HOUSE APPROVES $2.2 BILLION FOR CLIMATE ADAPTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

By Bob Katzen

House 143-3, approved a bond bill allowing the state to borrow up to $2.2 billion for climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets.

The package includes earmarks for hundreds of millions of dollars for hundreds of projects in legislators’ districts across the state — many of which will never be funded. The Baker administration ultimately decides which projects are affordable and actually get funded but it cannot fund most of them because the governor’s office is also required to adhere to the state’s annual bond borrowing cap.

Provisions include $60 million for the construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation of seawalls, jetties and retaining walls; $180 million for state and local dams; $7.5 million for water and air quality protection; $40 million for the containment, monitoring and cleanup of oil and other hazardous materials; and $9 million for an Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.

“Our commonwealth is once again a leader in regard to combatting the nation’s most dire policy issues, one of those being environmental change,” said “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox), chairman of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.” I am proud to say that the [bill] … includes strategic investments in environmental protection and coastal infrastructure. Over the last few years, we saw communities across Massachusetts be ravaged by environmental destruction from severe drought to coastal flooding, and this … bill provides the critical funding our state needs to adapt and mitigate to future environmental impacts.”

“I was proud to vote in favor of H 4599,” said Rep. Frank Smizik (D-Brookline) chairman of the House Committee on Climate Change. “I was especially pleased by the inclusion of key provisions from my climate adaptation management plan bill … These measures will help our state to prepare for the increasingly severe impacts of climate change and to protect our communities for decades to come.”

“Over the last month or so, the House has approved nearly $10 billion in bond spending,” said Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica). “We are already at the top of the list for states with the highest debt per capita. We can’t continue to saddle our children with enormous debt.”

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