Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Bay State leaders tackle the problem of climate change

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Mar 06, 2013 By Cole Chapman, The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON — Warning that the Massachusetts coastline could face water levels at least two feet higher within 30 years, a group of leaders in government and science met Tuesday to discuss plans to change building codes, slow greenhouse gases and develop disaster plans for future calamities similar to Super Storm Sandy.

Brian Swett, Boston’s chief of Environment and Energy department, described the city’s plans to implement new regulations on new construction, install solar powered street lights, lay out new emergency routes out of Boston and away from flood zones, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s plan to increase trees by 35 percent, or an estimated 100,000 new trees, by 2020.

The new building regulations would place mechanical, electrical, and emergency infrastructures on the roof and create designs to keep key floors above the anticipated water levels of a “100-year storm” (a storm with a one percent probability of happening each year) in 2085.

Sen. William Brownsberger, D–Belmont, highlighted his legislation to form a committee to study the risk factors of rising sea levels and flood scenarios in 2030, 2050, and 2100.
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Three bills aim to bar ‘fracking’

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Feb 18, 2013 By Cole Champan, GateHouse News ServiceThe State House Program

BOSTON —Although Massachusetts is not known for petroleum exploration, two bills have been filed in the Legislature to pre-emptively ban hydraulic fracturing – a natural gas extraction process better known as “fracking.”

Rep. Denise Provost, D-Somerville, and Rep. Peter V. Kocot, D-Northampton, have co-sponsored one bill that would bar the exploitation of shale located deep beneath the ground for natural gas production.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sean Garballey, D–Arlington, has two bills filed regarding fracking. One, filed last year, would require disclosures about what chemicals are being used in the fracking process while the other is a ban similar to Provost’s.

Even though there is little interest in what geologists believe are meager pickings for petroleum in the state, and state regulation now bars the fracking process, both lawmakers are in earnest about their proposals.
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Mild winter thaws Cape’s budget worries

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

By Tara Jayakar, Cape Cod Times

This past winter’s lack of snowfall has been seen as a windfall by Cape officials who have snow removal money left over in their town budgets. But they say budgetary rules may keep them from using the money until next year.

“Public finance is a pain in the neck,” said Brewster Public Works Superintendent Robert Bersin, whose department has a $25,000 surplus that can’t be used elsewhere. “It’s earmarked for the snow and ice budget.”
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Shortage of snow equals surplus cash for Lowell-area towns

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

By Neal J. Riley, The Lowell Sun

City and town officials have grown accustomed to exceeding their snow-removal budgets well before the groundhog peeks his head out to see his shadow.

But this mild winter has cash-strapped municipalities hoping there will be savings they can put to good use.

“I’ve been in this business for 20 years in four different communities, and I’ve never seen a surplus,” said Tom Moses, chief financial officer for Lowell, which has spent $722,370 so far out of $1.2 million budgeted for snow and ice costs.
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Fishermen split on striped bass fishing ban

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

By Corey KanePatriot Ledger

BOSTON — Massachusetts fishermen descended on the State House Tuesday to renew debate over a controversial proposal that would ban commercial fishing of striped bass, creating a rift between recreational and commercial anglers.

Concerned about indications of a dwindling striper population, a national conservation group called Stripers Forever initially sought a game-fish designation for the species in 2010. The proposal has led to a series of emotional debates over several legislative sessions.

“We understand that this is a politically contentious issue, yet the welfare of the bass must come first or there will be nothing left to fight over,” Dean Clark of Stripers Forever told the Legislature’s Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.
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How will the warm winter impact maple season?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud

BOSTON – With wintery temperatures largely a memory this year, the lack of “sugar weather” is threatening to reduce the production of maple syrup and raise its price.

“The production depends highly on cold and light. Trees do need a good hard freezing period that would help turn sugar into something that may produce maple syrup,” said Winton Pitcoff, coordinator of the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.”

Although Massachusetts’ maple sugar industry is dwarfed by Vermont and New Hampshire, it still represents an important economic factor in the state. Each year some 60,000 tourists each year spend $1.9 million during the sugaring season at the state’s maple farms and restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, country inns, and other attractions, according to Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources website.
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MetroWest Chamber helps fuel growth in the state economy

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Mounira Al Hmoud, The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON – MetroWest members of the state’s Economic Development Planning Council are touting the area’s leadership in advancing an economic growth plan that emphasizes the need to train workers for middle-skill jobs and support innovation and entrepreneurship.

Bonnie Biocchi, president and CEO of MetroWest Chamber of Commerce and member of the council, told a meeting of the council on Thursday that her group has formed partnerships with other local educational institutions in the area to help train future workers.

“Together with 495/MetroWest Partnership and our colleges and universities we have begun to find ways to advance education and workforce development,” said Biocchi. “MetroWest will work toward supporting regional development through local empowerment.”
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State Senate passes emergency response bill

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

BOSTON – Driven by residents’ frustration over extended power failures following Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm, lawmakers are supporting legislation that would push utilities to improve service and communication during storms and their aftermath.

The bill, which has passed the Senate and is now before the House, would require twice-daily public announcements by power companies on estimates of when power will be restored. It will also require that utilities establish a state call center with sufficient staffing to handle increased calls.

The measure would upgrade the rules on the way utilities communicate with customers by requiring telephone and website access.
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State Senate passes storm response bill

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

By Rick SobeyMilford Daily News

BOSTON – Driven by residents’ frustration over extended power failures following Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm, lawmakers are supporting legislation that would push utilities to improve service and communication during storms and their aftermath.

The bill, which has passed the Senate and is now before the House, would require twice-daily public announcements by power companies on estimates of when power will be restored. It will also require that utilities establish a state call center with sufficient staffing to handle increased calls.

The measure would upgrade the rules on the way utilities communicate with customers by requiring telephone and website access.
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Group pushes for expansion of bottle bill

Friday, October 28th, 2011

October 28, 2011

BOSTON — A group of environmental advocates — dressed as pirates, cats, and even Little Red Riding Hood — called on Massachusetts legislators to expand the state’s bottle-recycling program yesterday.

In a Halloween-themed push, backers of legislation that would add a 5-cent deposit onto the cost of bottled water, sports drinks and other non carbonated beverages, showed up at the Statehouse in costume yesterday to “trick-or-treat” throughout the building and share their views with lawmakers.

The supporters of the so-called “bottle bill,” including college students and members of environmental organizations, were brought together by MASSPIRG, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, an organization that has been one of the bill’s main proponents.

“Updating the bottle bill means less litter, more recycling and saving cities and towns money,” said MASSPIRG Executive Director Janet Domenitz. “That is not a trick. That’s a treat.”

The group visited the office of each member of the House and Senate, bringing with them a total of 15,313 postcards from constituents asking that their legislators support the bill.

UMass Lowell students Ryan Bichekas and Brooks Hubbard helped distribute postcards and information packets to area representatives.

“It’s really important just to try to help the environment,” said Bichekas, a senior studying political science. “It’s being pushed to the brink as it is.”

Bichekas, who joked that he considered wearing wearing a mask of former President Richard Nixon, who was president when the Environmental Protection Agency was established, said he believes the bill creates a necessary incentive for people to recycle.

The original bottle bill, passed in 1982, was the first statewide recycling program in Massachusetts. Retailers and consumers pay a 5-cent deposit when purchasing canned or bottled carbonated drinks, and consumers who return the bottles to redemption centers get their deposit refunded.

The original bottle bill, passed in 1982, was the first statewide recycling program in Massachusetts. Retailers and consumers pay a 5-cent deposit when purchasing canned or bottled carbonated drinks, and consumers who return the bottles to a redemption center get their deposit refunded.

The proposal to expand the system is sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, and Rep. Alice Wolf, D-Cambridge.

Sens. Jamie Eldrigde, D-Acton, Ken Donnelly, D-Arlington, and Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, are among the 80 co-sponsors of the bill.

Rep. Rich Bastien, R-Gardner, opposes the expansion and is the sponsor of legislation that would repeal the bottle bill entirely. Bastien said the advent of curbside recycling makes a specific bottle recycling program unnecessary.

“Having another duplicate process where people have to take their cans, put them in a plastic bag, and then have to drive to a convenience store to recycle them is not as environmentally sound as it seems,” he said.

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