Today | Gas utilities are expected to file a report with the Department of Public Utilities on Friday detailing their vision for the natural gas industry in Massachusetts, according to the attorney general’s office.
12 p.m. | New England Council hosts in-person luncheon event with U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who served two terms as mayor of Boston before he joined President Biden’s Cabinet.
2 p.m. | Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, co-chair of Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, holds a community informational session on police reform legislation enacted last session and progress within the state’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission.
Good Friday morning. Hey, Gov. Charlier Baker, that Dropkick Murphy’s show at the House of Blues last night was pretty awesome, right? We think so. The Shipping Up to Boston encore was amazing.
Now that we know how the governor enjoyed his St. Patrick’s Day, on to the news.
How would you spend $1 billion if you had it? In reality, it’s more money than most of us can fathom. But the Massachusetts Port Authority is working with a plan to spend that much money over the next 10 years to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.
It’s an ambitious plan by any stretch of the imagination considering the state set its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. But nonetheless, where there’s money, there’s a way (or however you want to alter that saying).
In essence, the largest part of the plan boils down to aviation fuel, one of the largest contributors of emissions within Massport and the U.S. aviation industry as a whole. A pair of consultants who spoke with the quasi-public agency’s board of directors Thursday morning, suggested switching out regular aviation fuel with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
That would tie into the Biden administration’s goal of increasing SAF production to 3 billion gallons by 2030. But the larger challenge associated with the plan has to do with convincing companies, tenants, and contractors who interact with Massport to reduce their emissions.
One board member likened that to a “leap of faith.” I’ve got more from yesterday morning’s meeting, including a back and forth between board member John Nucci and Massport CEO Lisa Wieland.
And it’s important to note that not everyone is on board with what Massport is proposing. Boston Globe’s David Abel reports that under the plan — which is really more of a sketch — only 12.5 percent of Massport’s emissions would be subject to reduction.
Nucci raised concerns about that point yesterday, questioning whether a $1 billion investment would only be purchasing a 12.5 percent carbon emission reduction. It’s one way to look at the issue, Wieland said, adding that the money would also support initiatives aimed at reducing emissions in areas that the agency doesn’t control.
Still, Abel writes that people like Sen. Mike Barrett say the plan “lacks imagination,” while one environmental activist in Boston has concerns about the clarity of the proposal. The general takeaway from critics? More is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Massport.
Wieland preferred to see the glass half full.
“Let’s make sure we are reducing 100 percent of what we can control while simultaneously making investments, and forming partnerships, and coalitions that will help them and encourage them to reduce their emissions on an accelerated basis,” she said.
Brown University dean to serve as federal COVID coordinator
A prominent public health academic in Providence is heading to Washington to serve as President Biden’s new White House COVID-19 response coordinator. Providence Journal’s G. Wayne Miller reports Brown University School of Public Health Dean Dr. Ashish Jha will replace Jeffrey Zients, who held the post for the last 14 months.
Baker unveils $9.7B infrastructure bond bill
A new spending bill from Gov. Charlie Baker looks to put $9.7 billion to work for highways and the MBTA. MassLive’s Alison Kuznitz reports that the infrastructure bond bill includes $5.4 billion in highway funding, $2.2 billion for the T, $591 million for regional transit authorities, and $1.4 billion for environmental infrastructure projects.
Mass. deer test positive for COVID antibodies
Roughly 15 percent of white tail deer in Massachusetts have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. GBH News’ Craig LeMoult reports the virus has been detected in deer in other states, but the USDA-led study is the first confirmation that deer have been infected in Massachusetts.
More from LeMoult: “While deer-to-human transmission has only happened in one documented case, experts’ primary concern is that widespread infection in the deer population offers additional sites for the virus to mutate.”
Twenty newspapers to stop publishing print editions
A slate of local newspapers west of Boston are planning to stop publishing print editions. Boston Business Journal’s Don Seiffert 20 newspapers owned by Gannett will instead “exclusively offer news online,” according to the company.
Here’s some of the papers stopping their print editions according to Seiffert: The Newton Tab, the Brookline Tab, Needham Times; the Eagle Independant, the Kingston Reporter; the Wayland Town Crier, the Chronicle and Transcript, the Pembroke Mariner; the Courier & Sentinal, the Waltham News Tribune, The Register, the Weston Town Crier. and the Sudbury Town Crier.
Commute times in Massachusetts are horrible
This probably won’t come as a surprise to most of our readers: the commute in Massachusetts sucks. Well, as Boston Globe’s Daigo Fujiwara and Christina Prignano report, that’s because the state holds the title for the fourth-longest commute time among all states in the country.
More from the Globe duo: “New data released by the US Census Bureau on Thursday showed that Massachusetts has the fourth-longest commute time among states, with the average worker’s trip to the office clocking in right at 30 minutes. That’s an increase on average of 2.7 minutes from 2010, the last time such data was available.”
Staffers grow antsy as EEO officer role sits vacant
Boston Globe’s Samantha Gross reports some State House staffers are squawking, albeit anonymously, about the failure of House leadership to fill an independent Equal Employment Officer position that has sat vacant for 15 months despite being created to much fanfare in 2018 amid a State House reckoning over the MeToo movement.
Masks must stay on in Northampton schools
The Northampton School Committee voted Thursday to keep the district’s mask-wearing mandate in place for the time being, citing recommendations from local health officials, Brian Steele of the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.
Hunger strike begins in protest of Peabody gas plant
A half-dozen climate change activists say they will stage a hunger strike in the hopes of drawing both local and national attention to their opposition to a proposed natural gas-powered power plant in Peabody. Sophie Yarin of the Lynn Item reports the group has a specific list of demands, including calling on Gov. Baker to order a more in-depth study of the proposal and on lawmakers to investigate why an alternative plan focusing on battery storage of power to serve the grid during peak demand times was bypassed.
Mansfield board member wants light shed on police chief mystery
A member of the Mansfield select board wants an outside investigator brought in to shed light on the job status of the town’s police chief, saying residents have a right to know who is leading the department after nine months of silence from town leaders who say they are simply following employee privacy protocols. The Sun-Chronicle’s David Linton has the details.
Decision on Sandwich superintendent could come next week
A decision on who will serve as the next superintendent of schools in Sandwich could come as soon as next week. WCAI’s Jennette Barnes reports three finalists are battling for the position and will interview with the Sandwich School Committee on Wednesday.
Two munis looking at combined EMT services
A pair of Massachusetts town are exploring whether they can share emergency medical services. Clarence Fanto for the Berkshire Eagle reports Richmond and West Stockbridge are weighing a partnership that would see two full-time professional firefighters/EMTs hired amid a shortage of volunteer EMTs.
Keller: The GOP’s botched gas tax uprising
On this week’s Keller at Large, Jon Keller takes a hard look at the recent GOP push to suspend the state’s gas tax amid rising costs at the pump. Keller’s take: “This episode doesn’t speak well of the GOP’s ability to capitalize on what should have been a platinum political opportunity.”
Sunday Public Affairs: Nick Collins, Chris Sununu, and more
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m.: State Sen. Nick Collins, host of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, about what to expect as the event returns in-person, economic development in the port of Boston, and the status of sports betting on Beacon Hill.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m.: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with hosts Maria Stephanos and Janet Wu followed by a roundtable discussion with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5, Sunday 12 p.m.: NAACP National board member and chairman of the board’s Advocacy and Policy Committee Michael Curry talks about the racial issues at the Ukraine border. And: Comedian, actor and writer Tone Bell makes the connection between politics and comedy.
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