The Environment and Climate Change

The Environment and Climate Change

This post is the eighth of a twelve-part series to publicize candidate answers to our Electoral Questionnaire. Candidates were required to answer all questions to be eligible for Boston DSA’s endorsement.

Boston DSA will vote on endorsements at the July 21st General Meeting.

This section asks candidates about preparing for climate change, divesting from and ending projects related to fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions, public banking, and nationalization of fossil fuel companies.

How will you prepare Massachusetts for climate change much more severe than the Kyoto Protocol target??

Gretchen Van Ness

  • We must continue to work to green our economy, but also be realistic about the serious environmental threats we face. I have no answers but I do have the ability to hold hearings, call for expert testimony, learn, and work with my progressive colleagues to understand what we’re facing and work to protect those who are most vulnerable in Massachusetts. This is an emergency and there’s no time to waste.

Darryn Remillard

  • I grew in Falmouth, MA and many of my friends’ parents are climate change scientists, oceanographers and marine biologists. For my entire life they have been sounding the alarm about climate change. Climate change is certainly real, and it appears that we are witnessing outcomes that fit with more aggressive models rather than gradual “over the next century” models upon which many global climate change compacts have been based. One thing is abundantly clear to me: we MUST act to adapt to climate change and if we do not we face a planetary crisis. With this in mind: 1) We must transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050. This means that we must fully electrify our MBTA (subways, commuter rail and buses), and create a tolling system on ALL of our high-speed roads so that we can develop another source of tax revenue to subdisize public transit and make it cheaper than car travel. 2) We need to expand public transit into parts of our state that are currently not served at all- this means expanding commuter rail service beyond current terminal points into areas of our commonwealth that are economically underserved and will be likely future points for affordable housing expansion and local rejuvenation (I’m thinking of places like Orange and Athol, MA). 3) As individuals we must all recognize that our own actions are contributing immensely to climate change- especially through the consumption of meat. I will support policies that will expand local food production here in Massachusetts in preparation for a future where global food production and trade no longer exists. 4) We’ve got some pretty fascinating local experiments going on here in Massachusetts that are challenging the orthodoxy of global capitalism such as the use of BerkShares (local currency) in Western and Central, MA and are fostering local and regional resilience. I support legislation and policies that incentivize employee and cooperatively owned enterprises.

Segun Idowu

  • I envision an environmentally-responsible Massachusetts, fully aware of – and actualized toward addressing – the effects of climate change, with state (and federal) government funding environmental priorities that have a quantifiable, positive effect on maintaining open space, rethinking transportation policy, developing and supporting clean energy initiatives, coordinating housing policy with transportation policy, and remediating (and repurposing, where appropriate) industrial/other toxic waste sites, among other initiatives/efforts/programs. Ultimately, I want my community – and my state – to be healthy, happy, and successful. I believe protecting the environment has a lot to do with that and I want to make sure that the Commonwealth meets its responsibilities in that regard.

Nika Elugardo

  • We will need to raise money to have government-directed investment in green energy.In addition, because we cannot change US policy alone in MA we must unfortunately fund state-directed climate mitigation programs as well to limit damage, especially to vulnerable communities in the Commonwealth.

Ture Turnbull

  • My hope for Massachusetts is to create a master plan based on blue-green design. With its need to improve infrastructure now, we have an opportunity to initiate innovative solutions at the start, that will carry us into the future. Commoditizing our waste is a great short-term solution to get the revenue to invest in these projects, but the long-term goal needs to be becoming waste-free and reducing climate pollution. My hope is to surpass our goal of 100% clean energy for 2050. This includes my complete opposition to fracking and the development or expansion of pipelines in our state.

Darrin Howell

  • This is a huge question that we definitely can’t cover in a short response. But some of the first, tangible steps we can take as a state are those recommended by organizations like ELM and the Sierra Club: increase the Renewable Portfolio Standard significantly; eliminate methane leaks in the natural gas distribution system; and put a price on carbon pollution. Plenty more ground to cover, of course.

Will you divest your campaign contributions from fossil fuels? Please select at least one answer and explain why.

> No;
> Partially, from fossil fuel energy companies;
> Partially, from institutions (e.g. banks) that fund fossil fuel projects;
> Partially, from companies involved in sale or transportation of fossil fuels (e.g. Spectra, National Grid);
> Yes, from all components listed above

Gretchen Van Ness

  • I have already taken the no-fossil fuel money pledge and have accepted no campaign contributions from any of these or similar businesses.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes, from all components listed above.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes, from all components listed above. Clean energy is the future, environmentally and economically.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes. Because I have already committed to taking no corporate donations, I can say that yes, my campaign contributions are entirely free of any fossil fuel money.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes, from all components listed above. I can’t take from money interests that stand in direct opposition to what I or my constituents believe in.

Darrin Howell

  • I don’t accept funds from any entity tied to the fossil fuel industry to begin with.

Do you commit to divest all public assets, including pensions, banking and credit, and contracts, from fossil fuels? Please select at least one answer and explain why.

> No;
> Partially, from fossil fuel energy companies;
> Partially, from institutions (e.g. banks) that fund fossil fuel projects;
> Partially, from companies involved in sale or transportation of fossil fuels (e.g. Spectra, National Grid);
> Yes, from all components listed above

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes, involving all of these components listed above.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes, and we should make a public commitment to divest public assets from a variety of harmful industries, including fossil fuel energy companies, institutions that fund fossil fuel projects, and companies profiting from sale or transportation of fossil fuels.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes, from all components listed above. I cannot provide support to corporations that cause direct or indirect harm to residents of the Commonwealth.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes, from all components, and I’ve worked with public sector unions to push this exact policy within the state and municipal pension systems.

If you do support carbon taxes, what would you do with the tax revenue generated? Please select one choice and explain.

> Add to general tax pool of the Commonwealth (e.g. Washington state’s SB 6203)
> Redistribute tax back to residents (“revenue neutral”) (e.g. Washington state’s I-732)
> Use tax revenue to fund investments in low-income communities, environmental protection, and clean, renewable energy infrastructure development (e.g. Washington state’s I-1631).
> Other (explain)

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes

Darryn Remillard

  • Renewable energy investment (to include full-electrification of our public transit and switching all municipal and state vehicles over to electric only), and investing funds into poor and communities of color.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes. I would use tax revenue to fund investments in affordable housing, environmental protection, and clean, renewable energy infrastructure development (e.g. Washington state’s I-1631)

Nika Elugardo

  • Use tax revenue to fund investments in low-income communities, environmental protection, and clean, renewable energy infrastructure development.

Ture Turnbull

  • Use tax revenue to fund investments in low-income communities, environmental protection, and clean, renewable energy infrastructure development (e.g. Washington state’s I-1631). We don’t need to fill the general coffers when environmental degradation has already negatively impacted our communities. We need to invest in projects that will begin the work that should have been started yesterday.

Darrin Howell

  • I’d first opt for investments in low-income communities like my own, whether through ramped up environmental protection efforts or development of renewable infrastructure. Quite frankly, we need it! But I’m not at all opposed to individual redistribution either. If we go the state route, I’d want to see those funds specifically earmarked for the types of investments I outlined earlier.

Do you support an immediate moratorium on all fossil fuel related projects, including resource extraction, transportation infrastructure (e.g., pipelines, compressor stations, shipping terminals), and new electricity generation based on fossil fuels?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, absolutely. I have attended Resist the West Roxbury Pipeline events.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes.

Segun Idowu

  • I support the phase-in of such a moratorium.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • I am opposed to the construction of interstate gas pipelines and to any financing that shifts the cost and risk of new fossil fuel infrastructure onto Massachusetts residents. Further, I would work to oppose other gas infrastructure such as the proposed Enbridge compressor station in Weymouth. We have a wealth of clean, renewable options available to us — and should prioritize those options.

Do you support the creation of a public bank within the Commonwealth that would be used to fund renewable energy (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal) and “green” infrastructure?

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes, actually. This is “sort of” what I’m getting at with a Commonwealth Municipal Broadband, Smartgrind and Renewable Energy Development Fund that would capitalized with a minimum of $100 million and would initially be targeted to the ~52 communities in Massachusetts who already have municipal electricity departments so that they could offer municipal high-speed internet and also create local/municipally owned electric vehicle charging points and increase their local renewable energy portfolio standard. I would imagine this fund also being available to other communities so that they can fund renewable energy infrastructure projects as well as smartgrids/microgrid infrastructure.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes.

Nika Elugardo

  • Yes.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • Yes. Another area where the “free market” has failed us.

Do you support the nationalization, or the expropriation of goods from private owners to be placed under democratic control and ownership, of existing fossil fuel companies? Would you “nationalize” National Grid? Please explain.

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes. We face a climate emergency and must take immediate action to save our planet. So long as there is a profit to be made from fossil fuels, there’s no reason to shift to the green economy that we need in order to survive.

Darryn Remillard

  • I support the de-privitization on all basic utilities as well as our physical electricity grid and placing these under public control (power, electricity and water).

Segun Idowu

  • I’m open to the idea, in principle, but would need to study same further.

Nika Elugardo

  • I oppose the privatization of our utilities and believe it would make sense to nationalize public utilities. Deregulation and privatization are failures and only serve to enrich a few private interests. Nationalization is simply not enough; we cannot continue to burn carbon at our current rate. Life will become impossible for our species unless we slow and reverse the progress of climate change. State-owned oil companies in other countries don’t actually help achieve our climate goals: In a perverse sense, having a state-owned oil company may incentivize the government to continue or even to increase burning fossil fuels to raise revenue.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes

Darrin Howell

  • I believe that public utilities should be in the hands of the public — whether that’s energy, water or telecommunications. I’d love to learn more about concrete ways we can move in that direction at the state level.

Given limited political capital and other resources, what strategy for reducing carbon emissions would you pursue? Please select one choice, and explain why below.

> Divestment and reinvestment
> Carbon tax
> Carbon offset or carbon permit trading

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Divestment and reinvestment, as that allows for the creation and expansion of a green economy.

Darryn Remillard

  • I don’t like this question. There’s NO reason why we cannot do more than one of these, so I support divestment and reinvestment and a revenue positive carbon tax.

Segun Idowu

  • I support carbon pricing in principle – but I am concerned about the potential financial impacts on the people that live in my district, as well as businesses in my district. I would work with environmental advocates and others to further understand these potential impacts and to explore how to best mitigate same in the short term, while acknowledging that the long-term benefits of carbon pricing are well worth pursuing.

Nika Elugardo

  • Carbon Tax. I support divestment and reinvestment, but we also need to levy an explicit cost on the use of carbon to rapidly reduce usage. Carbon taxes must be large enough and proceeds used to reinvest in green energy. A tax on its own will not solve the problem; we must commit to becoming 100% fossil fuel free.

Ture Turnbull

  • Yes. I believe that public commodities should remain under the public sphere.

Darrin Howell

  • Divestment and reinvestment appears to be the path of least resistance currently, for better or worse. So it’s an option worth pursuing if it means progress! And while it might be a heavier lift, I would also like to pursue a tax on carbon pollution.

Do you support carbon taxes as a means to achieve emissions reductions? Please select the answer closest to your stance and explain why.

> Yes, and I would pursue carbon tax legislation similar to recent bills in Washington state.
> No, because the tax rate is never high enough on polluters to affect change or revenue is not distributed fairly
> No, because we cannot solve problems created by a market using market means
> No, for other reasons (please specify)
> Other (please specify)

Gretchen Van Ness

  • Yes, and I would pursue carbon tax legislation similar to recent bills in Washington State, not as the only thing we do, but as one of a multitude of things we must do to shift to a green economy. There is no single solution. Rather, we must try many different things simultaneously, and immediately.

Darryn Remillard

  • Yes. I support a revenue positive carbon tax.

Segun Idowu

  • Yes, and I would pursue carbon tax legislation similar to recent bills in Washington state.

Nika Elugardo

  • OTHER. I support anything and everything we can do to stop the climate crisis. That includes divestment/reinvestment as well as a direct carbon tax. I do not support legislation recently introduced in WA which was “revenue neutral” and too slow. We need to be aggressive and take action right away.

Ture Turnbull

  • I would support the carbon tax. By commoditizing our waste, we can gain the funds needed to begin seriously addressing the damage already created and prevent further harm. When the “real” cost of fossil fuels is known, we can accelerate our path to a clean environment.

Darrin Howell

  • Yes, and I would pursue carbon tax legislation similar to recent bills in Washington state. I want to apply all levers available to us given the current circumstances. But the old saying that we “can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools” does resonate with me.

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