Climate change doesn’t recognize municipal boundaries, and flooding mitigation requires a regional approach. As a state representative, I am committed to expanding regional planning for cross-municipal flood-prone areas like the intersection of North Cambridge, Arlington, and Belmont.”- Jen Fries
Jen has been a dedicated Climate Activist since the late 1990s and has been honored to receive the endorsement of Sunrise Boston. Jen understands that the district, state, and nation need immediate and sustained Climate Action. Climate change is here now, and low-income communities and communities of color in the 24th Middlesex are particularly vulnerable to increased flooding and heat waves; climate action is an issue of racial and economic justice, and we need to treat it as such. While Jen is focused on structural policy change, she has also made personal everyday commitments to climate action by installing solar panels on her house and commuting on the MBTA.
- We must address and eliminate harmful carbon emissions from transportation, home heating, electricity generation, building and manufacturing, and other sources. Let’s position Massachusetts as a leader in green energy research, manufacturing, technology, and jobs.
- Jen is a staunch supporter of Representatives Marjorie Decker and Sean Garballey’s bill to shift Massachusetts to 100% net zero emissions by 2045, including the energy consumed for electricity, heating and cooling, transportation, agricultural uses, industrial uses, and all other uses.
- Jen also will champion Rep. Lori Erlich’s FUTURE bill, which shifts the state from natural gas heating to geothermal and addresses dangerous gas leaks.
- The proposed 2050 Road Map bill is a step in the right direction, “a plan to make a plan”, but it won’t get us to net zero until 2090; by then, parts of the district will be 7 feet underwater.
- We need to overhaul our energy sector, and investment in green infrastructure can keep our energy dollars in state and produce good jobs here. Jen is committed to:
- Investing in offshore wind energy procurements
- Supporting research jobs in Capacity of Energy Storage for generated renewable energy (batteries)
- Make pathways for utilities to shift home heating from natural gas to geothermal energy.
- Incentivizing utilities to identify gas leaks and repair infrastructure by ensuring that they cannot charge customers for gas lost in leaks.
- State policy can do more to support our transition to solar and wind energy. Jen believes that:
- The State government must eliminate restrictions on net metering to allow for citizens who take on the personal task of implementing solar panels to be able to offset the high costs of installation.
- We must update the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Clean Energy Standard (CES) to greatly increase the percentage of renewable power in the state’s portfolio by 2030 and 2040, and add more ambitious milestones, with teeth, to the Road Map bill. We can update and increase the RPS and the CES in more rapid and ambitious steps, with higher solar carveouts, to require retail electricity vendors to procure and generate a higher percentage of their electricity from renewables.
- Panels on state property will allow us to harness easily accessible energy.
- We must reinvest in the SMART incentives program, which replaced the SREC program.
- Jen recognizes that the installation of new Gas Lines in and throughout Massachusetts must be halted, as residents and the state as a whole continue to lose millions of dollars annually from gas lines and leaks, and live with the threat of explosions, due to infrastructure that has consistently been neglected.
- Jen also recognizes that the current state of transportation in the Commonwealth produces ⅓ of all carbon emissions and that this is an unacceptable figure.
- We need our MBTA to be safe, reliable, affordable, and clean. When we go back to work, the T needs to work for us again. A major investment in the T will improve our economy and improve our air quality.
- A carbon tax in the state will decentivize use of carbon emitting cars, and give the state an extra 12-20 billion dollars of funding to be used in environmental policies. Jen recognizes that this tax on its own would be inherently regressive, and that any bill implementing this tax would need to give money back to low- and moderate-income and rural residents through an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Jen understands that a key component in reducing the transportation sector’s reliance on carbon is increasing the reliability, functionality, and accessibility of public transport, and also pushing the MBTA to electrification.
Mitigating the effects of climate change
- Currently the district is subject to severe flooding and storms—especially in the low lying heart of the district—and that these problems could become so much worse if the Mystic River Dam were to overflow.
- Climate change doesn’t recognize municipal boundaries, and flooding mitigation requires a regional approach. As a state representative, Jen is committed to expanding regional planning for cross-municipal flood-prone areas like the intersection of North Cambridge, Arlington, and Belmont.
- Jen will lead efforts to ensure that the contaminated soil at the former W.R. Grace site undergoes a risk profile of potential effects to residents, including residents in nearby public housing, if the low-lying area near Russell Field is flooded.
- Jen will work to address heat islands through programs to plant more trees and care for them in identified heat islands.
- Jen has pledged to fight for the passing of Senator DiDomenico’s bill on Environmental Justice.
- Jen knows that throughout our history, local policy has placed the construction of waste plants and fuel generators—Weymouth Compressor Station for example—in low income communities and subjected their residents to adverse health effects for decades, while also keeping positive work projects like parks from these communities.
- Jen realizes that the issue of flooding in the district is also an issue of Environmental Justice, as the areas that are endangered are also where the majority of the affordable housing is located. These areas are vulnerable to the spread of contaminants, including asbestos, from the former GCP Chemical site if catastrophic flooding or storm surges occur.
- Jen is not only committed to making 100% renewables a reality in Massachusetts, but also to ensure that the transition itself provides good paying jobs and does not leave anyone behind—including those that are currently working in the Fossil Fuel Industry.
- That is why Jen believes that any Green New Deal oriented policy and shift to renewables should also center the voices of unions across the state, and that a task force—like the one presented in H. 2836—should be created to ensure the fair transition.