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Mass. Climate Change Undersecretary Resigns After Comments Come Under Fire

Undersecretary of climate change David Ismay. (State House News Service)
Undersecretary of climate change David Ismay. (State House News Service)

A top Baker administration official resigned his post Thursday night after coming under fire for comments he made about pushing consumers to reduce their carbon emissions.

In a letter to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, which he said was effective immediately and would serve as his only public statement on the topic, undersecretary of climate change David Ismay said he was leaving the job "with great regret."

In the letter, Ismay apologized for remarks he made at a January Vermont Climate Council meeting.

"My inability to clearly communicate during that discussion reflected poorly on the Governor, on you, and on our hardworking staff," he wrote. "Although my comments were interpreted by some as placing the burden of climate change on hardworking families and vulnerable populations, my intent was the opposite. In the entirety of my remarks, and as I have elsewhere, I was urging caution in order to minimize such impacts out of a sincere concern that overly aggressive emissions targets may have unintended and harmful consequences on those we most need to protect."

A video clip of the Vermont event, posted by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, shows Ismay saying that 60% of the state's emissions come from residential heating and passenger vehicles, or "you, the person [inaudible] the street, the senior on fixed income."

"There is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts, to point the finger at, turn the screws on, and break their will so they stop emitting," he said in the video. "That's you, we have to break your will, right. I can't even say that publicly."

After the video began to circulate, Gov. Charlie Baker said that no one in his administration "should ever say or think anything like that," and a group of eight state lawmakers called for Baker to dismiss Ismay from the administration.

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