Biden visit highlights the power of local action on climate
Boston – Today, President Joe Biden visited the site of the former Brayton Point coal-fired power plant in Somerset, MA, a community whose organizing efforts Community Action Works has long supported, to speak about climate change and the transition to clean energy.
At Community Action Works we agree a healthy climate is key to a healthy and safe future for ourselves, our neighbors, our children and our grandchildren.
You may remember that starting in 2006, support from donors like you made it possible for Community Action Works organizers to work alongside Brayton Point community leaders, the Coalition for Clean Air South Coast and Clean Water Action to develop a vision for the responsible retirement and transition of the power plant. Together, we launched a multi-year campaign to close the largest coal-fired plant in New England.
After years of building public support, and making the public’s voice heard through petitions, media engagement, legal action and lobbying, the plant was slated to close in 2017. As part of that work, our coalition commissioned a report, using the funding from a legal settlement with Brayton Point’s prior owner, which showed the energy-generating potential of Brayton Point becoming an onshore transmission site for wind power generated offshore.
Today, Brayton Point is becoming a critical piece of Massachusetts’ offshore wind infrastructure, once again offering evidence that community action works, and that no matter how big the environmental threat, the power of well-organized community groups is stronger.
The backdrop for President Biden’s visit comes as the vast majority of U.S. adults (78%) say they have been personally affected by one or more extreme weather events in the past five years, according to a recent NPR poll. Both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggest that as our planet warms, heat waves, wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, sea level rise, flooding and, ironically, severe cold, are all likely to get worse. Without immediate action to reduce global carbon emissions, we face an even more dire future.
Federal climate legislation may have stalled, but there’s so much we can do at the state level.
For example here in Massachusetts, we can require the owners of large buildings, like offices and apartment buildings, to disclose the amount of energy used in their buildings each year and meet minimum standards for energy efficiency. We can increase requirements for utility companies to supply renewable power from sources like solar and wind, reaching 100% clean electricity statewide by 2035. We can increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads and require new homes to be built fossil-fuel-free.
Our ally, Ben Hellerstein, state director of Environment Massachusetts, who will be joining thepPresident at Brayton Point today, said “The best time to get off of fossil fuels is yesterday, the second best time is today, but no matter what, we’ve got to get it done before the legislative session ends on July 31. Let’s pass a strong climate bill that puts Massachusetts on track to 100% clean energy.”
“We know the power of communities coming together and organizing their neighbors can get us there. Over Community Action Works’ 35 year history we’ve seen the success communities can have. We saw it with Brayton Point; with Connecticut passing a state law retiring the “Sooty Six”; and with ¡Action for a Healthy Holyoke! (Mass.), which helped shut down a coal-fired power plant that polluted the air of a largely Latinx community – and helped replace it with a solar farm,” said Leigh-Anne Cole, Acting Executive Director of Community Action Works.