Opinion: Massachusetts Climate Accord

Accord (noun)
  1. proper relationship or proportion; harmony.
  2. a harmonious union of sounds, colors, etc.
  3. consent or concurrence of opinions or wills; agreement.
  4. an international agreement; settlement of questions outstanding among nations.

As Donald Trump decides to pull a reluctant nation from the Paris Climate Accord, a symbolic move that takes our country backward and reduces our standing in the world of nations, Governor Charlie Baker has stated that Massachusetts will participate in the U.S. Climate Alliance, along with California, New York, Washington, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

In addition, Maura Healy is working with a coalition of 19 state attorneys general called “We Are Still In.”

On behalf of our communities, our businesses, and our residents, the state attorneys general are proud to join this national alliance in support of achieving American commitments to the Paris Agreement.Massachusetts AG Maura Healey

How can we who believe that clean water, clean air, and renewable energy are the only sane way forward participate in helping Massachusetts move toward the goal of exceeding the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement?

Below are a few recommendations for actions at the state, local, and federal level. By taking action, despair and frustration transform into empowerment and hope.

This is how we fight back!

State Legislation

The first step is to educate ourselves about Carbon Pricing bills currently in the Massachusetts legislature. There are two: one in the House and one in the Senate.

MA House Bill H.1726:

MA House Bill H.1726: An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs was proposed by Jen Benson, and co-sponsored by Jamie Eldridge and 57 others.

Sheila Harrington has not yet co-sponsored this bill. She represents First Middlesex, consisting of Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend, and Precinct 1 of Ayer.

Let’s ask her why:
Representative Sheila Harrington: 617-722-2305.

MA Senate Bill S.1821:

MA Senate Bill S.1821: An Act Combating Climate Change was proposed by Sen. Michael Barrett with 62 other signers.

Senator Eileen Donoghue has not yet agreed to cosponsor this bill. She represents First Middlesex, consisting of Lowell, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsborough, and Westford,

Let’s talk with her about it:
Senator Eileen Donoghue: 617-722-1630.

Information Session:

Representative Jen Benson will be giving a presentation on MA House Bill H.1726 on Thursday, June 29, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Shirley Town Hall, located at 7 Keady Way, Shirley.

The Town Hall is located in the municipal complex between the police station and Hazen Memorial Library.

You can read more about the event and RSVP here: Moving MA Towards a Low-Carbon Economy.

Act Local

Barbara Rich spoke in church recently (First Parish Groton), saying that when things feel big and overwhelming, she reminds herself to start small, to start local.

We all have things we could be doing at home to reduce our impact on the environment. Right now there is an embarrassingly large bag of shopping bags in the back of my car waiting to be recycled.  I’m going to start keeping reusable shopping bags in the car so I don’t forget.

Here in Groton we have a Sustainability Committee with a volunteer board (hint: 2 openings on this important board!).  They promote initiatives on Climate Action, Pollinator Protection, ongoing erosion to the Squannacook and Nashua Rivers, and a well-being initiative.

Take a look at what they’re up to–all politics is local!

Federal Legislation

We started at the state level, and moved to the personal and local.  It’s time to cast a wider net and look at what’s happening in the halls of Congress. There is a bill lurking in the Senate: S.951: The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.

Senate Bill S.951:

During the upcoming weeks of June, Republicans will be seeking Democratic support for Senate Bill S.951: The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017. This anti-regulatory, anti-environmental bill could have long-lasting effects on the environment and other regulatory agencies long after the 2020 election.

Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey will not, as far as we can tell, support this.

However, Democrats in red states could be tempted. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are both cosponsors, although West Virginia Indivisible is actively challenging Manchin for his stance.

Indivisible has provided us with excellent materials on this complex bill.

The most effective thing we can do is talk to environmentalists in other states about this bill and let them know about its far-reaching and environmentally destructive ramifications. Call some old friends that haven’t heard from you in a while.  You know, the ones you used to hike with, who love the fresh air and wide open spaces of our beautiful country.

Ask them how they’ve been; they might be open to hearing more about possible actions they can take, like joining a local Indivisible group, supporting the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and most importantly for those in red states plus West Virginia and North Dakota, ask them to call both of their senators and register their concern about this bill.  Who knows, perhaps that old friend is part of the national Indivisible network!

Renewing relationships with old friends brings us full circle back to the concept of accord: a proper relationship or proportion, harmony.  The current climate in Washington is one of discord, yet there are signs of hope.  Cities, states, and even corporations have come forward to fill in the gap left by the federal government in climate protection.

We are not alone.

Deborah Santoro
with Margaret Scarsdale and Dina Samfield

Opinion blog posts represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Indivisible Groton Area or its individual members. IGA invites input and opinion from among the diversity of its membership.

Action Call: 48 Hours to Save ACA (Again)

This is not a drill.

President Trump and House Republicans were able to strike a deal to appease the far-right Freedom Caucus by undercutting protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Right now, Republicans are rallying votes for TrumpCare 2.0. Killing TrumpCare once and for all depends on the next 24-48 hours and your constituent power. It depends on you and your neighbors showing up at district offices and calling to make sure that your Members of Congress know that the only acceptable vote on this dumpster fire of a bill is a firm NO.

Find out more

Call to Oppose Healthcare Repeal

From the Indivisible Calendar- today’s action is to call your member of Congress and oppose healthcare repeal. 

If you didn’t get a chance to share your personal story at the Town Hall with Niki Tsongas, today is a great day to do that! 

And although we normally say phone calls are best, if you have a personal story to relay you can also put it in a letter. Niki asked for these stories- the stories we tell help shape the arguments she uses on the floor of Congress. 

Have you called your congressperson today?

Weekly Action Items

Congratulations to the New England Patriots for showing us that even the most unlikely victories are possible for those who don’t get flustered, don’t give up, and just keep pushing down the field.

The national Indivisible movement is calling on members of affiliate groups to carry out a number of actions during the week ahead.

One potential win would be blocking the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to the position of Secretary of Education.

IGA as a group holds no opinion on specific education policies, although we take note that DeVos is strongly opposed by educators and school administrators, who we consider to be our most trusted experts in such matters.

Our primary opposition comes from DeVos’ lack of experience in public education, school funding, higher education financial aid programs, and the enforcement of civil rights, among other necessary areas of policy. Her inarticulate confirmation hearing statements did nothing to persuade us that her nomination is due to merit and qualifications, rather than the hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign donations she and her family have made.

We oppose DeVos because her confirmation would weaken an agency that’s vitally important to our children’s futures, and confirm that the levers of power within a Trump administration are for sale to the highest bidder.

Two brave Republicans so far have stepped forward to oppose DeVos’s confirmation, with only one more needed for the block. If you have friends or relatives who share a state with a potentially-wavering Republican senator, this would be the time to urge them to make a call to that senator’s office.

Your weekly dispatch:

  1. Don’t Let the Senate Rubber Stamp Trump’s Unfit Cabinet Picks: The Senate will try to confirm several of Trump’s Cabinet picks THIS WEEK. A confirmation vote is scheduled for Betsy DeVos (Education), with additional votes possible for Jeff Sessions (Justice), Tom Price (Health and Human Services), and Steve Mnuchin (Treasury). For reasons ranging from incompetence to well-documented racism, each is unfit to lead any of these agencies. It’s not too late to stop them. Keep visiting your two Senators’ offices to tell them to oppose these nominees!

    Monday, Feb. 6, 2017:
    Procedural votes on nominees are expected on Monday. Continue to ask your Senators to withhold consent on everything until the Muslim ban is lifted.Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017:  
    The confirmation vote for Betsy DeVos will likely happen Tuesday. Two Republicans have announced their opposition—which means we only need to sway one more Republican Senator to stop DeVos from becoming the least qualified Secretary of Education in history. You can stop this confirmation from happening. YOUR Senator could be the one to sink DeVos.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Betsy Devos for Secretary of Education.Remainder of the Week: Possible Action on Several Nominees
    After the Senate considers Betsy DeVos, it will quickly try to confirm the remaining nominees. It is unclear when these votes will happen, but more confirmation votes could begin as early as Wednesday.Jeff Sessions: Sen. Jeff Sessions has a decades-long history of opposing civil rights legislation. He was rejected for a judgeship by the Senate in 1986 for being too racist, and between his attacks on civil rights and his strong anti-immigration stance, he’s just as unfit to be Attorney General today.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

    Tom Price: Rep. Tom Price is a zealous opponent of Obamacare, and his financial conflicts of interest continue to raise doubts about his ethics and judgment.Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    Scott Pruitt: Putting Scott Pruitt—who places private profits ahead of the public good—in charge of the EPA is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Unfortunately, in this case the hens are America’s health and the environment.

    Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Scott Pruitt for EPA Director.

    Steve Mnuchin: Predatory lender Steve Mnuchin is also under fire for failing to disclose millions of dollars in assets and his role as director of an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

    Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury.

  2. Keep standing against the Muslim and refugee ban. Last week, a federal judge—appointed by Republican President G.W. Bush—issued a temporary nationwide injunction on Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban. While this is great news, it is only a temporary halt to the Muslim ban, which Trump continues to fight in court. This isn’t the time for Congress to sit on the sidelines; Congress needs to use its power to defund and rescind the ban.Ask your Senators to continue to withhold consent on all Senate business, and filibuster any legislation until this discriminatory, unconstitutional ban is revoked and justice is restored.Ask your Representative to cosponsor H.R.724, the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) Act, legislation that would rescind and defund Trump’s Muslim ban. We’ve got scripts for these conversations (along with a recording of last week’s emergency planning call) available here.
  3. Tell your Senator “Stop Gorsuch, Don’t Nuke the Senate”: Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. But this isn’t Donald Trump’s vacancy to fill. Early last year, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, a distinguished jurist, to fill this vacancy. Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings, let alone a vote, on Garland’s nomination.Now, they want Gorsuch to receive the consideration Merrick Garland didn’t. What’s more, if Gorsuch can’t get 60 votes, Donald Trump wants Republican leaders to deploy the “nuclear option” and do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. Going nuclear would destroy a critical check and balance in our democracy—we can’t let that happen.
    Call your Senators, tell them you oppose Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and demand they oppose the “nuclear option.”
  4. Tell Congress to put national security over party politics: No Bannon on the National Security Council. President Trump’s decision to remove the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff (actual national security experts) from the National Security Council and instead give a permanent seat to Steve Bannon was an unprecedented politicization of what is supposed to be a nonpartisan body.Call your Senators and ask them to cosponsor S.291 to modify the requirements for membership in the NSC.

    Call your Representative and ask them to cosponsor H.R.804 to prevent political appointees from serving on the NSC.