In hopes of making Massachusetts more resilient to climate change and weather disasters, Gov. Deval Patrick announced Tuesday the allocation of $50 million to programs focused on energy resources.
Within this $50 million, $40 million will go to a program focused on energy efficiency and resiliency throughout the state through the Department of Energy Resources, for cities and towns to harden their energy resources.
“[The goal is] if there’s a storm and it knocks out the power in a community for any length of time that necessary emergency services can continue,” said Mary-Leah Assad, spokesperson for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. “[Also] to make sure that those places operate using renewable energy during storms meaning they operate off the normal electricity grid.”
The other $10 million will focus on coastal infrastructure projects, making them more irrepressible to flooding and improving inland dams to mitigate flooding impact during storms.
“We have a generational responsibility to address the multiple threats of climate change,” Patrick said in a Tuesday release. “Massachusetts needs to be ready, and our plan will make sure that we are.”
All departments of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will be working together to cover all aspects of the state, assessing which vulnerabilities need to be improved upon. An extra $2 million will fund this research.
“The Department of Transportation will look at our roads and bridges, see what kind of vulnerabilities there are there, and the Department of Public Health to work with our agency of environmental affairs to see how climate change is impacting public health whether it’s through conductor born diseases or Triple E virus,” Assad said. “It really is comprehensive and it’s across every department. We’re all working together.”
Patrick has made significant strides with Massachusetts’ renewable energy, as the state ranked first in the nation in energy efficiency. The new projects funded by the $50 million started Tuesday, Assad said.
“This week the DOER is starting to get the ball rolling on getting solicitation ready, going through a public process, to determine exactly how the 40 mil grant program will be made available to communities and then soon after that process is over communities will be able to apply,” Assad said. “All of the money is going out of the door to municipalities this calendar year. The governor is committed to that.”
Some residents said contributing large funds to climate change and weather disasters is a hopeless cause.
Pat Davis, 60, of Brookline, said she does not know why the governor is throwing away this money.
“The people situating on the coast, dealing with flooding and erosion, trying to build up the coasts … keep throwing good money,” Davis said. “The coast — the water — it’s working against them. The bottom line is that they’re going to have to move. They’re fighting Mother Nature and they’re losing.”
Beatrice Bell, 48, of Fenway, said there are far more important places the funds could be allocated to.
“I don’t think this is a valuable investment, they could be doing more with this money,” Bell said. “It’s important, but there are a lot of other issues. He should have split this money with things like the Section 8 program, helping low-income individuals who are homeless get into jobs and homes.”
However, some residents see how this will be significant for the future of the state.
“It’s hard for people to see that it’s valuable now because it won’t show its value until a natural disaster actually happens,” said Kristina McCarthy, 24, of Brookline. “But we’ll be grateful for it one day.”