House Speaker Ronald Mariano pledged to make the South Coast a “hub of wind energy for the region” as he pushed a $10 million plan to create jobs and make the Bay State a leader in the burgeoning industry.
“The United States is on the cusp of an offshore wind energy revolution, and Massachusetts should lead the way,” Mariano said Thursday.
Mariano pitched his vision of a wind-driven future during an address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. He spoke of a “large-scale bonding effort” and said the House would commit $10 million of its budget to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to prioritize job training programs that would funnel workers toward offshore wind construction.
The South Coast “has the potential to be a hub of wind energy for the region,” Mariano said. “But we cannot be successful if we don’t have the infrastructure or the skilled workers needed to support the industry.”
Mariano said Vineyard Wind – which the Biden administration is expected to approve soon – is “just the start.”
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said Mariano’s commitment shows “Massachusetts is in it to win it” with offshore wind.
“As New Bedford has positioned itself to become America’s leader in offshore wind, just as we are in commercial fishing, we are grateful for this type of forward-leaning support from the speaker,” Mitchell said in a statement.
Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, called Mariano’s efforts “a big deal” because he said Massachusetts needs large-scale investments to “have a competitive advantage against other states” in offshore wind.
Mariano on Thursday spoke at length about the need for a skill credentialing system to help match job-seekers to employers.
And he said the Legislature would be cracking down on how the state spends its federal COVID-19 relief, beginning with a committee hearing next week that’s expected to feature a Biden administration briefing.
The Legislature has been ramping up oversight of the state’s coronavirus response. Lawmakers have grilled Gov. Charlie Baker over his rocky vaccine rollout in two hearings now, and several bills have been filed seeking to limit his executive power as the pandemic state of emergency stretches into a second year.
Baker “used his executive powers I think extremely well at the beginning” of the crisis, Mariano said, adding that while there have been “hiccups” since, “all in all, he’s been a willing partner.”
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