Senate Candidates Debate On The Environment

Boston University hosted a debate on Tuesday of the U.S. Senate candidates about the environment and the "green" economy. The forum, sponsored by the Environmental League of Massachusetts, wasn't very well attended.

There were about 200 people there, as compared with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization forum Sunday night, where more than 800 people attended.

(Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)
(Monica Brady-Myerov/WBUR)

But maybe the low attendance is due to the fact that this forum is in the middle of the day, or maybe because the subject is not even in the top three concerns of voters. The top concerns are the economy, health care and the war in Afghanistan.

The first question was, of course, about Cape Wind, a project the late Sen. Ted Kennedy vehemently opposed. The candidates were asked: Should the federal government be able to overrule local opposition to clean energy projects?

Congressman Michael Capuano said the federal government should stay out of it because he believes in environmental justice. He said if you take away local control, the large wind farms will end up in the backyards of the poorest communities.

City Year co-founder Alan Khazei said he disagrees. The federal government should be allowed to overrule local opposition so that more projects can come online quickly.

A panel of three journalists, including WBUR's health and science reporter Sasha Pfeiffer, were asking the questions. Pfeiffer asked what the candidates would do to keep companies like Evergreen Solar in the state.

Evergreen was given a large state subsidy to build a plant in Massachusetts, but recently announced its moving many of the jobs to China.

Businessman Stephen Pagluica said they company is moving jobs because we haven't invested in the infrastructure needed for clean jobs. He said any subsidies should have been given with a guarantee the company stay for a period of time.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said we've learned lessons from Evergreen Solar. She said we need to structure the deals so that companies can't take government money and then leave.

This program aired on November 17, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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