Incorruptible Massachusetts

Sierra Club & 350 Mass: Can Massachusetts lead in climate policy?

December 10, 2019 Season 2 Episode 2
Incorruptible Massachusetts
Sierra Club & 350 Mass: Can Massachusetts lead in climate policy?
Chapters
Incorruptible Massachusetts
Sierra Club & 350 Mass: Can Massachusetts lead in climate policy?
Dec 10, 2019 Season 2 Episode 2
Jacob Stern, Craig Altemose, Anna Callahan

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Craig Altemose from 350 MA and Jacob Stern from the Sierra club.

Jacob Stern has served as a statewide organizer for the Massachusetts’s Sierra Club and liaison to the Mass Power Forward coalition since 2017. He manages several of the clean energy campaigns and the Chapter’s political endorsement process. 

Craig Altemose co-founded 350 Mass for a Better Future in 2011 and has served as its Executive Director since that time. Before starting BFP, he co-founded and led Students for a Just and Stable Future, a statewide student network that engaged students at over fifteen Massachusetts universities on climate policy.

What a pleasure to talk to these leaders in the environmental movement.  The environment has been one of my core issues since college — I was a zero-waster back in the 90s before it was cool, before it had a name.  I’m glad it’s finally getting the attention it deserves, although of course not in political circles.  At the state level, small incremental changes are being proposed, but none of the sweeping changes that are necessary.  So I was very excited to hear that these powerful environmental groups are working with a coalition that centers communities of color and labor unions as equal partners in crafting the policy details of a robust, visionary GND for Massachusetts, which they hope will be completed about a year from now.

These organizations also have a healthy attitude toward leadership in the House — they understand that one of their main roles is to build the movement outside the building.  They do have 501.c.4 arms that endorse candidates, and they also work to pressure elected officials by calling out the ones who need to be called out, and working with those who are pushing environmental legislation.  You’ll hear them talk about policy, coalitions, and how we get from where we are to a Massachusetts committed to a habitable planet.

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Sierra Club and 350 MA.

Show Notes Transcript

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Craig Altemose from 350 MA and Jacob Stern from the Sierra club.

Jacob Stern has served as a statewide organizer for the Massachusetts’s Sierra Club and liaison to the Mass Power Forward coalition since 2017. He manages several of the clean energy campaigns and the Chapter’s political endorsement process. 

Craig Altemose co-founded 350 Mass for a Better Future in 2011 and has served as its Executive Director since that time. Before starting BFP, he co-founded and led Students for a Just and Stable Future, a statewide student network that engaged students at over fifteen Massachusetts universities on climate policy.

What a pleasure to talk to these leaders in the environmental movement.  The environment has been one of my core issues since college — I was a zero-waster back in the 90s before it was cool, before it had a name.  I’m glad it’s finally getting the attention it deserves, although of course not in political circles.  At the state level, small incremental changes are being proposed, but none of the sweeping changes that are necessary.  So I was very excited to hear that these powerful environmental groups are working with a coalition that centers communities of color and labor unions as equal partners in crafting the policy details of a robust, visionary GND for Massachusetts, which they hope will be completed about a year from now.

These organizations also have a healthy attitude toward leadership in the House — they understand that one of their main roles is to build the movement outside the building.  They do have 501.c.4 arms that endorse candidates, and they also work to pressure elected officials by calling out the ones who need to be called out, and working with those who are pushing environmental legislation.  You’ll hear them talk about policy, coalitions, and how we get from where we are to a Massachusetts committed to a habitable planet.

Without further ado, here is my conversation with Sierra Club and 350 MA.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/incorruptible_massachusetts)

Anna Callahan:
00:02
Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you're listening to incorruptible Massachusetts. Our goal is to help people understand state politics were investigating why it's so broken, imagining what we can have here in Massachusetts if we fixed it and reporting on how you can get involved. Today I'm interviewing Craig Altimose from 350 Mass. And Jacob Stern from the Sierra Club. Jacob Stern has served as a statewide organizer for Massachusetts Sierra Club and liaison to the mass power forward coalition since 2017. He manages several of the clean energy campaigns and the chapters political endorsement Process. Craig Altimose co-founded 350 Mass. For a Better Future in 2011 and has served as its executive director since that time. Before starting it, he co-founded and led Students for a Just and Stable Future, a statewide student network that engage students at over 15 Massachusetts universities on climate policy.  
Anna Callahan:
01:02
What a pleasure to talk to these leaders in the environmental movement. The environment has been one of my core issues since college. I was a zero waster back in the nineties before it was cool and before it had a name. I'm glad it's finally getting the attention it deserves, although, of course not. In political circles at the state level, small, incremental changes are being proposed, but none of the sweeping changes that are necessary. So I was very excited to hear that these powerful environmental groups are working with a coalition that centers communities of color and labor unions as equal partners in crafting the policy details of a robust, visionary green new deal for Massachusetts, which they hope will be completed about a year from now. These organizations also have a healthy attitude toward leadership in the House. They understand that one of their main roles is to build the movement outside the building. They do have 501. arms that endorse candidates, and they also work to pressure elected officials by calling out the ones who need to be called out and working with those who are pushing environmental legislation. You'll hear them talk about policy coalitions and how we get from where we are to a Massachusetts committed to a habitable planet and without further ado. Here is my conversation with Sierra Club and 3 50 Mass. Hey there, I have the great pleasure of being here with Jacob Stern from Sierra Club and Craig Ultimos from 3 50 minutes. Thanks for coming.
Craig Altemose:
02:27
Thanks for having us. It'sgreat to be here.
Anna Callahan:
02:30
We're gonna talk about environmental legislation at the state level. What we could have here Massachusetts. So first I would love it if each of you would just go ahead and let us know a little bit about your organization and what your mission is.
Anna Callahan:
02:45
350 Massachusetts is a statewide volunteer led Climate Action Network. Here in Massachusetts, we have 17 chapters and six affiliates around the state. So from the Berkshires to the cape from North Shore to the south Coast, who meet together every two weeks or once a month in their communities to figure out how to advance local, changing their musicality as well. A statewide change together. And, you know, we also dabble in federal politics. The extent that is, that level of action is on the table for us, which is minimally at the moment. Unfortunately, um, yeah. So you know, we've we've helped get Massachusetts off of coal, working with Sierra Club and others on that campaign helped stop new pipelines, have been advocating for renewable energy expansion with some success on it currently really focused on paving the road to a Massachusetts green deal. Wonderful, Great.
Jacob Stern:
03:33
And, uh, I have the distinct pleasure of working for the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club. So we are part of the larger national organization, with 3.5 million members and supporters across the country here in Massachusetts that numbers, obviously smaller but still over 100,000 people who read our emails in the Commonwealth Way do a lot of the same work as a free 50 mass, pushing the state towards a goal 100% renewable energy, pushing for viable justice, pushing for clean air, clean water and access to public lambs. And we do that with a, uh wide range of volunteers to come from all over the state, often meeting here in our office in Boston or taking action in their hometowns as well. We also push for change through the elected election process, endorsing candidates supporting cannon to care about these issues for local, state and federal office.
Anna Callahan:
04:35
Great. I want to quickly because you just said you endorse candidates. Does 350 Endorse?
Craig Altemose:
04:40
our 501.c.4 , 350 mass action. It's younger than the Sierra Club's 501.c.4. But we definitely do endorse candidates. Yes, absolutely
Anna Callahan:
04:48
wonderful. And how do you How do you work with candidates? Do you have any ways of, uh, keeping your candidates on track after they have got elected?
Jacob Stern:
04:58
Yeah, the Sierra Club. We have a great program for municipal leaders, especially eso folks. We're serving on city councils on town, select boards or even occasionally, mayors. We do 45 times a year local regional meetings where we're able to talk to these folks. We bring them, essentially, bring them into we call the summits. But they're essentially little roundtable events where we talked through some of the policies that they need to know at the state level. And then what actions they can take as local official to push for renewal energy in their city or town and then also talk about what they can push the governor. That's also Charlie Baker listens a lot to municipal leaders.
Craig Altemose:
05:41
Great. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, similarly, I mean, we don't have the same structured format, but I think you are volunteer leader, our strength early in our volunteers, and so our volunteers are very good about continuing to meet with their elected officials after they've been elected to hold him accountable, to make sure they understand our priorities. Happily think the folks that we tend to endorse or not the kinds that need to be held accountable, that they're athletically champions, who are really excited to promote these issues because they understand the importance of climate change in climate justice. But certainly I think for those that we haven't endorsed so that we have also a lot of follow through and follow up in attempts of accountability.
Jacob Stern:
06:22
I know that's a really good point. What I find is the folks who work with its may accountably is not quite the right word, but because thes thes issues air so complicated. And there's so much knowledge that's front loaded that just coming into the coming to them and saying Carrie, here are the 5 to 10 bullet points you need to know to talk intelligent, believe about these issues that's really greatly appreciated, knowing that they can rely on us just like you know, they rely on 3 50 Mass as a source of knowledge.
Anna Callahan:
06:49
Absolutely, one thing that I think we find is that people get into office, and no one who gets elected can know everything about every policy. So they do need help. And so it's really great to hear that you guys can provide that kind of support. I really wanna start talking about big picture. What could we have in Massachusetts if we had a really great state Legislature governor? What do you think  Massachusetts could be doing and what you think Massachusetts should be doing?
Craig Altemose:
07:24
Well, I think to me it's it's less about what we could have, and what we need to have is the way I like the look of the problem and what we need is is to be completely off of fossil fuels really within the next decade. If we wanted to do right by our fellow humans that we share the planet with, say nothing of the other species, particularly most vulnerable among us is that means an entirely renewable electricity grid, which is actually something within the power of the state to accomplish. I think the recent MBT a aboard proposal about electrifying all the trains and haven't so every commuter rail train is stationed is visit by train. Every 15 minutes is exactly the kind of upgrade our transportation infrastructure that we need to get more people out of automobiles. I think for the Army feels that remain they electrified again. I think public transit should be low cost or free against really incentivize people using that, um, I think again, really prioritizing environmental justice is something we actually need to do to make sure that the communities of color and low income community is that every lead suffered the disproportionate burden of pollution over the past 100 plus years are relieved that burden and on have no worsening of that. As we accept, the state continues to worsen and places it should not be on those communities that already had thio experience. So much of that Those impacts. And yet again, I think we know how to build buildings now that don't need heat. They could be heated by the occupants of the body heat of the occupants and by computers are machines inside of them
Anna Callahan:
09:00
here in cold Massachusetts.
Craig Altemose:
09:02
Even here in a way, you know, howto build buildings that we even had a retrofit buildings. So they do that. So that's what we need to do is just have this massive net zero plans of the all new buildings were constructed to not meet heat and did not use to have a zero energy footprint.
Anna Callahan:
09:20
And is that passive housing? Is that the term for it?
Craig Altemose:
09:23
That is a term for that particular. There's a very technical definition, but that's basically ideas. Absolutely. Yeah. Uh
Jacob Stern:
09:31
oh, go ahead. I would second everything you just said, Uh, I think, really the sky's the limit, you know, I mean, since we're talking about an imaginary future government that really prioritize these issues way could go as far as we want. But, um, I like to look at other states and what's already happening around the country because you know what? What we're advocating for in Massachusetts isn't isn't beyond what's already happening. It's already implementations already started. And I mean, no, Where's nowhere? I think we're going far. We need to to really address the scale and scope of the crisis. But in terms of other states that have already made huge commitments around renewable energy California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Washington, on believe may have already committed thio under percent renewable energy. New York Just lot just put forth a huge package of policies around renewable energy. And Virginia, where the Senate and House delegates flipped last night, is looking for looking forward to putting for some really aggressive climate laws as well. They already had an executive order around 100% renewable energy, but now they can back up with some binding legislation, which is really exciting.
Anna Callahan:
10:46
So let me look into that Virginia thing a little bit. So Virginia had a correct me if I'm wrong. Democratic governor and Republican majorities in the House and Senate yesterday
Jacob Stern:
11:00
just yesterday okay, won't be sleeping for a little while, but yes.
Anna Callahan:
11:03
And so now that they have what's called the trifecta, right? The Democratic governor, Democratic House, Majority House, Democratic majority in their state Senate. Now they're saying because they have that they're gonna pass 100 separable energy and the next who knows what, exactly. But they're gonna pass some real environmental legislation now. What do we have here in Massachusetts? Do we have a We don't have Democratic governor,
Jacob Stern:
11:29
so we don't
Anna Callahan:
11:30
know, but we have supermajorities. Is that right, in the House and Senate?
Craig Altemose:
11:34
correct. And our governor is one of the rare Republicans who acknowledges that climate change is happening in says when you do something about it.
Anna Callahan:
11:41
So So wait, it seems like this is not the only thing required to pass these things. And then perhaps our Legislature is not. Let me ask you this question. So there you mentioned six other states that are Maur have better environmental policy. Then we do that reasonably accurate.
Jacob Stern:
12:03
I wouldn't. It was brought to say, is that but certainly have made these commitments to 100% renewable energy.
Anna Callahan:
12:08
They made commitments that we haven't yet made. Do you think the people of Massachusetts would be behind making this these kind of changes you're asking?
Jacob Stern:
12:18
I think I think without it down there was a great W b our poll of this commission two years ago. I'm gonna miss quote the the statistics can't remember them exactly. But it was should overwhelming support for, you know, dealing with climate crisis and pushing for new energy policies at halting the growth of fossil fuel infrastructure On the most no part of the pole is that actually a majority of voters pulled would pay an extra $10 Maur on their electric bill if it meant more renewable energy
Anna Callahan:
12:49
it's putting your money where their mouth is.
Craig Altemose:
12:52
And the exciting thing is that the price of your boys are coming down. That tradeoff is becoming less and less necessary if people are willing to make it. Yeah,
Anna Callahan:
12:59
yeah. So what do you see? We're talking big picture here. Um, I know on the national level, they talk about that this green a deal would require jobs program because there's so much work to be done. What what do you see happening here on the state level? Is that a similar concept?
Craig Altemose:
13:20
I think a lot of jobs will absolutely be created for talking, talking about electrifying the commuter, Alfred. But expanding color trends that if we're talking again, way, really need to retrofit every single building in the state that's older than five years. Some of those that building past five years have not been built efficient enough. And that's not a thing where you can take office building or take a house and ship it to China and say lucky for this force that is jobs on the ground, every single community in the state that along with its own solar panels on ruse and over parking lots and offshore wind is a multi $1,000,000,000 industry waiting in the wings to come on board. So absolutely be huge amount of jobs and be creative. Thinking is really exciting component about this crisis that requires a lot of work in that work needs to be paid for. So, yes, I think the way we're looking at the green your deal is that it is a climate jobs injustice package that really equal parts. Addressing climate change, creating jobs and addressing the various forms of racial and social and economic and gender and indigenous immigrant injustice that have been baked into our system for centuries.
Anna Callahan:
14:33
I would love to poke into that a little bit more. Are there any specific bills that deal with the kind of climate injustice that you're talking about?
Craig Altemose:
14:43
So there's an environmental justice bill that would codify into law an executive order that requires all of our state agencies to consider environmental justice as they're making decisions. We just kind of more of like a policy or like a process approach rather than a substance fixed all of the problems because again, just because they're making future decisions that doesn't address the existing injustices unfortunately, which there are many, um, and we are. We're working with Green Justice Coalition, which represents a lot of these communities of color. Have a front lines of fossil fuel, another source of pollution for decades to start thinking through how we bring together the right folks, including people like the Sierra Club to a table to figure out. What would a nasty sunscreen deal look like? How would we go about addressing climate change and racial injustice and jobs at the same time with that policy is still in formation, and the hope is to work on that over the next year and the file that in 2021 we start the next legislative cycle. So Maura heads for the details on that. But I think for folks looking to advance progress now, the environmental justice bill is Is the one is the vehicle?
Jacob Stern:
15:56
Yeah, I guess I just add that you know that we have some great piece of legislation that both our organizations are supporting. I'm happy that we're very close alignment about our legislative priorities this year, but none of those, I think, quite matches the scope of the green New deal. Obviously, you know, Massachusetts doesn't have the same power to take out, go into debt to do something these projects that we require for the green New Deal. But there are definitely policies that we could bring together to bring in all the different other things. Stitch in sees that a part of the New Deal, Labor and Justice organizations and many, many more to craft a neck little policy. I guess the only the only other thing I would add it is when we come to talking about involved with justice, it's, I think it's very difficult to pass, you know? Ah, law, piece of legislation that solves environmental justice. You know, that's amore intractable problem than saying we're gonna build. You know, this many wouldn't her bottoms off in New Bedford. You know, there are a number of projects like Craig was saying that you need action now, So a lot of I think what we do, you know what we do. What we're continued to dio as a movement not just Sierra Club has played defense and prevent some of these dirty products from being built Compressor station and Weymouth Dirty Incinerator in Saugus Name probably half a dozen more I thought about it, but that's that's the play right now.
Anna Callahan:
17:19
It's interesting to think about Bernie Sanders marijuana policy platform because he specifically talks about exactly how he is going to provide grant money to people who were incarcerated for misdemeanor marijuana possession and allowed. Make sure that they're the ones who are gonna benefit from it. And it was like, Wow, like that is like a very specific justice, you know, marijuana justice, way to look at it that I never thought before. So I wonder if there are ways since there will be so many jobs. Like maybe there are ways to incorporate that kind of thinking into the jobs programs that the communities that have been most impacted by climate injustice could be the people who you know, our prototypes. But I don't know just just talking. I
Jacob Stern:
18:10
think it's a funny metaphor. That's not what I've heard before. But I mean, there's definitely there a couple of bills right now that would make solar, for example, more accessible to low income communities on dhe, certainly with speakers green work spill which potentially could bring a lot of money into different municipalities. Thinking about how we want to allocate that money based on the comm use that have historically disadvantaged on dhe. Make sure that those air prioritised receiving funds to do some of this infrastructure and actually reduce in doing so reduced the amount of air pollution and their town one would hope.
Anna Callahan:
18:48
So. You started talking about coalitions and I'd love to hear you got your thinking about sort of inside outside strategy, right? What does it look like to build a movement outside that can help us push this forward And how it relates to the survey inside politics game?
Craig Altemose:
19:05
Yeah, well, so I think has noted both the Sierra Club in three D Mass have 51 C four arms that are endorsing candidates. And I think we are due to have a good chat soon. About which, you know, primary challengers. It makes sense for us. Tow Throw our collective weight behind t. Look to how we can change the balance of power within Deacon help. Um,
Jacob Stern:
19:26
but, you know,
Craig Altemose:
19:27
there are also are a lot of groups that that that really are not focused at all on the inner workings of the building. Andi, think youth climate strikes. I think is a good example of that where we saw tens of thousands of folks across Massachusetts and millions around the world participated in the most recent September climate strike. The next one in the U. S. Is gonna be on December 6th. Um, and you know, I think extinction rebellion is another group that has started shutting down bridges and take direct action just to wake people up to the crisis again. Really separate themselves from the details of which Bill and which legislators back me and more just helping awaken the the public to the scope scale in an urgency of the crisis. And three steam ass I won't speak for the circle was proud that toe partner with both of those groups on some of their actions. While we're also working with groups including this air equipment and again, thankfully, we were part of multiple coalitions together, um that are working Thio do that that hard, less time sexy work of of trying to get bills out of committee and yeah, and signed into law. And so I think for us, like we appreciate me, we need to do both inside and the outside. I think within the inside game. We thank for this year coming, captain, this category arm or on the outside players on that willing Thio to call a strike, a strike in a ball. A ball in the house throws a ball instead of the strike. And that doesn't always earn us. All of the friends wear honest about how you know a bill fall short of what science morality are demanding of us in this moment. But I don't think that that's part of our role. And I think the exciting thing, a times it can be pretty frustrating that the the client movement has so many organizations that are part of it in this state in particular, like they're dozens of organizations active on climate policy in Massachusetts. But I think the nice things that there's a diverse ecosystem where there are some groups that are better, it sucking up to house leadership, you know, uh, being buddy buddy with them and playing that Maur inside relation Aly based game. And there are some like us that are more focused on building outside power toe, you know, still be polite, but apply some polite pressure when it's needed. In the end again, those that are totally outside of the building. So I did that. There's a robust ecosystem, and I do think all of those strategies in my minds are positively contribute to good outcomes.
Jacob Stern:
21:58
Yeah, I mean that you hit the nail on the head there. I think I'm I think it's been really great to have the partnership with Sunrise moving, especially Massachusetts, the youth powered organization pushing for a green new deal. Climate, jobs and justice nationally. But they have a great presence here. Massachusetts, because they were founded in Boston and they've been doing a great job, you know, helping view climate strike and also have started out pushing directly on our state leaders because, you know, it's very clear for anyone who's in this work for more than a few minutes that we're not seeing the level of action that we need to address the scope of the crisis at the state level. So, um, it's been very, very fun and interesting to work with some of these youth leaders to talk about how we can push our state officials to doom or more quickly because we are, unfortunately, a time limit as well.
Anna Callahan:
22:51
Yeah, before diving into the policy side, but I do want to dive into You specifically mentioned that there's a coalition getting together to try to put together a green a deal by next year. Can people get involved in that? What's the best way for people? Maybe it's not that specifically, maybe there are other ways people bendable.
Craig Altemose:
23:10
So with that coalition, there were still thinking through what the public engagement looks like. But honestly, there is a concern that we want. There's a prayer that would make sure that is a balanced table. And I think the concern is that if we just invite everyone in, this could be a whole dump, huge number of climate groups and fewer labor unions and unions of color. And we wanna make sure again, there's balance representation in terms of who's on steering community and so on. But we definitely want to make sure that there are avenues for people to bring ideas into that and certainly in terms of fighting for we will absolutely want to welcome everyone to fight for. But again, we want to make sure that the voices of directly impacted communities and labor unions are really centered as we're crafting the actual policy details. So lots of opportunities for engagement once the policies are set and we start fighting for the bill, I think some opportunities for engagement. But I think still TBD on helping to craft those those policies. Structures.
Jacob Stern:
24:06
Yeah, I think that's the right approach. And as someone who works for a very large amount organization also like Syracuse and called a Big Green, that's kind of the summer derogative term. It's challenging because step back and let some of that happen and know that you're not always at the table but trusting that those groups are gonna come with fair acquittal policies. That's the approach that I've tried to take as well. But for folks who want to get involved now, I don't know when this will air, but we're both both 3 50 Mass and Sierra Core part of the Mass Power Forward Coalition, a coalition of over 100 for over 200 on environmental groups, slow developers, local groups, faith organizations, covers covering a broad spectrum, all committed thio action around clean energy, climate and the violence of justice. So anyone who's listening to this and want to get involved, there's join one of those 200 plus organizations. Really, the sky's the limit. And if you're you're part of
Craig Altemose:
25:08
an organization that's not part of mass before, you could also push your organization to join, absolutely, to fight through that existing organization. Too
Anna Callahan:
25:16
great. So let's talk policy. Let's talk. And I want you guys just to feel free to spend a few minutes kind of back and forth water policies that we are. We have now, like as bills that we want to push forward water ones there, maybe not where you want them to be. What is the feeling at the State House who is what's preventing us from moving things? Just give us a feeling of like what's happening either in the House or the Senate and how we can start moving more things forward.
Jacob Stern:
25:52
I think I think one of the challenges to is it were the point. This session, especially a lot of question marks about where bills are, you know, because they're in limbo between committees, so I don't have all the answers. I don't think Craig has all the answers. I wish that I wish that we did, but I can. I can talk generally about some policies we want to see move forward. We talk a little about a commitment to 100% renewable energy. That's definitely top priority for both organizations. I could be so bold and then that moment. Justice Bill that Craig mentioned a few minutes ago is something we've both been prioritizing. And then there's also a carbon pricing bill, which I could go into detail little bit detail about Essentially, would be a surcharge on items that are fossil fuels and that money. Instead of just being added to the state budget, we mostly rebate it back out to consumers s. So the idea being here, if you are so on who owns five cars and drives a lot, you're probably going to be paying a little more for the gas. But if you're someone who doesn't own a car, take public transit for bikes. You're actually making money off of this rebate, and there's some special provisions there as well for businesses and rural communities to make sure they're not adversely impacted. Um, and then I think, most importantly, least from Syracuse, respected. Most important part of that bill is actually it's such a side part of that money for going infrastructure. So actually funding some of those renewal energy projects we need to see those were probably among our top three priorities. Legislatively speaking, obviously, Sierra Close supports a wide range of environmental issues plastic pollution talk, sex, lands, conservation, transportation. But we've got enough time to get into all those, and I'm also not the expert on those. So I shouldn't speak out of turn.
Craig Altemose:
27:38
Think Jacob covered the majority of our policy parties that their two additional ones that I think we differ from the show a little bit in terms of protesting that I will add one very excited about the circle supportive of is called. It's a proposal that's being led by the Hero Coalition. It stands for housing and environment revenue opportunities. It's basically back in January, Governor Baker proposed an increase by 50% of the real estate deeds excise tax, especially when you sell your home or property sold. Massachusetts. There's attacks you already pay, and he was proposed increasing by 50% to fund climate resilience. Andi after that proposal was aired, which was done without consultation of environmental groups or affordable housing groups, the affordable housing came, and he recognized that they had been looking at a similar source of revenue. Do you find affordable housing and last, if we could work together? Said, Of course. And it turned out that that that tax has not been increasing like 50 years in the Commonwealth, and that even if we double it, we're still below four of our five neighboring states. Tax rates. Eso we'd be below New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont crew doubled our real estate. These X axis of that is my proposal that we should double it again. Still be below four or five immediate neighbors, um, and then split the money half of it toward climate resilience on then the other half toward affordable housing. And we see affordable housing as a key part of climate change in that again, if you can afford to live in the community that you work in, then your energy costs of you having to go to work and back are much lower, which is you, whether that's lousy, to bike or walk or take public transit to work and having drive a car big win for the environment and then also from a resilience perspective when there's a heat wave when there's a hurricane when there's a winter storm flood. The studies have shown that that people who are who lived in socially well connected communities nick through those storms much better than people who are living in socially isolated communities. And so again, if you are being forced out of your community, where your neighbors, your friends, your acquaintances all live and have to relocate 30 miles away, then you get hit by a heat wave. You're gonna be much less resilient without that social network to call upon for support. And so again, we see that both in terms of preventing climate impacts, anything worse in feeling the climbing pecs are coming affordable. Housing makes a lot of sense as a climate strategy. And so we're very proud to stand with the affordable housing groups and calling for doubling of the real estate tax to fund both of these parties, which have generated by $150 million a year for each of climate change, conference opponents and affordable housing. And so there are a number of different vehicles that were trying thio advance that through. But certainly it folks should be rolling out a website scene for the Hero Coalition and again, welcome there. A couple dozen groups that have signed on to it so far certainly welcome additional organizational sign ups for that as well. Um, And then the other priority is that we're also member of the Rays of Massachusetts Coalition, which I assume you and your listeners are familiar words from other.
Anna Callahan:
30:50
Yeah, I don't know what my listeners mayor, Let's give a little
Craig Altemose:
30:54
So I extend my mind That raised mass collision is the most progressive coalition, the most powerful progressive coalition, the state that they've won the $15 minimum wage earned sick time heard paid family medical leave and one of their they've endorsed the Hero Coalition hero campaign, which I'm very excited about. Um, I needed the priority for them, but one of their other priorities is around the millionaire sex. So putting an extra 4% tax on income above $1 million a year. So basically your first million's tax at the same rate as everybody else and then any money make above that gets an extra 4% tax and to use that tax to funds, public education and transportation and hopefully you know, green Transportation that something will be continued to discuss this. We get closer to the implementation of that. That's a campaign that we fully support as a progressive revenue generation for the Commonwealth again, which I think for education and transportation that there's the toughest green investment opportunities we can make, but generally just see that as a good thing to be supporting the
Jacob Stern:
31:58
one policy that I realized that, uh, we mentioned earlier briefly we didn't dive into is the speaker's Green Works bill, which we haven't seen as a priority in the same way I some other piece of legislation because it doesn't it doesn't make the same types of commitments we're hoping forward. Generate revenue Leg. You're working here. Oh Coalition Libya Designate source of revenue with the Green Works Bill Bond building, mostly used around at adaptation. Resilience is my understanding, with some money going towards efficiency projects, local renewable energy. I believe it's up to over a $1,000,000,000 bond. So I guess I guess Sierra Club's perspective is where we've been really pleased to see the speaker prioritize on this issue because historically that haven't been too many large bills around climate change, climate resilience, clean energy, eso, even the sea action. All I think is it's exciting to us. I think that we would definitely like to see some changes, some amendments on preferably it has ignited source of revenue around these things. So we're going to continue to be in conversations how we can improve that bill or how we can pass some additional legislation that will kind of set a larger framework around these using it projects. How does anything you'd add to that?
Craig Altemose:
33:16
Yeah, what are largely agree? And I think there's a Senate for music. I think one of an additional exciting thing is that there's the potential to unite. Green works with this this hero idea and to have basically the revenue that be generated from these access tax service, the debt that that the Green works bound would create. And so I think that there's potential for a really nice little marriage of those ideas Thio do some deficit spending sooner are bigger for the combo for them to have a dedicated revenue source so that we're taking care of repaying that because I think a lot of these investments will prevent future damages, but are not necessarily. If you build a wider culvert, that means that you're gonna prevent flooding, which is gonna present prevent a lot of property damage to both private property and public property. But it's not like that that you can then monetize that prevention of damage to repay the investment for, you know, there's no new generate new revenue that you're like, Oh, look at all this money we saved because we didn't have to rebuild this building that's now just sitting here. But even though you are, you are saving that money. But it's not money that is identified and discreet. So
Anna Callahan:
34:29
I have to admit I once went to I was in Las Vegas for a conference and I went around with a friend way did anti betting. So we would say, I'm gonna I'm gonna not bet $20 on Red 30 30 was like have calculated how much money we didn't lose. It just makes me
Jacob Stern:
34:50
think of that. You
Anna Callahan:
34:51
know, all this stuff is really money that we're going to lose. Your sure be in more debt if we don't do these things. But it's hard to make that sale. Yeah, other thoughts about, Like what? What are the hurdles? What's right? Obstacles. What's kind of stopping us from getting this stuff done right now?
Jacob Stern:
35:09
I mean, I think I think some of the challenges that we face are the same challenges that you know. Any advocate Massachusetts faces, you know, essentially power in the State House. There's, you know, Bill's move forward and incrementally used least Legislature picking up one, maybe two big issues of session. They want to focus on the session. Is education last session criminal justice in there, A few other things as well. Eso getting legislators to focus on these issues, which, as we've said, our complicated, they're not intuitive on dhe. They require a lot of back or knowledge that most people don't have. You know, I don't expect elected leaders tohave an outside source of knowledge on these issues. It's it's very challenging. Um, and on top of that, I think some of the leaders in the State House have been they've been lukewarm or generally supportive, but haven't been championing. These issues haven't been running running on climate issues like we've seen some other states.
Craig Altemose:
36:07
You know, all of that. I think the only thing I would add is, is that I think that there's just not just within the State House, but across the state of a a lack of urgency, Um, on on this issue that which I actually think it is actually bubbling up among the people. I was actually really pleased. There's a poll recently of voters that showed that, at least for Democratic voters, if you were given three options, would you rather spend $2 trillion of next 30 years to fix climate change? Or would you rather spend $5 trillion next 20 years or $10 trillion of next 10 years to fix climate change and support for the policies? All of them had majority support significant majority support. But the total mass support increased as you increase the expenses in short time. And so I think the public has a sense that climate change is a problem. We need to fix it now, you know, as opposed to 30 years from now. But I think one of the challenges that many climate advocates who've been virals advocates have been doing this work for decades. I feel like they have had a shrink, their ambition and not try to solve this in the next decade, but feel like we need 30 years to dress it. And again, this is a very big technical challenge. Lots of moving pieces, very complicated, about totally restructure in society and our economy. And yet I think that that that instinct of people off, like, spend more money now and do it right now and do it now is the right instinct that I think, uh, yeah, I think we're being held back by some degree because people feel like we don't have the exact plans total of late at us exactly where every single soul panel will fit and where every battery storage site will be located. And I just think that, you know, that's not the way society really should look at massive undertakings. It is that we have the entire plan figured out before we begin. I think when we've looked at really big cup endeavors, which I think the most obvious for countries like going to war, you know, like with World War two, they did not demand to see precisely what day we would catch. Capture Adolf Hitler. Emperor Hirohito of Japan, like they don't need that level of specificity in their plans to agree that yes, we should fight Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, but that you said you figure out what you need to do, and then as you do it, you figure out how you're going to do it. Andi, think that we need that same level of resolve. This is an issue that we need to address and just set about making it happen. And I think we don't have that resolve present within the political leadership of the moment, which is really unfortunate because we need that result. I think the exciting thing is that result was building among people anything which is a lot of being helped along. But every no forced fire out in California with every hurricane in that batter's of the Caribbean or our coasts, you know, And I think is there more droughts and food riots and refugee crises and so on that that pressure is on Lee going to grow. But the question is, does that grow quickly enough for us to really prevent, you know, really big catastrophe is from unfolding around the planet and potentially the collapse of civilization itself, and I think That is a very open question at the moment, e
Jacob Stern:
39:37
think. I mean, I think I think it's difficult for folks, you know, change is difficult. Any kind of change, even, just, you know, convincing my roommates start composting. It's difficult, you know? So when we talk about, you know, restructuring our systems restructure the way we do business is gonna affect everyone at all levels of society. That's really scary. And, you know, it kind of rightfully so. You know, I think we spent a lot of time on our date a life tryingto, you know, mitigate risk. And we like consistency and routine. And we're in a position right now where we're gonna be face with that, one way or another, we're gonna face a big change, a big upheaval, no matter what we do. If we do nothing, that's gonna happen anyway. So we're choosing between two different types of change, essentially. But you know, that action is hard itself. So I think that's I think that's the struggle that you know. A lot of folks who care with issues kind of think about, and then all of our elected leaders air starting to realize as well but we do. We do these trainings with our grassroots leaders all across the state on and one of the big thesis points I was trying to leave them with. So if you learn anything from this training, please no, that we're not way aren't missing the technological solutions Here we have the technological answers, like, sure, we're still building better battery storage. Better. Wouldn't hurt minds, but it all exists now. It existed even five years ago. Um, what we're really missing is the will power, the political willpower to make this stuff happen. So don't come out of this training thinking. I need to go get a master's degree and, you know, start developing better technology. No, go call your legislator and say, This is important to me. I want I want you to know that I vote based on what my elected leaders do around these issues.
Anna Callahan:
41:23
So my last question touch on this in every interview, it sounds like we need more fighters, more leaders in the House and Senate. Um, what's your advice for people who might be thinking about running for office?
Jacob Stern:
41:44
There's never never downside to running. Massachusetts has some of the lowest turnover of any state in the country. And you think about I'm gonna go back to Virginia for just a second. Virginia says we're gonna pass sweeping climate legislation now because they might not have control of the house in the Senate in a few years. They haven't had it. They hadn't had Democrat trifecta since 1994. That's a long time. We can't wait another two decades to make that happen again. So, uh, in Massachusetts, there isn't that same feeling of urgency because we'll always be next session. Democrats aren't gonna lose control of the House and Senate. Massachusetts. It's not gonna happen. They might actually gain some seats in 2020. It's looking like so. I think that challenge, even not even a winning challenges good. Any time we have an opportunity to hold our elected leaders accountable and make them feel that they need to focus more on these issues is a good opportunity, and please give us a call. Let us know you if you want to run, totally
Craig Altemose:
42:49
echo everything, Jacob said. Yeah, I think I took a course in grad school about running for office and managing political campaigns and the the professor of the instructor, was a campaign manager, and he had the sense that basically he would never support challengers. He only would support incumbents or empty seats because it was hard to win. And obviously, I think we've seen many examples recently of challengers defeating incumbents yesterday, indeed, but But to me, I think that totally loses the site of the important role elections play in society. And it's yes, winning. It is exciting and important and wonderful when it happens. But I think you can absolutely change. You can make change by running and losing, but by elevating issues and by showing politics current officeholders that as long as they continue to delay action on certain issues or failed to lead on certain issues that they invite a future challenger and the last thing a politician wants is a challenger. And so if they know I've heard anecdotes of situations where you know, politician, ex votes with, I think it's fair to say you heard this from neighbor to Neighbor Progress Organization that they found politician would vote for them about 30% of the vote along their priorities. 30% of the time, they would run a challenger and even that challenger didn't win. Then just the fact they run a challenger that, you know, that was a competitive. It was a real challenge. They would start then voting with them 7% of the time because they wanted to say, Hey, back off! Okay, I get it. I'm gonna, you know, don't challenge me again, right? And I think like you, so you can absolutely change both. Look the grassroots public understanding of issues by running and having a platform to educate your fellow citizens about issues of importance. But you can also directly impact the behavior of the current officeholders, even if they win reelection. And then obviously there's the chance that they don't win reelection, that you get to replace them and then obviously can dramatically change how they engage in public office. But to me that that is a win win scenario of getting out there, and actually it takes some courage and it takes some hard work. But I think that climate change is one of several issues where courage and hard work are really needed right now. And if you have listeners out there who are thinking about it, Absolutely. Please jump in and reach out to Jacob and I and I think we would be very particularly here. You care about climate, Theo? The future of life on Earth. They most likely very excited to work with you on that.
Anna Callahan:
45:27
Wonderful. This has been so great, really lightning. And so appreciate the work that you guys are doing. There's nothing more important right now, so thank you.
Jacob Stern:
45:40
Thank you. Great. Wonderful.
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