APCC Supports Climate Adaptation Legislation

Submitted written testimony in support of Rep. Peake's bill...

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod submitted written testimony to the State Legislature in support of a bill filed by Representative Sarah Peake that would require state polices and regulations to be consistent with climate change adaptation planning adopted by Massachusetts.

Last year, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law legislation that required Massachusetts to adopt a statewide comprehensive plan addressing the impacts of climate change. The bill, which was strong advocated for by APCC, commits Massachusetts to assessing the state’s most vulnerable areas and human populations susceptible to climate change impacts, including projected sea level rise, and then developing management practices to meet current and future climate-related challenges.

However, the final version of the bill signed into law in 2018 lacked language that would have created a framework for implementing the climate adaption plan so that it was reflected in state policies and regulations. The bill filed by Peake, An Act Promoting Sustainable Investment, Economic Security and Fiscal Responsibility with Respect to Climate Risks, provides that missing consistency requirement.

The Peake bill requires state policies and regulations to be consistent with the state’s climate adaptation plan, requires consideration of climate change risks in state permitting and licensing decisions and in financing capital projects, and it directs investor-owned utilities to assess and address climate risks at their facilities. The legislation directs the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards to pursue building code improvements that protect against climate risks, and it creates climate risk education and training opportunities for local boards and commissions. It also requires assurances that climate adaptation actions by the state address risks to vulnerable populations, including low income and minority populations.

“Representative Peake’s legislation provides a clear mandate in statute that requires the implementation of climate adaptation policies and regulations that are consistent, predictable and effective,” said Andrew Gottlieb, APCC’s executive director. “We must do all we can to confront this climate crisis by drastically reducing our carbon emissions as well as making sure we are fully prepared to deal with the impacts that are occurring now and that will increase over time.”

APCC submitted its written testimony in support of Peake’s bill to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, which is currently considering the legislation.

The following is the text of APCC’s written testimony.

May 21, 2019

Senator Anne Gobi, Chair

Representative Smitty Pignatelli, Chair

Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

24 Beacon Street

Boston, MA 02133

RE: SUPPORT for – H.841 An Act Promoting Sustainable Investment, Economic Security, and Fiscal Responsibility with Respect to Climate Risks

Dear Chairs Gobi and Pignatelli:

The Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) writes in strong support of H.841, An Act Promoting Sustainable Investment, Economic Security, and Fiscal Responsibility with Respect to Climate Risks.

Founded in 1968, APCC is the Cape Cod region’s leading nonprofit environmental advocacy and education organization, working for the protection, preservation and restoration of the Cape’s natural resources. The Cape is geographically situated to receive the full brunt of climate change’s impacts to the Massachusetts coast, from sea level rise, to coastal erosion to flooding from storm surge. These ever-increasing impacts are a direct threat to public infrastructure, private property and the natural coastal environment. On Cape Cod and throughout the state, assessing our vulnerabilities and implementing appropriate planning strategies to meet climate challenges is a critical priority.

Thanks to the leadership of Governor Baker and the State Legislature last session, the Commonwealth now has much needed climate change adaptation planning programs and funding in place. However, the critically important statutory framework to make sure adaption planning is properly implemented is still lacking. We are in need of a clear mandate in statute to require the implementation of climate adaptation policies and regulations that are consistent and predictable. H.841 provides statutory certainty that will enable the Commonwealth and its communities to be better protected through the execution of effective climate change adaptation planning policies by requiring: 

  • Consistency and predictability in state policies and regulations.
  • Consideration of climate change risks in permitting and licensing decisions, financing and capital projects.
  • Measures to ensure that climate adaptation actions address risks to vulnerable populations, including low income and minority populations.
  • Assessments by investor-owned utilities that address climate risks to their facilities.
  • A study by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards of the feasibility, impact, economics and merit of code improvements requiring that buildings be designed, sited and constructed to address and protect against climate risks.
  • Opportunities for education and training for members of local boards and commissions about the risks of climate change.

Massachusetts must be prepared to effectively address the threats of climate change by making sure that adaption planning is implemented in a consistent, predictable and responsible manner. An Act Promoting Sustainable Investment, Economic Security, and Fiscal Responsibility with Respect to Climate Risks provides the missing component to our state’s climate change adaptation planning by helping to ensure that our investments in the future are made wisely and that they are sustainable.

APCC respectfully urges the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture to report this bill out with a favorable recommendation.

Sincerely,

Andrew Gottlieb                                                         Don Keeran

Executive Director                                                      Assistant Director


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