The Environmental League of Massachusetts has endorsed dozens of candidates running for office in Massachusetts, with one stark absence: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez.
The advocacy organization is staying neutral on the gubernatorial election, despite its recent criticism of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Gonzalez, on the other hand, has been outspoken about his more progressive environmental views.
In a Nov. 1 debate between the two candidates, Gonzalez called climate change “the most serious threat to our world,” citing a recent United Nations report that concluded the global warming crisis is more dire than previously thought.
Gonzalez said in the debate that as governor, he supports carbon pricing and would do everything in his power to “stop the expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure.”
In their “Green Budget” for the 2019 fiscal year, ELM stated that not enough had been done during Baker’s first term. Specifically, ELM focused on Baker’s failure to follow through a on a campaign promise to spend 1 percent of the state’s budget on the environment.
Gonzalez’ positions are more closely aligned with that of ELM than Baker’s, which led some environmental advocates to question the decision to not endorse Gonzalez.
Deb Pasternak, interim chapter director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, wrote in an email that by not endorsing either candidate, ELM is sending the wrong message to voters.
“If you care about climate action, you vote Gonzalez,” Pasternak wrote. “We feel that our endorsement of Jay Gonzalez is very much reflective of the Massachusetts grassroots voter’s position on this race.”
ELM did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Terry MacCormack, Baker’s campaign communications director, wrote in an email that the governor and lieutenant governor are proud that Massachusetts is a national and global leader in the fight against climate change.
“[They] are proud of their record advancing clean energy through the largest offshore wind procurement in US history,” McCormack wrote, “reducing carbon emissions while keeping Massachusetts’ commitment to meeting targets in the wake of the President’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement.”
The governor has taken legislative action to make Massachusetts one of the states with the largest procurement of offshore wind and the holder of the “Most Energy Efficient State” title for eight consecutive years.
However, Wellesley resident Jocelyn Ramirez said the ELM should release a statement explaining why they chose to remain neutral on the race.
“Maybe the [Environmental League of Massachusetts] doesn’t think that what the Democratic party is doing is enough,” the 20-year-old said. “If that’s their stance, they should probably release a statement and say that we don’t think that either side is kind of advocating for the environment right now, so we’re going to go ahead and remain neutral and advocate for ourselves.”
Lauren Swank, 22, said she does not support the ELM’s decision to stay neutral and thinks no statement is a still a statement.
“I think, when any organization or any institution remains neutral, they automatically stand with the oppressor,” the Walpole resident said. “I think it’s irresponsible for the [Environmental League of Massachusetts] to do so.”
Camila Beiner and Clarissa Garza contributed to the reporting of this story.