On Wednesday, February 6, 2019, Governor Charlie Baker testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington, D.C. to discuss what Massachusetts is doing to address climate change at the first congressional hearing on climate change in over eight years. He shared the Commonwealth’s bipartisan record of addressing climate change, urging Washington to work across all levels of government in a similar fashion and highlighted some of the Baker-Polito Administration’s bipartisan initiatives and cost-effective projects put in place to prepare for the effects of a changing climate and to promote renewable energy.
Here is a transcript of Governor Baker’s testimony:
“Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop, and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today on the approach Massachusetts has taken to the very real challenge of climate change.
“In Massachusetts, climate change is not a partisan issue – while we sometimes disagree on specific policies, we understand the science and know the impacts are real because we are experiencing them first-hand.
“The magnitude of the impacts from climate change requires all of us – at the federal, state and local levels – to put politics aside and work together. That is the path we have taken in Massachusetts.
“Based on our experience in Massachusetts, I would like to share four themes I believe will help further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resiliency across the country.
“First, states and local communities need support from the federal government. Many federal incentives are only available after a disaster occurs; incentives similar to our MVP program would help communities address resiliency issues before the next disaster. Expanding programs like FEMA’s new resilient infrastructure grants and increasing funding available to states would accelerate existing efforts and galvanize new ones.
“Second, we need strong federal leadership and a bold bipartisan vision on climate change that prioritizes practical, market-driven and cost-effective solutions, while affording states the flexibility to design strategies that work for their unique challenges.
“We believe it is essential to establish federal targets for emissions reductions that can vary by state or region. In our state’s experience, setting an aggressive target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions provides the foundation for clean energy policy, sends a clear signal to industry, and enables long-range planning.
“Third, strong federal leadership should also include making impactful investments in research around both emission reductions and climate change adaptation. Federal research and development gave us the Internet and GPS – technologies that changed our lives forever. I believe the federal government could bring its resources to bear on developing the next breakthrough battery cell or other technological advances that could help dramatically reduce emissions and radically transform our energy future.
“Fourth, the federal government should incorporate climate risk and resilience in future federal spending and planning decisions to ensure taxpayer dollars are used wisely. Our own Boston Harbor Islands, managed through a partnership between state and federal government and a non-profit, are already threatened by sea level rise and storm surge.
“Governors around the country are seeing and responding to the effects of climate change in our states and communities. This is not a challenge any one of us can solve alone; we need collective action from federal, state and local governments, working with the private sector, to aggressively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes that are already in motion. I thank the committee for the invitation to speak, and I thank my colleague Governor Cooper.
“I have submitted written testimony which goes into more detail. I look forward to working together on this challenge and am happy to answer any questions from the committee.”