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September 2022

A Message from the President of Acadia Center, Daniel Sosland 

The big news on recent climate action is the passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), an ambitious leap by the U.S. towards taking responsible action to reduce climate pollution that is threatening the health and safety of the planet. Colleagues at Energy Innovation conclude the IRA could reduce US emissions in 2030 by 40%, a huge step towards meeting needed emission reductions. IRA’s success will depend upon strong state, regional, and community action to meet and exceed the reductions in emissions needed. Acadia Center is excited by the promise the Inflation Reduction Act offers to states and cities. In this issue of E-News, Acadia Center staff provide insights into the IRA, address concerns that exist around its Environmental Justice implications, and note how vital the work of Acadia Center is in ensuring that implementation of IRA will be directed to have the greatest impact. Public transit in the U.S. is a vital part of our transportation system and an important climate solution but is plagued with a lack of adequate funding so we look at the transit failures in Boston. We cover the latest Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction of emission allowances and respond to one major utility’s position on Renewable Natural Gas – and whether it is “renewable” or “natural.” We are extremely excited to welcome Paola Moncada Tamayo, our new Policy Analyst. We hope you enjoy this edition of Acadia Center’s E-News. 

The Inflation Reduction Act Makes Climate Change History 

by Ben Butterworth and Hank Webster
The Inflation Reduction Act is a monumental piece of climate legislation that was signed into law last month. It contains the largest investment in clean energy ever passed in US history, marking the shift in national attitudes towards climate change. In this article, Acadia Center’s very own Ben Butterworth and Hank Webster will be breaking down what is in this legislation, what it means for consumers, and the opportunities it presents to Acadia Center and the region we serve. For even more information, check out Ben Butterworth’s interview with Maine Public Radio on the IRA here.  

Will the Inflation Reduction Act Meet Environmental Justice Goals? 

by Joy Yakie
Since the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), environmental justice groups have voiced concerns over the ability of this bill to meet equity and environmental justice goals for the most vulnerable communities. It has long been known that communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities unduly bear the burden of pollution and climate disaster. Joy Yakie, Environmental Justice and Outreach Manager, details how the IRA addresses these injustices, and how the federal government has created opportunities for environmental justice organizations to utilize to advance their agenda of equity for overburdened communities. Read Joy's blog here.

Massachusetts Public Transportation Shutdowns Highlight MBTA’s Persistent Mismanagement 

by Kyle Murray
Chronic understaffing, underprioritized safety management, and deficient oversight are just three of the twenty-four identified findings in the Federal Transit Authority inspection report of the MBTA in Massachusetts earlier this year. These findings point to a reality many in Massachusetts are all too aware of: there has been a critical and costly mismanagement of the MBTA for several years. Kyle Murray, Massachusetts Senior Policy Advocate, details the many shortcomings of the current transportation and infrastructure system in Massachusetts, and what can be done to improve these systems and reduce their impact on the climate. 

RGGI Auction Generates $301 Million for Clean Energy

by Paola Tamayo

The 57th annual Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) emissions allowance auction took place in Boston, MA. This auction generated $301 million for clean energy investments in the participating states. Since this program launched, most of the proceeds have gone to energy efficiency and clean energy projects. It is crucial that the projects being supported by the proceeds of this auction understand the need for environmental justice considerations. Acadia Center remains integrally involved in RGGI policy conversations and will continue to push for equity and environmental justice considerations to be heard in those discussions.  Read more here.

Hydrogen Isn't the Clean Energy Heating Solution Some Say it is

by Kyle Murray

In his response to National Grid New England President Stephen Woerner, Kyle Murray lays out the dangers of using hydrogen as a heating source. National Grid has stated that hydrogen is both safe and effective for residential and commercial heating, but this is far from the truth. Acadia Center believes that hydrogen plays an important, but limited role in only the hardest-to-electrify sectors of the economy. We should be turning to clean energy sources to heat our homes, like heat pumps, not hydrogen. Saving green hydrogen and “renewable natural gas” for limited purposes in hard-to-electrify sectors, and electrifying buildings quickly with highly efficient systems is the clean energy solution our region needs.  Read the OpEd here.

Acadia Center Welcomes Paola Tamayo 

Acadia Center is pleased to introduce our new policy analyst Paola Tamayo.  She supports the goals of Acadia Center by undertaking data analysis and research work. She is an engineer and urban planner who is passionate about fostering more equitable, sustainable, and inclusive cities. Before joining Acadia Center, Paola worked as a Transportation Engineer at AECOM, focusing on air quality modeling and emission reduction initiatives. While at AECOM, she worked on diverse projects serving city and state governments across the United States, such as calculating the emissions benefits of electric-vehicle adoption for Los Angeles and New Jersey. She has also held prior positions with the Inter-American Development Bank in Honduras, the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation, and Schnabel Foundation Company in Atlanta. Paola holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Master of Urban Planning from NYU. 
Why electricity prices are rising unevenly across New England
Ben Butterworth, Director: Climate, Energy & Equity Analysis, quoted in WBUR News
High bills, blackout risks: Grave winter energy forecasts drawing lines across New England
Melissa Birchard, Director: Clean Energy & Grid Transition, quoted in The Providence Journal
Maine court finds part of referendum blocking transmission line to Massachusetts unconstitutional
Daniel Sosland, President, quoted in The Boston Globe
How to decarbonize your home, with help from the Inflation Reduction Act
Ben Butterworth, Director: Climate, Energy and Equity Analysis (CLEAN-E), quoted in The Boston Globe
Electric vehicle incentives are getting a total makeover
Kyle Murray, Massachusetts Senior Policy Advocate, quoted in The Boston Globe
RIPTA introduces new electric bus
Hank Webster, Senior Policy Advocate & Rhode Island Director, quoted in The Providence Journal
‘Electrify Arlington’ in step with new climate law
Amy Boyd, Vice President, Climate & Clean Energy Policy, quoted in Your Arlington
Ten cities and towns are poised to ban fossil fuels from new buildings
Amy Boyd, Vice President, Climate & Clean Energy Policy, quoted in The Boston Globe
Baker signs major climate bill into law
Amy Boyd, Vice President, Climate & Clean Energy Policy, quoted in The Boston Globe
R.I.’s New Heat Pump Program Offers Incentives to Install Energy-Efficient Systems
Hank Webster, Senior Policy Advocate & Rhode Island Director, quoted in ecoRI
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