Councilors Wu and O’Malley discuss environmental sustainability

Boston City Council President Michelle Wu held her media meet-up with her son Cass on Sept. 29 at Boston City Hall. (Image courtesy of Ruobing Su.)

Boston City Council President Michelle Wu and District 6 Councilor Matt O’Malley discussed environmental and sustainability policies, along with ongoing projects throughout the city on Sept. 29 at Boston City Hall. O’Malley is chairman of the council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee.

O’Malley discussed his green Community Choice Energy plan in Boston for its potential to increase demand for renewable energy as well as strengthening consumer protection, transparency in energy consumption, and stability in the energy market.

Instead of using power from an investor-owned utility, the city would have authority to decide where energy comes from and aggregate the electricity load of residents and businesses by contracting with providers such as Eversource. With the decision from the government, it would decrease electricity bills but buy more renewable electricity, which is important for green efforts.

“We have a president, a cabinet, especially those in the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] who are hostile to efforts to address issues of climate change, that are building the shallowest plans on this extremely accelerated climate situation. Now it’s the time for cities and towns, also the state, to lead on some issues related to the environment under the age of Trump,” O’Malley said.

Wu said it is not only good for the environment, but also will bring more local jobs in wind and solar industry. “It will still take a while, from hearings to the official implementation – the soonest will be nine months,” Wu said.

O’Malley and Wu discussed the proposed ordinance to reduce plastic bags, which is still pending, as other cities nationally and internationally have already adopted such measures. It proposes stores must provide shopping bags more than 3 millimeters thick and charge five cents for each plastic bag, which goes to the store owner. Boston will also encourage retail owners to offer a five-cent refund if customers use reusable bags.

Regarding recent extreme weather events in the United States, Boston has shown support for relief efforts. Boston sent aid to Puerto Rico for the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as it is one of the cities with the largest Caribbean population. At the same time, O’Malley will file a proposal for cold weather in October or November to prepare Bostonians for a safe winter.

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