Please Thank Your Legislators for Prioritizing Climate Resilience Funding—and Urge Them to Do More!
Our legislature has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to increase support for critical programs that will dictate the future of our environment, communities, and climate resilience – but they need to hear from you. The Massachusetts House of Representatives has released its proposal to spend part of the $5.3 billion funding the Commonwealth received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Please contact your state representatives by Thursday, October 28th to thank them for allocating $350 million towards the environment and climate change mitigation—and ask them to support significant additional funding.
Monday’s proposal is a start, but it’s simply not enough funding to meet the need. With your help over the summer, we successfully advocated for the inclusion of funding for water and sewer infrastructure, environmental infrastructure and climate resilience, and state parks in the proposal.
Additionally, the House proposal makes nonprofit organizations like NepRWA eligible for funding for watershed-wide climate resilience projects and includes funding for the Green the Gateway Communities program (a program that currently includes Quincy).
However, the House proposal falls far below the Governor’s funding recommendation for some key line items, which we believe is the minimum investment necessary to keep our waters clean and help our communities make themselves resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Please contact your State Representatives by Thursday, October 28th to thank them and ask them to increase funding for environmental line items. Please also contact your State Senator to ask them to propose, at minimum, environmental funding at the levels proposed by the Governor:
- Water and sewer infrastructure (Governor proposal: $400 million; House proposal: $100 million)According to a 2017 report by the state auditor, Massachusetts communities have combined water system spending needs in excess of $17 billion. By investing in clean water infrastructure and prioritizing green infrastructure approaches, we can create local jobs that will not only support a post-pandemic economic recovery but will also build our communities’ resilience to climate change. Recall that within the Neponset River Watershed, Norwood Hospital had to close its doors in June 2020 (and remains closed today) due to catastrophic stormwater flooding in a short but intense rain event. Our communities cannot adapt their infrastructure to the increasingly frequent and more intense storm events without the assistance of significant state and federal resources.
- Environmental infrastructure and climate resilience (Governor proposal: $300 million; House proposal: $100 million)This funding would support the state’s existing Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, which provides grants for climate resilience planning and implementation but currently receives many more project applications than it is able to fund.This program has provided funding not only for all of our watershed towns to assess climate resiliency needs, but has also funded crucial action projects such as a comprehensive flood model in Canton. Nature-based solutions are a primary focus of the program, with projects addressing intensifying climate threats like heat islands and flooding. Importantly, the House proposal makes watershed organizations and other non-profits who play a key role in facilitating regional collaboration on climate resilience eligible for this funding. It is unclear, however, how much of the House’s proposed $100 million would go towards the MVP program vs. other, smaller grant programs.
- State park facilities (Governor proposal: $100 million; House proposal: $25 million)Throughout the pandemic, outdoor public spaces were vital as safe places for recreation, a respite from the heat, and solace from social stressors. Parks, both large and small, contribute to public health and climate resilience, providing benefits like cleaner air and water, cooler local temperatures, and reduced localized flooding. Investing in these public spaces supports many other pandemic recovery priorities.
Because the current House proposal only allocates half of the funds available through ARPA, we may have another chance to fund these critical programs sometime in 2022. However, the sooner these funds are made available, the better we can accelerate community efforts to adapt our infrastructure to our changing climate for the benefit of the environment, public health, public safety, and our economy.
Please contact your State Representatives by October 28th. We want to thank House members for including environmental and climate mitigation funding, and for making nonprofits eligible for regional project funding. Please also ask both House and Senate members to increase these investments!
To find your legislator: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator
EXAMPLE PHONE SCRIPT:
Hi. My name is ____________ and I’m a constituent. Thank you for your support of the Neponset River Watershed and for including $350 million to fund environmental priorities through the House ARPA spending proposal. And thank you for making nonprofit organizations eligible for regional climate resiliency projects. I’m calling today because, while the House proposal is a start, it falls far short of the funding needed for critical infrastructure support. Governor Baker’s proposed funding is closer to the resources our communities need to make sure we have clean water and can increase climate change resiliency.
I urge you to ensure that at least $800 million spent on local climate resilience, including:
$400 million for water and sewer infrastructure;
$300 million for Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grants; and
$100 million for state park facilities.
At the very least, please support the following amendments:
Amendment #525 filed by Rep. Dykema, which increases the environmental infrastructure line item (1599-2031) by $50 million to $150 million.
Amendment #893 filed by Rep. Garballey, which increases the water and sewer infrastructure line item (1599-2032) by $50 million to $150 million.
Amendment #709 filed by Rep. Meschino, which prioritizes the decarbonization of transportation and buildings in any ARPA spending and emphasizes environmental justice principles.
Thank you very much!