Outstanding Governor Patrick Calls For Fossil-Free Future

Last week, we reported on Washington State’s Governor Inslee’s strong action on climate change – this week, we’re hearing even more from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony at the University of Massachusetts/ Amherst, Patrick went even further, calling for "a future free of fossil fuels," with a goal of ending conventional coal generation in four years.

We can only hope the state’s next governor is equally as committed to positive change when Patrick’s tenure ends this year.

"Between 2000 and 2012, electricity generated from coal in New England dropped from 18% to 3%, while electricity from oil is down from 22% to less than 1%, he exclaimed. 

Indeed, three of the "filthy five" coal-fired power plants closed during the past few years, and the last two should be shut in the next four years, he said.

Governor Deval Patrick

It’s time for a different kind of Clean Energy Standard, he said:  one that prioritizes energy efficiency first, zero-emission electricity next (solar, wind, hydro), followed by lower-emission electricity – natural gas. He called it "an imperfect choice," that requires diligence on methane and pipeline leaks. 

Our goal should be an "economy driven by homegrown, independent sources of renewable energy, cutting edge technology, and hyper-efficient cars and buildings. It’s a future within our grasp. We don’t have to wait for disaster: the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone, but because humankind imagined a better way and then reached for it."

While the lions share of the speech was about climate change, Patrick also exhorted students to have great careers, but above all to do their work with integrity.

"But above all I hope you will choose to be good citizens. Good citizens take an interest in people and issues outside themselves. They understand community, in the sense of seeing their stake in their neighbors’ dreams and struggles as well as their own. They inform themselves about what’s happening in their community. They volunteer. They listen. They take the long view. They vote."

Under Patrick’s leadership, the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act has a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% by 2050. After reaching the target for its Renewable Energy Portfolio, the state substantially raised it. Besides being one of the top states for solar, it is the most energy efficient in the US. The latest action is a ban on sending food waste to landfills, processing it as biogas instead.

Read our article, Breakthrough Agreement Confines Natural Gas to True Bridge Fuel.

Here’s his speech:

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