Report Gives Baker Administration 'C' Grade For Environmental PoliciesPlay
The Baker administration gets a middling C grade for its handling of environmental issues in a report card out Thursday from several environmental groups.
The report card gives state government B-pluses for its policies around energy efficiency, electric vehicles and land conservation, but the Baker administration gets Ds for its pursuit of natural gas pipelines and for its efforts to reduce transportation emissions.
And the groups give the governor's office a C for its budget proposals.
"We spend, amazingly, less than 1 percent of our state budget on environmental protection," George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, told Morning Edition. "In fact, we continue to move in the wrong direction to the point where agencies ... are almost dysfunctional. We can't clean up contaminated sites and build new buildings and create new jobs. We can't protect our rivers. We can't maintain our parks."
Bachrach said Baker hasn't done enough to move the state away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
"When this commonwealth is moving dramatically toward renewable energy, the governor continues to think more gas pipelines are required," he said.
Later on Thursday, Baker announced an array of programs that he said in a statement "will allow for more low-income families in Massachusetts to access more affordable clean energy."
In 2016, Baker signed a bill aimed at ramping up the state's reliance on renewable and alternative sources of energy. At the time, Baker said the legislation represents a "major step towards providing residents and businesses with a cost-effective and reliable clean energy future."
In addition to Bachrach's group, Thursday's report card was prepared by the Charles River Watershed Association, Clean Water Action, the Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and the Massachusetts Sierra Club.
It is the groups' second annual report. They also gave the Baker administration a C last year.
Another report out Thursday has higher marks for Massachusetts.
The publication from the Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists ranks Massachusetts third in the nation when it comes to shifting to clean energy.
The report has high marks for the state's energy efficient standards, the number of clean energy jobs created in Massachusetts and electricity savings through state programs.
Ken Kimmel, president of the union and commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection under former Gov. Deval Patrick, told WBUR's Newscast Unit that state leadership in clean energy is vital during the Trump administration.
"It becomes more and more important for states to show leadership on clean energy and to keep the momentum going," Kimmel said, "and the good news is that states virtually have all the tools they need to do that."
A recent census from The Solar Foundation calculated that Massachusetts had the second-highest number of jobs in solar in 2016, behind only California, and the highest number of solar jobs per capita.
California took the top spot in the Union of Concerned Scientists' clean energy report, followed by Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Hawaii.
Click the audio atop this post for Bob Oakes' full interview with George Bachrach. With reporting by WBUR's Newscast Unit
This article was originally published on April 20, 2017.
This segment aired on April 20, 2017.