climate Action Calls will take place on the third Thursday of each month at 12:00 pm. At each event, Mothers Out Front Organizers will offer a different impactful climate action. Attendees do not need prior experience or knowledge to take part, which makes these calls a great way to strengthen climate activism muscles. Register Here.

Michelle Scott is a volunteer with Mothers Out Front in Medford. She is a transportation planner, an amateur birder and gardener, and mother to an energetic one-year-old explorer.