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AS GOVERNOR BAKER VETOES MAJOR CLIMATE BILL, NEW REPORT SHOWS PATTERNS OF INFLUENCE ON BEACON HILL

AS GOVERNOR BAKER VETOES MAJOR CLIMATE BILL, NEW REPORT SHOWS PATTERNS OF INFLUENCE ON BEACON HILL

Utilities, real estate, fossil fuel, and power generation companies

lead opposition to climate policy

PROVIDENCE — January 21, 2021 — In the wake of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s
veto of the most ambitious climate bill to reach his desk, a new analysis authored by scholars
the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society provides insights about who is influencing
action and inaction on climate and clean energy policy in the Massachusetts state house. The
study is based on systematic collection and analysis of 1,187 pieces of testimony given in
legislative committees on 291 priority bills supported by statewide environmental organizations
from 2013 to 2018, and 4,072 lobbying visits as reported to the Massachusetts Secretary of
State over the period 2005-2018. The researchers had to overcome the lack of transparency
and absence of uniform record keeping in the legislature to compile the analysis.

The analysis showed that despite overwhelming public support for climate and clean energy
bills (over 90% of public testimony is in favor), their advancement is undermined by the
imbalance of what happens behind closed doors through lobbying. Electricity and natural gas
utilities are the most powerful actors when it comes to shaping climate and energy legislation in
Massachusetts; other key groups frequently in opposition include the real estate industry, fossil
fuels, and power generators. These organizations outspend clean energy advocates on
lobbying by more than 3.5 to 1.

“Massachusetts has seen itself as a leader on climate change, but a decade went by with little
legislative success,” said Timmons Roberts, Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and
Sociology at Brown University and Executive Director of the Climate Social Science Network
that released the report. “The data and analysis provides a potential explanation. We hear
anecdotal reports of influence efforts on Beacon Hill, but this systematic data collection revealed
important coalitions in support of and opposition to climate action at the state level, and exposed
patterns in the behind-the-scenes lobbying that are seldom understood.”

Find the full report here: Brown Univ study of why MA legislature is not progressive: https://www.cssn.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Press-release-Massachusetts-Climate-Lobbying-Briefing-1-21-2021-corrected.pdf

Legislative Actions

Time critical actions:

Municipal Sustainability Checklist

We have created a municipal “sustainability checklist” that can help towns compare what they are doing with other towns, as well as get ideas and encourage collaboration. For residents, the checklist helps understand what towns are doing and not doing, as well as set priorities for local advocacy. For organizers, the checklist is an excellent tool to organize local groups around, and to build networks of people who care about sustainability.

Click here for details.