Mashpee was the first stop—and the only Cape location—earlier this month on the Massachusetts Clean Energy Future Tour, a statewide initiative to engage citizens on issues of global warming and climate change.
The tour consists of nine public hearings in May and June in various communities across the commonwealth, from the Berkshires to the Cape.
The public hearing at Mashpee Middle/High School’s auditorium on May 8 attracted close to 150 people from throughout Cape Cod and the islands.
The main speakers were State Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco and Senator Julian A. Cyr, a Democrat from Truro who represents the Cape and Islands District that includes Mashpee. State Senator Michael D. Brady, a Democrat from the 2nd Bristol and Plymouth District, also addressed the audience.
In his opening remarks, Sen. Pacheco stressed the urgency of “being part of alleviating the worst effects of climate change.” By 2100, he said, a predicted six-foot sea level rise will split Cape Cod in half, potentially affecting thousands of residences and businesses.
The state, he said, must act to enforce the Global Warming Solutions Act, signed in August 2008, which created a framework for reducing heat-trapping emissions. It requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from each sector of the economy for a total reduction of 25 percent below the 1990 baseline emission level in 2020 and at least an 80 percent reduction in 2050.
More than 100 bills have been filed this year related to reducing these emissions, he said. Some of these bills involve energy efficiency standards for new technologies such as net-zero buildings, while others address renewable energy sources such as solar and offshore wind.
During the hearing, several speakers who said they supported alternative energy sources shared with the senators the negative effects they said that wind turbines have had on their health and their ability to sleep.
The close proximity of some turbines to residential neighborhoods was a significant issue, some residents said.
“The biggest problem was a lack of adequate, pre-construction siting studies,” Falmouth resident Glen Roland said. “I’d say for any future turbines, that they be carefully looked at.”
A Plymouth resident said that vibrations from a wind turbine caused a television monitor to fall from a dresser in his home.
Mashpee resident Charles T. Orloff, who is executive director of Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center in Milton, said that Massachusetts will soon become the only state in the union that does not have a dedicated climatologist.
He called this “extremely embarrassing” for a state that is widely known as a climate science leader.
Sen. Pacheco said he supports a proposal to hire a climatologist at University of Massachusetts Amherst but Governor Charles Baker has so far vetoed the plan.
North Falmouth resident Lillia D. Frantin raised the issue of the safety and environmental impact of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
“We can’t emphasize the importance of clean energy unless it is properly defined,” she said. “It’s important that there be included in explanations of clean energy that nuclear is not clean, not green and not safe.”
James Garb of Yarmouth Port said “nuclear has no place in a clean energy future; we were sold a bill of goods in the 1950s.”
Sen. Pacheco said that “when Pilgrim comes offline [in 2019], the problem we have is to replace that energy with energy that does not have greenhouse gas emissions.”
Marstons Mills resident Amanda Converse, who represented the environmental advocacy group 350.org, spoke about the need “to tax industry for carbon emissions” and adopt a carbon pricing model similar to those in Canada and areas of Europe.
The “safe” threshold for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, she said, is 350 parts per million, which gave the website its name.
“Right now we are at 410 parts per million,” she said.
Other topics raised by residents included potential Eversource rate hikes, the dangers of factory farming and disaster planning for extreme weather events.
Earlier that day, Senators Cyr and Pacheco said, they visited the offices of the US Geological Survey in Woods Hole to discuss issues of coastal resiliency and management.
Pending tour stops include Sudbury, Taunton, Malden and Weymouth.
Residents can use social media to voice their thoughts and can tweet their energy and climate ideas to the committee at @MACleanFuture or by using #MACleanFuture.