Submitted by Uma Kaundinya and Hillary Hosmer
Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey welcomed overflow crowds to his January 5 Town Meeting at R.J. Grey Junior High in Acton. Many wanted to hear about the Green New Deal from the man who co-authored it with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and he did not disappoint. He engaged the audience and clarified concepts through a lively Q&A.
Many local Democratic representatives highlighted their accomplishments briefly, then described Markey’s significance in their careers. Rep Gouveia highlighted breaking ground on a triple Net Zero elementary school in Acton.
Markey first addressed impeachment and Congress’s role in a possible war with Iran.
Markey has been submitting climate bills to the U.S. Congress for years. The 2007 Waxman/Markey Bill, a 1400-page detailed plan to address climate change, did not become law but resulted in regulations on fuel economy, appliance efficiency standards and several tax subsidies for green energy. The Trump administration has rolled back many of these subsidies, so the Senator called the citizens to action to vote for climate-conscious Senators
In January 2019, Senator Markey teamed up with newly-elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) to propose the Green New Deal (GND). Although built on extensive scientific work, it’s only 14 pages long and has energized the climate movement.
The GND calls for a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the creation of high-paying jobs, ensuring that clean air, clean water, and healthy food are basic human rights, and ending all forms of oppression. Markey pointed out that due to these latter provisions, the Republicans have mischaracterized the GND as a socialist program.
Sen Markey highlighted scientific evidence and projections – Massachusetts’ average temperature will rise by 7 degrees and the sea level will rise by 10 ft. in the next 80 years.
The senator explained that sustainable choices can be economically viable, and better for health. He urged positive marketing on this matter to educate the citizenry.
Sen. Markey sees government’s role as providing incentives and regulation. He is trying to extend tax breaks for electric cars, solar panels, and wind power. Did you know that the 2nd strongest winds on the planet are on our coastline? Did you know that there are only 50K coal mining jobs in the US compared to 350K jobs in renewable energy sources?
In response to questions from the audience, Markey recommended that each community choose its own climate goals. He said, “Each town can have its own Green New Deal!”
He highlighted youth involvement and urged them to join the Sunrise Movement (https://www.sunrisemovement.org/), a group founded by Varshini Prakash, a graduate of the Acton public schools. He pointed out that Scituate chose to be the first 100% renewable energy community. He supported efforts to stop the natural gas compressors in Cohasset, Quincy, and Braintree since the liquefied natural gas it produces is intended for export, not local consumption. To the question, “What should we do if Trump is reelected?” He said, “Don’t agonize, organize”.