Deval Patrick promised to be a governor who cared about the environment and would practice what he preached. So far, he has been true to his word and that is good for the people of Massachusetts.
Not only has he been a vocal supporter of the Cape Wind project to put 130 windmills in Nantucket Sound, he also has demanded that developers who build major projects use “green” technology to cut down on environmental damage.
The Patrick administration ordered last week that private developers whose projects are large enough to be subject to state environmental review estimate the greenhouse gases the projects would produce and take steps to reduce them.
This is no onerous burden and is already being done by many developers. It includes using energy-efficient lighting, commuter shuttles, alternative fuels and other ways of protecting the environment. The more potential damage a project may do, the more it must be offset.
But Patrick is not just demanding sacrifices by private developers. He also had ordered state agencies to take similar measures. They include cutting energy consumption by 20 percent in five years, and 35 percent by 2020. Additionally, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 25 percent over five years and 80 percent by 2050 by state agencies.
Patrick also said he will have Massachusetts join a consortium of other states, including all of New England (except Rhode Island), New York, New Jersey and others that seek to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 10 percent within 12 years.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney never signed on to this initiative because he said it could drive up electricity bills for consumers.
Patrick admitted energy costs could increase, but he said the percentage would be small. There is always an opportunity to resign from the pact if it doesn't serve the people of Massachusetts or have a real effect on reducing greenhouse gases.
None of these plans are serious hardships and they spread the burden fairly among private companies, the public and state government. It is encouraging to have a governor who understands that we don't live in a vacuum and that everything we do — good and bad — has an effect on the environment.
(This appeared in the Brockton Enterprise, April 23, 2007)