They serve us well

 

Greenfield Recorder 05/05/2015, Page A06

Area lawmakers deserve our thanks


read Sherrill Hogan’s letter to the editor in The Recorder (April 21), and wanted to add to her remarks. We are graced with some of the best public officials I have ever had, and I want to thank them for their significant efforts, being willing to go out on a limb for the values they espouse!

Closest to home, Greenfield to Dalton, we are represented in the Legislature by a very dedicated and dynamic young representative, Paul Mark. He has taken on at least four great tasks: The first, by serving on the decommissioning board for Vermont Yankee, he has set himself the task of opening a dialogue on the situation with nearly a half century of spent fuel rods left in a pool, balanced precariously, while Entergy resists the obligation of alerting the public in case of a nuclear accident. With bated breath we wait for a “cool-down period” to move the spent rods into a safer dry cask storage facility.

Then, if that were not a big enough job, he is a major supporter of education, working for community college expansion. He is also helping to navigate opposition to the proposed natural gas pipeline. Finally, Mark has introduced very significant new legislation to build a transition to a “green economy,” introducing the legislation that would lift the cap on net-metering, enable more movement to solar energy — a direction that seems to be opposed by the public utilities, while also working toward community-based solar to help those without solar sites to take advantage of the current tax credits and rebates to lower greenhouse gases and electric costs.

Paul Mark has also introduced legislation to establish a Massachusetts Green Bank, as a way to concentrate capital and direct it toward conservation, energy efficiency and other green technologies that will put millions of invested dollars to work lowering atmospheric greenhouse gases emitted by commercial buildings (and lowering energy bills!).

But Rep. Mark is not alone. We also have one of the most astute political leaders we have ever had in Massachusetts in Sen. Stan Rosenberg, who is now president of the state Senate. Typical of Sen. Rosenberg, he started his service as president this spring with a statewide “listening campaign.”

While his task is to juggle the Legislature’s many concerns, he is the lead on the Senate Report on Global Warming, published in February. This report details some of the effects of global warming and the resulting rising sea levels, ones eventually putting 25 percent of Boston and 55 surrounding communities under water. The report also discusses the effects on many other critical parts of life in the commonwealth: agriculture, fisheries, economics. Rosenberg is clearly not one of those people in “denial.” Because he is not afraid to look reality in the face, he is courageously helping us to plan for the future.

Similarly, we have an excellent congressional delegation. One of the best legislators in the U.S. House is Rep. Jim McGovern. Another clear-headed leader, who is honest and deeply compassionate, McGovern sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, where he has a significant impact on food security. He is very accessible, and his values fit the Franklin County region to a “T.”

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention our two U.S. senators. We may all be fully aware that Sen Elizabeth Warren is a warrior for the Middle Class, not afraid to defend the ordinary citizen against vast corporate interests and big banks. But Sen. Ed Markey is also a hero for his long service and very hard work on climate-change issues. He is a man for our times, another person who will take on big oil/coal interests and do so with wisdom and good strategic planning (please note his recent activist opposition to the building of the Kinder Morgan pipeline).

In addition, other Franklin County communities have lawmakers with similar clear values, such as state Rep. Steve Kulik heading Ways and Means, and state Sen. Benjamin Downing, who has called for divestment from fossil fuel companies by the state retirement fund, and who heads the state’s critical Joint Energy Committee.

We are graced by these heroic public servants, in part, because we, their constituents, are working hard to keep them in office. That means not just voting, but funding re-election campaigns, and offering to volunteer. Active citizenship is OUR responsibility. Our thanks to them all!

Pamela Kelly is an active member of Greening Greenfield and the Greenfield community.