The Senate’s point person on climate change legislation said he doesn’t know where Gov. Charlie Baker came up with his estimate that the Legislature’s target for emissions reductions in 2030 would cost state residents an extra $6 billion.
“Boy, would I like to know,” said Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington. “I have never – and I am familiar with all of the written documents the administration has released on this topic – I had never seen that $6 billion figure until [Thursday]. I wonder if the governor had ever seen the $6 billion figure until [Thursday].”
In his letter vetoing the Legislature’s climate change bill, Baker said the difference between a 45 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels versus a 50 percent reduction was $6 billion in extra costs incurred by Massachusetts residents. “Unfortunately, this higher cost does not materially increase the Commonwealth’s ability to achieve its long-term climate goals,” the letter said.
A spokesman for the Baker administration wasn’t able to produce the analysis yielding the $6 billion figure on Friday but promised more information this week.
Barrett, appearing on The Codcast with Bradley Campbell, the president of the Conservation Law Foundation, said he has asked repeatedly for information on the $6 billion figure and never received it.
“I can’t wait to see the economic study that buttresses that claim because it will be unlike any economic study I’ve ever read,” he said. “These figures to some extent are arbitrary. Neither figure [45 percent or 50 percent] is supported by modeling. Both are judgment calls.”
Campbell said the governor’s reputation for addressing climate change will take a hit because of his veto of the Legislature’s bill. He said trying to estimate the future costs of addressing climate change is difficult and estimates are typically way too high. He said Baker’s veto wastes valuable time and suggests the governor still believes addressing climate change comes at the expense of the economy.
As for the governor’s veto letter, Campbell said he was not convinced. “It really was a cobbled-together collection of politically tinged arguments rather than substantive objections that the Legislature could have addressed,” he said. “In some cases, they were objections the Legislature did address.”
Barrett felt similarly. “I assume the governor didn’t write it himself, that it was a staff workup,” he said. “I could not extract from it a coherent, well-constructed case against anything currently in the Senate bill.”
The senator said no studies, data, or statistics were cited for why the Legislature’s bill would have hindered the development of new housing, one of the governor’s claims. Barrett also said the stretch energy code developers objected to in the Legislature’s bill —and which Baker cited in his veto letter — was something the Baker administration included in its own climate roadmap.
The climate change bill reached Baker’s desk on the next-to-last day of the legislative session, which meant the governor was forced to either sign it or veto it. But Barrett said the administration was given plenty of opportunity to raise concerns about what was in the bill over the past year, but said little or nothing.
“It is so exasperating to have the governor wax indignant about not having a seat at the table when I had given his people a seat at the table and, due to their own choices, the seat had remained empty,” he said.
Barrett said he suspects the rigid requirements of the bill – setting five-year targets for emissions reductions with specific goals in industry sectors – prompted the veto because those requirements require action now and not in the distant future.
“We are not due for the next check-in on whether we’re reducing emissions as we must until the year 2030,” Barrett said. “That is upsetting a lot of people, so we are trying to bring the timelines closer to the current era, the current Legislature, and – quite candidly, and I think this has been a point of contention with the Baker people – the current governor. We want Massachusetts having to meet five-year limits or goals.”
Legislative leaders say they plan to bring the bill the governor vetoed to another vote in both branches and send it back to the governor for a second time. Barrett said what will emerge during the legislative process is unclear.
“There are no guarantees in do-overs,” Barrett said. “While I’m guardedly optimistic, the truth is this could go south in some way that we can’t anticipate. The governor has put us in peril here. The speaker and the Senate president are determined to rescue us. Let’s hope this goes well.”
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Gov. Charlie Baker vetoes key policy initiatives in a transportation bond bill, including new fees on Uber and Lyft rides, means-tested fares, and a prohibition on raising fares to help pay for the I-90 Allston interchange project.
Opinion: Craig Altemose debunks Baker’s six reasons for his veto of the climate change bill. … Susan Sered and Erin Braatz say it would be a mistake to build a new women’s prison. … Bithian Carter of New England Blacks in Philanthropy asks what are you going to do after the insurrection in Washington. … Paul DeBole offers a series of questions to ask and options to consider in the wake of the attack on the Capitol building.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
Two state employees — both at the University of Massachusetts Medical School — earned more than $1 million last year, while the third highest-paid state employee was the UMass Amherst basketball coach, who was paid $850,000. (Boston Globe)
Paul Levy, whose background includes stints as CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, executive director of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and chair of the Department of Public Utilities, launches a campaign for the Newton School Committee.
Extremist Trump supporters on Cape Cod aren’t going away, say experts. (Cape Cod Times)
The Chicopee City Council may move its meetings out of City Council chambers because the technology is so bad there that both councilors and the public are having trouble staying connected remotely. (MassLive)
Massachusetts detects the first case of the more contagious COVID-19 variant. (Associated Press)
Visiting nurses, many of whom are providing care inside the homes of COVID-19 positive patients, have been moved into the first phase of vaccinations. (GBH)
Many Massachusetts residents remain hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, citing safety concerns. (Telegram & Gazette)
The Department of Public Health reverses its mandate that all students get a flu shot this year. (MassLive)
Massachusetts will consider smoking a condition that makes someone high-risk for COVID-19, and will let smokers move up in the priority line for getting the vaccine. (MassLive)
Gillette Stadium opens Monday as a mass vaccination site for first responders. (MassLive)
The Globe takes a look at the expectations and challenges awaiting Marty Walsh as US labor secretary.
President-elect Joe Biden taps Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s transgender health secretary, as his assistant secretary of health. (19th News)
Massachusetts’s members of Congress plan to attend Biden’s inauguration, but several say they will not bring guests due to security concerns. (Salem News)
US Rep. Jim McGovern, in an interview with the Telegram & Gazette, reflects on the “surreal” nature of the last few weeks in Washington.
The Pentagon is stepping up efforts to root out far-right extremism in the military after the FBI identified at least six people with ties to the military ties as suspects in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. (New York Times)
Trump fan boy Howie Carr offers a farewell valentine to the president he fawned over, listing all the things he thanks him for — including three tweets plugging Carr’s book (two more, Carr notes gleefully, than Trump’s own son got for his book). (Boston Herald)
Trump’s four-year reign, marked by “constant chaos, corruption and scandal,” is a tenure that “numerous scholars predict is destined to rank him among America’s worst presidents.” (Washington Post)
There are some echoes of 1993 in the unfolding race for mayor of Boston. (Boston Globe)
A ballot question scheduled to go into effect next year that would ban the sale of food from cage-confined farm animals will cause food prices to rise, food industry advocates are saying. (Salem News)
Is Moderna’s soaring stock price too much of a good thing? (Boston Globe)
Despite the recession, the real estate market remains strong, with surging sales of single-family homes. (Telegram & Gazette)
A new Taunton-based marijuana delivery company hopes to focus on helping veterans cope with PTSD through the use of cannabis. (MassLive)
A new report shows incidents of sexual assault were down at Central Massachusetts colleges in 2019. (Telegram & Gazette)
New rules go into effect requiring schools to provide more live instruction and requiring students to check in with school each day. (MassLive)
Gov. Charlie Baker’s climate plan assumes a future with lots of driving — in electric cars rather than gasoline-powered vehicles. (Streetsblog)
The MBTA will relocate idling trains from West Gloucester to Manchester to address continuing noise complaints by neighbors. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Citizens for Limited Taxation and other groups are urging other Northeast states not to join the Transportation Climate Initiative. (Boston Herald)
Vineyard Wind, whose bid to upgrade to giant turbines was derailed by the Trump administration, is hoping Biden will look more favorably on the project. (WBUR)
Under the new police reform law, people with more than one charge on their criminal record related to a single arrest will now be eligible to have their record expunged. (Eagle-Tribune)
A nurse receives a job offer from Boston Children’s Hospital, but it is rescinded after the woman’s stalker posts negative things about her online. The SJC will decide whether this is legal under a state law meant to protect abuse victims. (Salem News)
Headed to court: Does the mayor or the City Council control the police department in Springfield? (WBUR)
A student at the Codman Academy Charter Public School was fatally shot in Dorchester Friday night and his body was driven to Quincy. (Dorchester Reporter)
Sharon Begley, an acclaimed science journalist who made a major mark at Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal before joining the Boston Globe Media startup STAT, died at 64. (STAT)
Charles Salisbury, who served as North Andover’s town moderator for more than 20 years and held several other volunteer positions in local government, died at 78. (Eagle-Tribune)
Phil Spector, famed music producer — and convicted murderer — dead at 81. (Associated Press)
Master Sgt. Scott W. Blais, an Air Force Reserve citizen airman from East Longmeadow, died at 47 from natural causes while on a training mission in Hawaii. (MassLive)