This year’s Massachusetts Gubernatorial election has three Democrat, two Republican, and three Independent candidates pitted against one another to replace Deval Patrick as state governor (WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, offers brief bios of all these candidates on their website). It can be hard to tell the difference, sometimes, between them—especially those Democrats, the Republicans offering one moderate and one Tea-Party affiliate (see “Few similarities between Baker, Fisher at cordial debate,” by Joshua Miller of The Boston Globe).
In light of all that confusion, we thought we’d step in and take a look at the candidate’s campaign websites to try to decipher how the Democratic and Republican candidates present themselves regarding issues of particular importance to us—namely, efficient technologies, green buildings, and the electric grid—issues that we’ve tweeted, blogged, and chatted about for a while now, even if they’re not as hot in this 2014 race as, say, taxes or education.
Martha Coakley (D)
On Coakley’s campaign website, her Issues section groups together energy and the environment, concisely presenting four bullet points of policy (two of which specifically address our green buildings issue) that she goes on to flesh out in seven pages titled “Rising to the Challenge: Addressing climate change and protecting the environment.” She doesn’t specifically address the efficient technologies most relevant to our business, but does perceptively acknowledge the significant challenge grid modernization poses to utility companies.
“As Governor, I will be committed to… [modernizing] our grid and utility regulation to ensure that electric and gas utilities have the right rules and incentives to more rapidly deploy energy efficiency and renewable energy. … We need to continue adding to our renewable energy toolbox and implement smart net-metering rules, long term contracts for renewable energy to provide certainty in the market, flexible financing, incentives for energy storage so intermittent renewable energy can be more viable, and streamlined interconnection.”
Don Berwick (D)
Within the issues section of Don Berwick’s campaign website are two different pages for energy and the environment—maybe because both Energy and Environment pages feature lengthy write-ups, clearly demonstrating Berwick’s desire to, as he puts it, “reduce our carbon footprint and protect our precious natural resources.” The Energy page, less focused on portraying climate change in all its apocalyptic horror and more practical, concluding with a bullet-point pledge, explains the necessity to improve the electric grid in a way that’s not the most usual: that it’s literally, physically broken.
“Our gas and electric infrastructure, like our transportation infrastructure, is fraying, and it will require investment in order to meet twenty-first century performance needs. …It will take resources to modernize the electric grid and replace miles of leak-prone gas pipelines. …There are two main ways to [address climate change]… [One is to] decarbonize our electric grid through energy efficiency and renewable power, like wind and solar.”
Steve Grossman (D)
Steve Grossman’s Issues umbrella page contains full write-ups for each of the issues of importance to him, “Energy & the Environment” being the briefest along with “Earned Sick Time.” All that content fitting on a single page means that his discussion has been condensed to a palatable length, fitting for our short online attention spans—a quality that goes along with Grossman’s modern-looking campaign website as a whole. Grossman doesn’t get too specific, then, in his “Energy & the Environment” section—and instead, like Coakley and Berwick, expresses his sympathy with the work of Governor Patrick.
“Steve is fully committed to achieving the goals of Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act – reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. We can do this by promoting efficient heating technologies…”
Charlie Baker (R)
Neither energy nor the environment are featured on the Issues page of Baker’s campaign website. In the past, Baker has been characterized as “struggling to appeal to both camps” (CBS) when it comes to climate change, acknowledging its existence but never coming close to the passionate rhetoric of his Democratic challengers. According to OnTheIssues.org, however, Baker’s campaign website for the 2010 Gubernatorial election suggested focusing on energy efficient technologies as a way to “protect and preserve our natural resources for future generations. “Massachusetts can and must be a leader in promoting strong environmental policies,” he said.
“Focus on energy efficiency. Given that only a limited amount of electricity can be generated within Massachusetts, the state should focus more heavily on energy efficiency as a way to lower energy costs. …LED lighting is extremely energy efficient but is still cost prohibitive to many homeowners and businesses. The state should offer a rebate program for businesses and homeowners to encourage the transition from traditional lighting to LED lighting.”
Mark Fisher (R)
Although Mark Fisher’s campaign website does include an Issues page titled “Climate Change/Environmental,” this tea-party affiliated candidate does not seem to support the idea that climate change exists—and so includes no comment addressing our three issues of importance. His is the only energy and environment page, however, that points visitors in the direction of other reading, such as “Father of Climatology Throws Up at the Thought of Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’”
“Let’s treat unfounded, unscientific, and unreproducible environmental claims with the healthy skepticism they deserve.”