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Air quality alerts due to Canadian wildfire smoke remain in effect today for western Massachusetts, but the National Weather Service says we should see some improvement as the plume “gets shunted southward.” State data shows the air quality right now is good to moderate in the eastern half of the state — a far cry from the eerie conditions places like New York saw yesterday (not to mention the volcanic smog Hawaii is dealing with).
Here’s a tip sheet for staying safe if and when smoke conditions worsen again. For now, let’s look at a different kind of air problem:
What does the SouthCoast Wind project’s recent move to pull out of its contract mean for Massachusetts’ climate goals? State Sen. Michael Barrett told WBUR’s Dave Faneuf the offshore wind farm developer’s effort to renegotiate for more money will slow down the state’s massive shift to cleaner electricity — but not significantly so. "The delay in generating offshore wind is going to put the 2025 and 2030 emissions limits for electric power in some jeopardy, but only for a year or two,” Barrett said, adding that he hopes to see the state “hit those limits and more” soon after.
- Give me some context: The SouthCoast Wind wind farm, which had planned to come online in 2028, accounts for 1,200 of the 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind power procured so far by Massachusetts. (The goal is to hit 5,600 by 2027.) However, it’s also the second big project to pull out of its contract due to rising costs, following 1,200-megawatt Commonwealth Wind last fall.
- Why are costs up? Inflation, supply chain disruptions, steel prices, rising interest rates. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser has more here on the challenges facing the industry.
- What’s next: The developers of both projects are now slated to rebid for new contracts next year. (State officials have also eased the rules in hopes of giving developers more price flexibility.)
- “Steel in the water”: At least one Massachusetts offshore wind project is moving forward. After resolving a dispute with local unions, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind said Wednesday it has begun installing the first of 62 ocean turbine foundations.
Gov. Maura Healey’s administration is extending a pause on logging contracts in state forests for another six months, as officials consider new guidelines aimed at conserving woods. The “Forests as Climate Solutions” initiative aims to ensure state forests are “managed to optimize carbon sequestration and mitigate climate harms.”
- Following through: During her gubernatorial campaign, Healey promised a temporary moratorium on logging in state forests, and the state hasn’t signed any new contracts since she took office.
- Loggers aren’t happy about it. Chris Egan, the head of Massachusetts Forest Alliance, told New England Public Media the delay could wipe out “30% of your business for a year.”
- What’s next: The Healey administration says it will begin signing contracts again as soon as December — after new forestry guidelines are drafted, put up for public comment and finalized.
Boston police released more details yesterday on the car crash involving a cruiser carrying Mayor Michelle Wu. WBUR’s Walter Wuthmann reports Wu talked of minor pain at the scene, but declined medical attention and went on to speak at a school press conference.
- Why did Wu’s car have its lights and sirens activated at the time? That part is still unclear. (Wu told reporters they weren’t headed to an emergency.) Police are still investigating whether the officer driving the car broke any department rules.
Late Nights at the Library: The JFK Library & Museum is staying open into the evening on several Wednesdays this summer, offering the public the rare chance to visit at night for free.
- The Dorchester museum is extending its hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on June 21, July 10, August 9 and August 16. Not only will admission be free during those hours, but most nights will have special programming with trivia or music, as well as food and drinks. You can check out the lineup and RSVP here.
P.S.— Today’s the deadline to hit our June fundraising goal of 700 new members — and we still have a ways to go to reach it. Will you help us get over the top? If you rely on this newsletter, please consider becoming a monthly donor. We wouldn’t be here without you and your support!