November 30, 2017
Last month, citizen activists from Quincy Climate Action Network met separately with two Quincy state representatives to request their support for pending legislation that will affect public health, electricity costs, and greenhouse gas emissions in our city and state for years to come. The responses we got from the legislators, Rep. Bruce Ayers and Rep. Tackey Chan, could not have been more different.
Rep. Ayers voiced his support for several bills that aim to increase by 2 or 3 percent a year the proportion of renewable energy in the basic service electricity that powers most houses and businesses. (The current annual rate of increase is 1 percent.) He even offered to work with QCAN to compose written testimony that he could submit in favor of the bills. In addition, he pledged to support a bill incentivizing residents to buy or lease electric cars, and he vowed to keep fighting the proposed Fore River Compressor Station, which many South Shore voters strongly oppose owing to effects the station would have on the air we breathe in Quincy and on the climate change that brought us this year’s devastating hurricanes and wildfires.
Rep. Tackey Chan, by contrast, declined to support the renewable energy bills, arguing that they wouldn’t actually increase the production of renewable energy. (Actually, laws that are similar or identical to the ones QCAN supports have worked well in Massachusetts and other states across the country.) Rep. Chan did say he “likes” electric vehicles, but he didn’t say whether he would vote for the electric vehicle bills, whose details were unfamiliar to him.
Most surprisingly, perhaps, Rep. Chan said he wouldn’t support a Senate bill, cosponsored by Quincy’s Sen. John Keenan, to restrict the siting of compressor stations. To explain his opposition, he raised fears that Quincy residents would lack heat on winter mornings. But as we tried to point out to Rep. Chan, the state already has sufficient gas pipeline capacity to serve all current and foreseeable needs, as confirmed by a 2015 report commissioned by state Attorney General Maura Healy.
To sum up our meetings with the two legislators: We are grateful to Rep. Ayers for his support of the bills we brought to his attention, and we look forward to working with him on issues that will determine the survival of our city and our region.
As to Rep. Chan, we were deeply disappointed by his lack of support. Knowing how much he cares about his constituents, we can only hope he reconsiders his stance on issues whose effects have begun to be felt in his district, and will be felt more dramatically with each passing year.
Board Member, Quincy Climate Action Network