BOSTON (State House News Service) —Sharing the stage with a leader of the European Union's executive branch, Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday again touted Massachusetts' role in sparking "the equivalent of a gold rush" in offshore wind and said the Bay State stands alone when it comes to preparing cities and towns for the effects of a changing climate.
The governor's comments came in New York City at the 2022 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, put on by former President Bill Clinton's foundation to coincide with Climate Week and the United Nations General Assembly. Baker was part of a panel that touched upon the dynamic between decarbonization and climate resilience, and it also included European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and Carbon Direct Vice Chair Nili Gilbert.
"This is on a small scale -- we're just a state -- but I'm pretty sure we're the only state in the country that's done vulnerability planning in all of our communities and has actually started to spend money on dealing with many of those vulnerability plans and the issues that were raised by them," Baker said. He added, "And I know resiliency isn't the sexiest part of this whole drill, but if your community floods out every time it rains, or if the main bridge that people get in and out of your community floods out every time it thinks about raining, you have serious, negative consequences to those communities that we should be addressing along the way here. And I'm really proud of the fact that we are, for all intents and purposes, the only state I know of that really went hard at this resiliency piece."
As of last month, 341 of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts (97 percent of towns and representing more than 99 percent of the state's population) were part of the state's Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program to get help making infrastructure more resilient against climate change. Since its creation by executive order in 2017, programs similar to MVP have been adopted by a number of other American states.
The governor on Monday also repeated one of his favorite boasts, that the 2016 clean energy law he signed "translated into sort of the equivalent of a gold rush because the price point we got on it really did shock the world in some respects and people suddenly realized you could do offshore wind at a price point that was consistent with other forms of energy."
"Almost every state up and down the East Coast suddenly decided to get into the space as soon as that first procurement came down," Baker said.
Written By Colin A. Young/SHNS