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November 2022

Westford Climate Action's mission is to drive climate action. We promote sustainability and advocate on a local level for actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard the health of our community for future generations.
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Be Green and Save Green - Visit our Table at the Westford Academy Holiday Bazaar December 3, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Don't miss Westford Climate Action's table at Westford Academy's annual Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, December 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to learn more about fighting climate change and saving money at the same time!

Whether you're thinking about an electric vehicle, replacing your heating/cooling system or protecting our natural resources, you'll find info about how to save on them all at our table. Learn about generous new federal and state rebates and cost-free home energy audits and get answers to your questions about Westford POP, the town's electricity supply program that's providing big savings to residents and businesses during this time of skyrocketing electricity costs.

If you are not already getting our newsletter, you can sign up and while you're at it, help the planet and become a member of WCA!
Proposed New Municipal Building at 51 Main Street - Still Not Approved
The proposed new municipal building at 51 Main St, at the site of the former fire station on the Common, has been an active project for the Town of Westford since 2015. Over the last eight years, the project has been discussed in more than 100 public meetings and has cost $872,000 to date.

Voters at the Oct. 17th Special Town Meeting dismissed the warrant article that would have appropriated the funds to move forward on the project, postponing discussion until the March 2023 Annual Town Meeting. The motion to dismiss argued that the 51 Main Street article did not meet the Select Board’s guidelines for placing articles on a Special Town Meeting warrant. At the Nov. 8th election, the debt exclusion ballot question that would have approved raising construction funds for the project was defeated by a vote of 5,567 no votes to 5,489 yeses. 

The Permanent Town Building Committee was not able to make its carefully crafted presentation about the project at Special Town Meeting. The presentation outlines the building's advanced energy conservation and sustainability features that align with the town's net zero goals.

Westford Climate Action supported the Town’s proposal for this building and continues to urge voters to approve the funding. WCA also supported the J.V. Fletcher Library expansion and renovation project, which was approved both at the Special Town Meeting and on the November ballot.
Legislative Corner
The Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind was signed into law on August 11, 2022 by Governor Charlie Baker. The law will kickstart some of the work the state needs to do to reach the ambitious goals established by the Next Generation Roadmap law signed into law in March 2021. Here are some highlights of the legislation from Massachusetts Elders' Climate Action recent webinar.
A major goal of the law is to support the equitable development of the offshore wind industry through:
  • New tax incentives, grants, loans, and other investment opportunities to build the wind energy industry and a domestic wind energy supply chain, and to provide job training.
  • Incentivizing wind energy developers to engage low-income workers, workers of color, businesses owned by women and people of color to provide job training and to offer specified benefits to employees and communities.
  • Establishing a commission to help protect wildlife from harm by offshore wind projects.
The law creates two new entities to deal with the delivery of electricity:
  • The Clean Energy Transmission Working Group to work with New England states to build/upgrade transmission lines.
  • The Grid Modernization Advisory Council to ensure utilities make needed and cost-effective transmission upgrades.
The Department of Energy Resources will work on energy storage and transmission:
  • Studying energy storage and issuing recommendations for adding storage to the grid.
  • Possibly soliciting bids for up to 4,800 gigawatt-hours of storage.
  • Soliciting bids for the construction of an offshore transmission system to support offshore wind projects.
Solar energy receives a boost through:
  • An increase in the net metering cap.
  • Allowing more than one installation on a property.
  • Allowing and selectively incentivizing solar on farms.
Biomass derived power changes:
Finally, the law prohibits awarding renewable energy credits to power plants that burn biomass to generate electricity.
The law promotes the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by:
  • Banning the sale of new internal combustion vehicles (ICV) after 2035.
  • Increasing EV rebates from $2500 to $3500 for new EVs costing $55,000 or less with $1,000 more for trading in an ICV and $1500 more for lower-income residents.
  • Providing some incentives for buying medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles.
EV charging will be made more accessible and cheaper through:
  • Formation of a council to oversee the equitable deployment of public chargers.
  • Requiring the installation of chargers at all Mass Pike service plazas and in some public transit parking areas.
  • Requiring utilities to offer off-peak rates for EV charging.
Electrification of public transit will be accelerated by requiring the MBTA to:
  • Buy only zero-emission buses beginning in 2030.
  • Electrify the whole bus fleet by 2040.
  • Consider emissions and climate resiliency in planning.
Studies of electrifying regional transit, school buses, and ride hailing services are mandated.
The law supports electrification of buildings by:
  • Allowing 10 municipalities to ban gas hook-ups in new construction and major rehabs.
  • Incentivizing the purchase of electric appliances.
  • Ending Mass Save incentives or rebates for fossil fuel heating with few exceptions.
  • Requiring owners of buildings over 20,000 square feet to report emissions annually.
  • Initiating a study of electrification of K-12 school buildings.
  • Ensuring that gas pipeline replacement doesn't conflict with state decarbonization goals.
  • Allowing more input into and time for the future of gas study.
  • Facilitating geothermal heat projects by utilities.
The MA Dept. of Public Utilities may require some gas companies to submit plans for decommissioning the gas infrastructure.
The role and responsibilities of the Mass CEC are significantly expanded by:
  • Tasking them to develop wind industry port infrastructure and job training programs.
  • Establishing and administering an investment fund to support clean energy development through research, construction of infrastructure and other means.
  • Expanding research and development support to nuclear fusion, networked and deep geothermal energy, biofuels, green hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration.
  • Expanding its workforce development programs.
Two Book Suggestions for the Environmentalists on Your Holiday Gift List
Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment: A Citizen’s Agenda for Action
James Gustave Speth 
by Carol Morse

Red Sky at Morning explains why efforts to protect the planet from global warming, deforestation, extreme weather, biodiversity loss and other threats are not working. The author spells out what each of us needs to do, providing a clear path for the road to sustainability.
Among the vital steps he recommends are working internationally for a stable or smaller world population, phasing out 20thcentury technologies that degrade our environment while investing in new green technologies, shifting from unsustainable consumption by individuals and households and, perhaps most important of all, a change in consciousness in our relationship to nature and our responsibility to future generations.

Speth is dean and professor in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and founder and president of the World Resources Institute. He has served as an advisor on environmental issues for Presidents Carter and Clinton.


Life Without Plastic: The Practical Step-by-Step Guide to Avoiding Plastic to Keep Your Family and the Planet Healthy
Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha, founders of Life Without Plastic
by Sue Thomas (Westford Sustainability Coordinator)

For those of you who are not plastics engineers, physicians, biologists or recycling experts, and for all of you, itching to take action, this book provides the science, the plan and step by step guidance on how to protect yourself and your family, as well as the planet, from this “miracle” material.

It will also give you a lot of background that might help you interpret recent headlines. I think the authors are candid about the data gaps and the difficulties, while outlining some achievable goals. This volume can also help you set priorities, since plastic is ubiquitous and the more you look for it, the more you will find. They reference the Environmental Working Group, another great source of information on health concerns in everyday products which may be hazardous. EWG tests and keeps current information on specific products so you can make a specific purchase.

I have not completed the plastic audit tool in the book and instead take the same approach we advocate in Westford’s Climate Roadmap: when I need to replace or purchase something, or find myself in disposal or action mode, I make a change in my habits or institute a substitution.

While this book was published in 2017, much of the science is unchanged, and I venture to guess that few households have implemented all of the recommendations. Should one want to check for updates, the authors maintain a website, where, of course, they sell stuff that is not plastic. However, the goal of sustainability is to buy less, or at least to buy less often, so please start with single-use habits. They also have a newsletter and a blog. I cannot speak to any of these, as I borrowed the book from the library first, and only now am buying a copy second hand so I can reference it indefinitely as I travel the road to life without, or at least with less, plastic.
Copyright © 2022 Westford Climate Action, All rights reserved.

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