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Extinction Rebellion Boston disrupts Governor Healey's keynote speech at Climatetech Summit, calls on her to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure

On Thursday November 2, two climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Boston (XR) disrupted Governor Maura Healey's keynote speech at the Climatetech Summit to demand that the Healey administration ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. The summit, hosted by Greentown Labs (which partners include fossil fuel companies such as BP, Chevron, Shell, and National Grid)1, advertised that in "in this keynote we’ll hear insights into how the Healey administration is working to continue driving Massachusetts’s leadership as the epicenter of incubation and scaling next-generation technology, in addition to addressing environmental injustices and fostering well-paying jobs to drive positive change and economic growth in the state."2

The activists communicated that they would cease targeting and disrupting the Governor once she made a public statement committing her administration to opposing all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including the expansion of airports and gas connections in new buildings. They wore shirts with the Extinction Rebellion symbol, an hourglass representing that we are running out of time to take action on the climate emergency. Rebels held large red banners with yellow font reading " Governor Healey Do Your Job on Climate" and "Commonwealth Failing to Address Climate Crisis" and chanted "Governor Healey, you make the rules, time to ban new fossil fuels," "Massachusetts, don't delay, ban new fossil fuels today."

Extinction Rebellion Boston demands that the Healey administration ban New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure by immediately taking the following steps:

  • Issue a public announcement that the Governor is committed to a No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure policy for the Commonwealth, including opposing projects under construction or currently in the permitting process
  • Issue a public commitment that the Governor will only appoint anti-new fossil fuel infrastructure policymakers to the Energy Facilities Siting Board and Department of Public Utilities, the key independent boards that permit new energy infrastructure
  • Work with Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka to introduce legislation that would permanently ban new fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts

Banning new fossil fuel infrastructure includes:

  • NO new fossil fuel power plants
  • NO new residential or commercial gas connections
  • NO new airports or airfield expansions​​​​​​​
  • NO new or expanded natural gas distribution pipelines, transmission pipelines, or compressor stations
  • NO new liquified natural gas production facilities, storage facilities, or terminals
  • NO new gas stations or other gasoline and diesel infrastructure

Stopping new fossil fuel infrastructure under development includes:

  • MMWEC’s Peaker Plant in Peabody
  • NEC’s Liquified Natural Gas Facility in Charlton
  • LNG expansion to Douglas
  • L.G. Hanscom Airfield's North Airfield Development in Bedford
  • Cape Cod Gateway Airport Runway Expansion in Hyannis
  • "Modernization" projects in Lowell and Worcester
  • "Reliability" projects in Western Mass. and Sharon-to-Brockton
  • The Hopkinton-Ashland Transfer Line
  • Meter stations in Longmeadow and Charlton

In September, 20+ XR rebels were arrested after slow marching around South Station in the financial district of Boston, escalating their No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure campaign against the Healey administration. After months of continual pressure, Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer scheduled a meeting with members of XR and members of the Healey administration to discuss their No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure demand. In this meeting, Hoffer admitted that Massachusetts will be unable to make its legally binding target to reduce emissions by 50% with respect to 1990 levels by 2030, per the 2021 Act Creating A Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, and that the administration does not have plans to phase out new gas hookups. Despite assuring activists present at the meeting that the Healey administration would shortly release a statement publicly opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts, neither Hoffer nor Healey have put out a statement publicly opposing new fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts.

For the past 21 weeks, Extinction Rebellion and allies have held an ongoing stand-out in front of the General Hooker entrance to the State House, calling on the Commonwealth to ban new fossil fuel infrastructure. No matter the weather, from 9 am to 5 pm on business days, two or more rebels are stationed with banners, engaging State House employees and passersby in conversation about the climate crisis. They have committed to standing out until the Governor adopts No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.

Climate activists from Extinction Rebellion Boston previously staged a sit-in at the Governor's office this past February, calling on Governor Healey and Climate Chief Hoffer to publicly commit to no new fossil fuel infrastructure. During this sit-in, Hoffer briefly met with the activists and heard their arguments for why Massachusetts should be a leader in the transition to a fossil free future. In May and June, rebels disrupted sessions in the House chamber and Senate chamber. In the June demonstration, climate activists pulled down their pants and mooned the Senate chamber, with the words "Stop Passing Gas" written across their backsides. Ten XR and Scientist Rebellion rebels were arrested after blocking access to a private jet company at Hanscom Airfield in December. Last September, 15 XR rebels were arrested while disrupting traffic across the city in an effort to raise attention to the need for No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.

The Massachusetts State Government must make decisions based on the well-established scientific consensus of the climate emergency and stop fueling the climate fire with new fossil fuel infrastructure. New York State is already acting to ban certain fossil fuel infrastructure, including recently-approved legislation to ban natural gas connections in new buildings.The law bans gas-powered stoves, furnaces, and propane heating, and effectively encourages the use of climate-friendly appliances such as heat pumps and induction stoves in most new residential buildings across the state. It requires all-electric heating and cooking in new buildings shorter than seven stories by 2026, and for taller buildings by 2029. In comparison, lawmakers in Massachusetts approved a paltry pilot program last year that would allow 10 cities and towns to ban fossil fuel-powered appliances in new construction and major renovations, if they meet certain requirements, and the Executive Office has still not officially given the green light for municipalities to start the pilot.

The global average temperature for July 2023 is confirmed to be the highest on record for any month. August 2023 is the hottest August ever recorded.3 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that as of July 12, 2023, the United States had already suffered 23 billion-dollar disasters this year, 10 of which were severe thunderstorms and tornadoes caused by climate change.4 By refusing to take action to mitigate effects of the climate crisis, our government is dooming themselves to financial disaster. More disturbing, the government is sentencing residents to suffer more crises like this summer's floods in Vermont and the heat waves across Massachusetts that have sent hundreds of people to the hospital for heat-related conditions.5



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