SJSF Statement on Governor Patrick’s UMass Commencement Address

As young people in Massachusetts, we were proud and excited to hear Governor Patrick articulate a vision for a “future free of fossil fuels” during his commencement address at the University of Massachusetts. For too long, fossil fuels have sickened communities and threatened our generation with catastrophic climate change. The Governor has already been a strong advocate for climate and clean energy, and on Friday we were thrilled to see him answer the call of history set himself apart as a true leader.
The Governor called to shut down all coal plants in Massachusetts within the next four years and never again burn high-emission energy sources in our state. Coming on the heels of Stanford University’s divestment from coal and just ahead of President Obama’s new Clean Air Act regulations, the Governor’s words strengthened the growing tide of political and economic forces that have begun to move our society beyond coal.

We were excited to see the Governor reaffirm that climate action will result in a stronger, more resilient economy. With high hopes and expectations, we embrace the Governor’s proposal for a new Clean Energy Standard to “ensure that, at every point in time, at every moment, we are getting the cleanest energy possible.” As the Governor named, our society must strive to meet our energy needs first through the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency and then through zero-carbon renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower. SJSF looks forward to ensuring that the fossil fuel industry and its allies do not block this urgent and necessary progress as they have in the past.  This work must include strong measures to support a just transition for the communities affected by this shift.

Too few politicians address the true dangers of natural gas, so we were pleased that the Governor explicitly named the need to address the methane leaks and environmental concerns associated with both our own pipelines and plants as well as those at the extraction site. His words placed him on the cutting edge of leadership within the Democratic Party on climate action and responsible energy policy. Governor Patrick has set the bar for what a climate champion should be.