Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Protect the Environment (2013)

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As adopted by the members on January 26, 2013.

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

Whereas, thanks in great part to the leadership of cities and towns, Massachusetts is now ranked number one in the nation in energy efficiency and ranked second for solar energy generation; and

Whereas, more than 100 municipalities have become Green Communities and 340 municipalities host renewable facilities, producing more than 220 megawatts of power, a 50-fold increase in the past five years, with a greater increase in 2011 than ever in the history of Massachusetts; and

Whereas, the dramatic increase in locally based and locally supported renewable energy facilities has occurred under existing property tax laws that enable cities and towns to appropriately collect revenues from private developers and protect the interests of local taxpayers; and

Whereas, communities, working with the residents, nonprofit institutions, land trusts and state agencies, have protected more than 1 million acres of open space, surpassing developed land for the first time in Massachusetts history; and

Whereas, during this past legislative session, Massachusetts cities and towns led the fight to pass legislation to limit nutrients in fertilizers, to enhance the Community Preservation Act, and to update the Green Communities Act so that Massachusetts can continue to lead the nation in protecting our environment; and

Whereas, in spite of this demonstrated progress, the federal government has imposed additional costly environmental regulatory requirements, based on incomplete scientific analysis and review, on the cities and towns of Massachusetts without any additional appropriations; and

Whereas, the federal fiscal 2012 budget cut approximately $100 million from Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Act appropriations, and the fiscal 2013 House Interior Committee proposal would impose a further 40 percent cut of $866 million, which would threaten our residents’ access to clean water and add to the already significant backlog of safe drinking water infrastructure projects and imperil the proven job creation that these investments would bring; and

Whereas, the Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission has estimated a $20.4 billion gap needed for water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years, in addition to an $18 billion deficit to meet proposed federal stormwater regulations; and

Whereas, the cities and towns of Massachusetts cannot continue to absorb these and additional unfunded mandates and the corresponding workload imposed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government without reimbursement or relief, as these state and federal unfunded mandates undermine the ability of municipal officials to adequately safeguard the environment and maintain current services and programs;

Therefore, it is hereby resolved by the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as follows:

• The state Legislature, the Governor, the Commonwealth’s administrative agencies, the U.S. Congress, the President, and federal agencies must commit to a cooperative partnership with municipalities and should reject all proposals and policies that would undermine this partnership, either by imposing unfunded mandates or preempting municipal taxing authority in any way; and

• The state Legislature should pass legislation requiring the Executive Branch and the Legislature to provide a fiscal note as part of any proposal in order to clearly explain the benefits and costs imposed on municipal government and local taxpayers as a result of such legislation or regulation, including staff necessary to administer or implement said legislation or regulation and the benefits to be derived through such expenditure; and

• In the event there is a cost identified in a fiscal note, the Legislature or executive agency should refrain from enacting any legislative proposal or regulation until such time as an appropriation matching that amount is provided both initially and annually thereafter, or the enacted or promulgated proposal shall cease to have authority; and

• The Governor and the Legislature should approve a multi-year environmental 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; and

• With more than 3,000 dams in Massachusetts, most in disrepair, causing untold environmental damage, the state must pass dam removal and repair legislation to restore our fish and aquatic habitat, assist communities as they seek to protect the health and safety of their residents, and reduce the costs of complying with the federal phosphorus reduction mandates; and

• The Administration should immediately allocate the $25 million Drinking Water Quality Act Authorization as passed in the 2008 Massachusetts Environmental Bond Act; and

• The U.S. Congress and the President should, at a minimum, restore funding for the Drinking Water and Clean Water state revolving fund programs to the fiscal 2010 level of $1.38 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively, in the fiscal 2013 Interior Appropriations Bill; and

• With the coastal waters and estuaries of Massachusetts threatened by pollution and sea-level rise, the state and federal government must work with coastal communities to provide more funding and expertise to help mitigate the aforementioned issues; and

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution shall be presented to the Governor, the members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, and the President of the United States on behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth.