The speaker of the Massachusetts House made it clear Wednesday that leadership on the huge issue of climate change and coastal resilience starts at the top.
Speaker Robert DeLeo told about 100 business leaders at a North Shore Chamber of Commerce breakfast the impact of climate change is very high on his list of issues he wants the Legislature to tackle this year, along with the opioid abuse crisis, school funding and the beleaguered state transportation system.
DeLeo recently unveiled his “GreenWorks” plan, which entails spending $1.3 billion on climate change adaptation and resiliency projects through a grant program for cities and towns. This is clearly good news for North Shore coastal communities, which are already planning for the impacts of storm surge and coastal erosion predicted in the coming years in places like Gloucester.
Even as climate change denial is perpetuated from some quarters in Washington, D.C., officials and residents in coastal communities are taking this growing problem seriously. And many of the projects to prepare for climate change effects will cost money, something DeLeo’s plan would help cover. The proposal would help pay for projects to prepare for climate change, clean energy production, energy storage and lowering carbon emissions — a major cause of rising temperatures worldwide.
In his speech to the North Shore business crowd in Marblehead on Wednesday, DeLeo was attentive to the interest in that room for improving the economy and creating jobs, as well.
“This legislation builds on our nation-leading green policies by putting funds directly into the hands of the communities,” DeLeo said, in coverage by Statehouse reporter Christian Wade. “Not only will our communities be greener and more resilient, but these projects will also create jobs.”
Picking the biggest challenge facing the region is no easy task, and one on which many people might disagree. The list of concerns can be long: storm surge, beach erosion, and the risks to sewage treatment plants, water systems and the power grid.
But recognition by the governor’s office and DeLeo that we’re in for a host of problems if we don’t confront the climate change crisis head on — and commit to spending money where it’s most needed — is crucial.