Boston Climate Strike Virtual Town Hall Invitation

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Greetings Mr. Robinson,

This is Iris, reaching out on behalf of the Boston Climate Strike Policy team, to invite you to a virtual town hall that we will be hosting on April 21st (the day before Earth Day). Boston Climate Strike is a youth-led organization dedicated to solving the climate crisis while promoting environmental justice and raising awareness about the disproportionate effects of the crisis on frontline communities. During this town hall, our team will give a brief presentation sharing our perspectives on why the issue of climate change still matters during this COVID-19 pandemic as well as the relationship between the climate crisis and environmental justice.

We’d like to spend the majority of the time during this town hall, however, asking direct questions to you and other candidates for the Massachusetts 4th congressional district. We will ask about your plans to craft legislation combating climate change, your perspective on environmental justice, and your opinion on how the Coronavirus Crisis relates to the climate crisis. We may also spend a portion of time asking questions to the candidates for the Massachusetts senate (Joe Kennedy and Ed Markey).

We are well aware that we’re reaching out at a relatively last-minute time, but we believe that this could be an excellent opportunity for you to broaden your audience via this platform. To be clear, this town hall would not be formatted like a debate, and we would not be endorsing you or any of the other candidates involved. Instead, the goal is to give you all an opportunity to answer some questions and talk about your perspective on the climate movement. 

If you are interested, please reach out to us at policy@bostonclimatestrike.org and we would be more than happy to set up a time to meet with you and discuss the details of our town hall. 

All the best, 

Iris Liebman

Policy Team

Boston Climate Strike 

 

 

I haven't received time or URL particulars.  I will post when I get them.  Boston Climate Strike is here:  www.bostonclimatestrike.org.  The tentative time they gave me for the event is from 4pm to 8pm.

Before we make plans going forward, we need to look at what has been done in the past.  I tend to focus on the positive, because that's what we need going forward.  The first part of this comes from the history page for the National Renewable Energy Laboritory.

The first earth day was launched in 1970 by Denis Hayes.

My first exposure to renewable energy came when I was an Engineering student at Cornell, circa 1974, a group of us were chatting with our TA about how solving the nuclear fusion problem was the answer to our needs for safe energy.  The TA turned the tables on us by saying that we had already solved the nuclear fusion problem we just had to learn how to convert the output as he looked up at the sun.  The professor he worked for was involved in making silicon devices that converted light into electricity -- so, some technical people in academia have been working on solar energy since at least 1974. 

The Solar Energy Research Institute, SERI, was called for by President Gerald Ford in 1974.

SERI is finally established in 1977, when it is made a high priority by President Jimmy Carter.  The Denis Hayes who started earth day serves as the directory of SERI from 1979 through 1981.

Note that up until 1980, renewable energy had bi-partisan support.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president and renewable energy development was seriously curtailed, but the enemies of renewable energy never managed to get rid of it.  Note that Ronald Reagan also brought us "tinkle-down economics" and a huge increase in the amount influence rich people had on our political system.  This influence of big money initiated the war on poor people which can be seen in so many places, but minimum wage stagnation is a very direct and easy to document effect.

SERI was renamed the National Renewable Energy Laboratories in 1991 to better reflect that it's mission was (even at that time) all renewable energy, not just solar. 

In this century, we see technologies developed by NREL transition to private companies and develop into world wide solar and energy development on a large scale.  A few examples of this are

  • Solar Power
  • Solar Hot Water Heating
  • Wind Power
  • Electric Vehicles

These are all examples of how private industry has been advancing Green energy in spite of an almost total lack of support from the Federal Government.

We need to look at the past to see what works in order to come up with a plan going forward.

For starters, the COVID-19 crisis shows how bad the Federal Government is at accomplishing large projects.  Some individual state governments are doing a much better jobs than the Federal Government and, AFIK, none of them are doing worse.  States are using resources from the federal level, but the important decisions are being made locally.

A lot of the blame for Federal inaction falls directly onto Donald Trump, but not all of it.  The Republican House failed to replenish the stockpile of N95 masks from 2010-2016 (Donny Boy also neglected this from 2017-2020).  The Bush Administration identified a lack of ventilators as a serious problem and started a project to stockpile them 8 years before Donny Boy took office, but the government failed to finish the project (at least so far).  Now, the company that is contracted to deliver them is selling us a panic shipment of units that cost more than 4 times as much.

This is not Democrats vs. Republicans.  This is happening because of the money that all of them are taking:

Rich people are paying Congress to cut their taxes to levels that are so low the government can't function.

Rich people are paying Congress to allow corporations to get away with jeopardizing the pubic safety without consequences.

If we don't fix the money and stop electing Candidates who think the only real job requirement is to raise money, we will never fix this.

First, we have to find the money.  We can't plan anything until we know what our budget is.

I think the money comes from two places:

  1. Fix Capital Gains tax so that it promotes investment (as opposed to legalized gambling in the stock market).  The short summary is that we tax capital gains as ordinary income unless it's from investment in something that serves the public good.
  2. Take a lesson from Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin D Roosevelt -- the 20th Century Presidents who really made America Great:  Raise taxes on rich people and corporations so they are paying their fair share.

This is a climate emergency, if we come up with some giant plan that is executed entirely by the Federal Government, it will probably never even get started.  Also, in the past 10 years, private industry has done the bulk of the heavy lifting with respect to addressing climate change.  There are bad corporations out there, but there are a lot of good ones, too.

We need to look at each thing we want to get accomplished and pick the correct venue to get it done.  For example,

  • We use tax incentives to convert our personal transportation to electric vehicles.
  • We converting Amtrak from fossil fuel as a Federal project. 
  • We convert local rail with Federal Block grants.
  • We establish a new federal research agency to research long term plans for new modes of transportation:  We need transportation equivalent of NREL, because our existing modes do not work well.  Individual transport (i.e., cars) doesn't scale, because we can't just keep making highways bigger.  Rail doesn't scale because it's too inflexible. 

I am giving examples here, because I am working a full time job while running for office and don't have time to research every aspect of the Green New Deal.  For that matter, I think the Green New Deal is so big that one person can't keep track of the whole thing.  Which kind of says that legislation supporting it has be be general and support widespread independent activity, not some huge master plan overseen (aka impeded) by the Federal Government.

I'm not sure whether these should be considered part of the Green New Deal or just things we need to get done, but I want to see the following happen immediately:

  • Increase the minimum wage to $18 per hour.
  • Implement a single payer Medicare option. It should be rolled out incrementally so it is available in the regions with the fewest choices first.
  • Campaign Finance Reform -- We can't fix anything unless we fix the money.

In terms of social justice issues that are directly related to Global Warming, I definitely include the following

  • Retrain fossil fuel workers for new, good paying, jobs.
  • Make sure where possible that all new Green jobs are union jobs.
  • Make people whole if there home becomes unlivable due to global climate change.  That includes relocation to a safe community if the local becomes unsafe due to rising sea levels.  I would include limits on how much is spent per person to keep the wealthy from abusing this.
  • For all disaster relief, I would also make the Federal agencies do a follow-up inventory of all damaged homes and businesses and account for why any of them weren't replaced.  The idea is that they need to ensure that everyone gets taken care of, not just people in the wealthy towns that are better at working the Federal Bureaucrats.