Earth Day Remarks

By:  Deval Patrick
Date: April 25, 2013
Location: Boston, MA

Thank you, Dr. Reif, for your warm welcome. At the outset, I want to acknowledge last week's tragedies and the grief they caused the MIT community. Yesterday's tribute to Officer Sean Collier was beautiful and fitting. I hope it will provide some comfort to his family, friends and colleagues, and to every member of this community.

One shining remnant of this experience has been the re-emergence of a strong sense of community, the notion of common stake and common cause. Whether the bravery of our first responders, the supreme professionalism of our medical teams, or the acts of random kindness by ordinary citizens, our strength of community has been on display for the world and, most of all, for each other. Hold on to that. I am convinced that there isn't a single challenge that we face in this state or in this country that can't be surmounted by a renewed sense that we have a stake in each other's dreams and struggles as well as our own.

Happy Earth Day -- belatedly.

Five years ago, we in Massachusetts took a fresh look at our energy future. Energy in Massachusetts has long been relatively costly. With no oil, coal or natural gas of our own, we are at the end of the pipeline and are subject to the whims of a global energy market. We bear the economic and environmental costs associated with finding, extracting and transporting fuels from all corners of the world.

So, in 2008, we moved three pieces of legislation to help move us toward a clean energy future.

First, the Green Communities Act enabled us to set ambitious goals for renewable energy: 250 megawatts of solar by 2017 and 2,000 megawatts of wind by 2020. Mind you, the Commonwealth produced just three megawatts of each when I took office.

We also took the green revolution to the grassroots level, working with cities and towns to incentivize energy efficiency and clean alternatives, reducing our energy consumption one municipality, one business and one resident at a time.

Second, the Global Warming Solutions Act authorized us to drive toward long-term goals to address climate change. We set out on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

And third, the Green Jobs Act established the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to be sure that while we invest in energy efficiency and renewables, we are capturing the opportunities to foster innovation and create jobs. We spend billions every year to buy energy -- and 80 percent of that spend goes out of Massachusetts. With the world in the midst of an energy revolution, we were convinced that if we got this right, the world would be our customer.

We saw economic and environmental imperatives, formed a comprehensive plan, and put these three pieces of legislation in place to execute the plan. I am here to report that it is working.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has ranked Massachusetts the number one state in energy efficiency for two consecutive years -- ahead of long-time leader California. This is a direct result of the Mass Save program, our coordinated effort with the Commonwealth's utilities, residents and business owners to reduce energy costs and consumption with common sense measures like insulation and efficient home heating products.

We invest more than 80 percent of proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative back into efficiency programs. That matters. We require utilities to offer nation-leading programs and incentives for their customers to help their homes and businesses run on less.

Remember I told you that Massachusetts produced three megawatts of solar energy when I took office? We installed more than 100 megawatts of solar power last year alone -- ranking us sixth last year in total capacity added. Of our 351 cities and towns, 342 have at least one solar installation. We will reach our 2017 goal of 250 megawatts way ahead of schedule.

And we're getting the jobs from it. The 2012 Solar Foundation Jobs Report ranks Massachusetts 4th in the nation in total jobs in the sector and we have more than 200 solar installation companies operating in the Commonwealth.

Indeed, the clean energy sector is one of the fast growing in the Commonwealth. There are nearly 5,000 clean energy firms in Massachusetts today, employing some 72,000 people -- an impressive 11.2 percent growth in jobs in just the last year.

Wind is an alternative we have encouraged as well. Nantucket Sound is poised to be home to the nation's first offshore wind farm. And Charlestown is home to the largest indoor wind blade testing facility in the world.

And this means more jobs. The U.S. Department of Energy projects 20,000 jobs by 2020 in offshore wind. Why not host those jobs here in Massachusetts?

And alongside the growth of our clean and alternative energy sector, we are protecting our open space. We see that as a companion part of environmental stewardship. As of last summer we had protected over 100,000 acres of land -- 100,987 to be exact. That's more than 50 acres each day since I took office, and a Massachusetts record.

Working together with conservationists, environmentalists, residents and local leaders, we have increased the amount of protected space by 25 percent to 1.25 million acres and, for the first time, exceeded the amount of developed land. Our land and park legacy has touched every corner of the state -- from Provincetown to Sheffield.

We have much to be proud of and much still to learn. But the point is that we are not leaving a better and brighter future to chance. We are choosing growth, investing today in a sustainable tomorrow.

That means not letting up. It also means thinking ahead to what's next.

We see water innovation as the next opportunity for Massachusetts to seize. After a trade mission to Israel, we began working with a host of international partners to further develop the existing water innovation cluster in Massachusetts. The same concentration of brainpower in this and other world-class universities and research facilities that spawned and feeds the life sciences and high tech revolution in Massachusetts is at the center of this next big push in water innovation. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is working to do government's part in cultivating this sector and the economic and environmental benefits for the next generation.

Meanwhile, Secretary Sullivan has launched a new web tool to engage citizens in monitoring, measuring and ultimately contributing in personal ways to the work of cutting carbon emissions.

I have directed the Secretary and his team to take a fresh look at the incentives that have so successfully grown the solar industry in Massachusetts and expand our solar carve-out program to ensure certainty for the financing world, affordability for consumers, and stability for the market.

We have expanded our Solarize Mass program to allow all of the Commonwealth's cities and towns to participate. Earlier this month we selected 10 communities -- from Williamstown to Bourne - for the current round. These municipalities will work with us to reduce costs for residents and businesses on solar.

Construction has started at the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. It will serve as a high-capacity port equipped to handle large industrial and marine cargo and will be America's first purpose-built facility for the assembly, construction, and deployment of offshore wind projects. Everyone else is in a race for second.

So, we are not letting up. There is much more to do and much more to learn. We will all have to increase the pace of innovation and also our tolerance for failure, as we try new things and new ways to be the best stewards of our environment and of our economy. Sitting still and waiting for the future to happen to us is not a formula for leadership or success.

And we will have to continue to work together. In that spirit, let me thank the many here who have coached, counseled and partnered with my team on these many initiatives. And I want to ask our Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rick Sullivan and our commissioners and staff to stand and be recognized for their outstanding work. Where we lead the Nation, it's because of them.

Whether we like it or not, there will be winners and losers in clean energy in the 21st Century. The winners will be those who did everything they could to be ready for change and created an atmosphere for and a culture of innovation. Thanks to you and many others, Massachusetts is ready. Let's not let up.

Thank you for having me.