Proposed Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Combat the Effects of Climate Change (2018)

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Whereas, climate change presents a serious threat to the environment and to the health and public safety of our communities in Massachusetts and around the world, and is having serious impacts on the Commonwealth’s neighborhoods, residents, environment and economy as extreme weather events become more frequent and municipalities experience sea level rise, coastal erosion, powerful storms, damaging flooding, extreme temperatures and related environmental impacts; and
Whereas, the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement commits countries to setting goals and targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions by using green energy sources to limit the rise of global temperatures, and Executive Order 569, Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth, directs the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security to coordinate efforts across the Commonwealth to strengthen the resilience of our communities, prepare for the impacts of climate change, and prepare for and mitigate damage from extreme weather events; and
Whereas, the cities and towns of Massachusetts are national leaders as environmental stewards, embracing renewable energy technology, protecting and preserving land and natural resources, and providing safe, clean and affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater management systems, and an overwhelming majority of Americans support local action on climate change; and
Whereas, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and using clean and renewable energy can help to mitigate the effects of climate change, and municipalities have been essential in helping the Commonwealth meet its energy goals and have committed to ambitious goals to reduce energy consumption and emissions through the Green Communities program, contributing to Massachusetts’ position as a nationwide leader in energy efficiency; and
Whereas, communities must adapt to the impacts of climate change, identify hazards and vulnerabilities, and take steps to increase preparedness and resiliency; and
Whereas, communities must work together with regional, state and federal partners to be prepared for climate change related disasters, invest in resilient infrastructure, and increase the use of renewable energy;
Therefore, it is hereby resolved that the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association support the following essential policy positions to ensure a strong local, state and federal partnership to combat the effects of climate change:
• The state should uphold its commitment to meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement and should work with local officials to develop plans for municipalities to take steps to reduce emissions in conjunction with the state’s goals, and municipalities should participate in national and international coalitions with other governmental, business and environmental leaders to combat climate change; and
• The state should provide additional opportunities for municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency through programs and grants, and the state Legislature and the governor should develop a balanced, long-term energy plan with a range of renewable energy sources to ensure a sustainable energy supply for residents, businesses and communities; and
• The state should eliminate the net metering cap on renewable projects to ensure that municipalities are not delayed in moving forward with future municipal projects, should grandfather the use of current utility rate classes for existing renewable energy systems, and should oppose any reductions in the rate of net metering credits for municipal projects and any added surcharges and fees imposed by utilities which could affect savings; and
• The state should enhance funding for the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure while also investing in strategies for the greening of municipal fleets; and
• The state and federal governments should provide enhanced funding, grant opportunities and technical assistance to communities to enable the development and implementation of climate adaptation plans to assess vulnerabilities and work to upgrade environmental, transportation and energy infrastructure to increase resiliency; and
• The state Legislature and the governor should approve a $1 billion water infrastructure bond bill to fund water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements and grant authority to cities and towns to establish drinking water, stormwater and sewer infrastructure banks to build, repair and maintain water-related infrastructure systems, which will allow communities to upgrade infrastructure and increase resiliency; and
• Municipalities should review local planning and zoning bylaws and ordinances to make changes to increase resiliency, and the state should provide technical assistance and information sharing for communities; and
• The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency should work closely with communities to develop plans for extreme weather events and should provide resources and assistance to communities to ensure adequate preparation for these events; and
It is further resolved that a copy of this resolution shall be presented to the governor, the members of the General Court of the Commonwealth, the members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, and the president of the United States.