Massachusetts eyeing more renewable energy-friendly future
BOSTON (AP) — With steps big and small, Massachusetts is moving toward a more environmentally friendly future in which the state will rely increasingly on renewable energy.
One step came this week when Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced more than $500,000 in funding for what he described as eight “early-stage clean energy companies.”
The checks may be modest, but the goal is to help ensure Massachusetts remains among those states on the leading edge of renewable energy technology — in part by harvesting the brain power of local universities and entrepreneurs.
Among the companies receiving money are:
— Somerville-based Cambridge Crops, which is developing an edible odorless, tasteless and invisible coating to extend the shelf life of meat and poultry while also reducing the water and energy resources lost to spoilage and waste;
— Amesbury-based INRoof Solar, which is working to integrate a space-cooling feature into its solar thermal metal roofing system by removing waste heat to provide air conditioning, and;
— Somerville’s Exact Lux, which is developing long-lasting LED lighting for indoor horticulture to increase yields and save energy.
Baker said the eight companies are part of the state’s “nation-leading innovation and clean energy economies.”
Environmental activists are also pushing a slew of bills on Beacon Hill aimed at reducing the state’s carbon footprint and minimizing waste.
One bill sponsored by Stoneham Democratic state Rep. Michael Day seeks to help save taxpayer dollars spent trying to recycle what the Conservation Law Foundation describes as wasteful packaging. The group said communities have little control over the flood of disposable items and have had to pick up the cost of recycling that material that they say can run to tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
The bill would shift some of those recycling costs back onto the companies that create the packaging.
Another piece of legislation supported by the Conservation Law Foundation would require all large-scale fleets of vehicles in Massachusetts — public and private — to go electric by 2035.
The group said that transportation is already responsible for nearly half of Massachusetts’ climate-damaging emissions and electrifying massive fleets of cars, buses and trucks is a key step in cutting those emissions — along with harmful air pollution.
Another bill at the Statehouse would update appliance efficiency standards on more than a dozen products, including commercial dishwashers, commercial fryers, water coolers and faucets.
The advocacy group Environment Massachusetts is backing the legislation as part of a nine-state push that includes efforts in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
The group said the proposed standard would prevent 159,000 metric tons of climate-altering carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere — the equivalent of taking over 34,500 cars off the road each year — while also limiting pollution from nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.
The bills are just some of the thousands that have been filed at the beginning of the Legislature’s two-year session. The vast majority do not end up becoming law.
Meanwhile, federal overseers held a series of public hearings this week on the construction and operations plan for Vineyard Wind, a proposed 84-turbine wind power project off the coast of Massachusetts.
On a longer timeframe, a bill introduced by Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and Michigan U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell — both Democrats — proposed creating a program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve “climate literacy” among educators and other professionals.
Markey said too many teachers in middle and high school don’t understand the scientific consensus on climate change.
“This bill will help provide our students, teachers, and workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to understand climate change and participate in a global clean energy economy,” Markey said in a statement.
The bill is co-sponsored in the Senate by more than a dozen Democrats — several of whom are eyeing the White House next year.