Rep. Minicucci Ties Climate Change Legislation to 2018 Gas Explosions, Fires and Death

Rep. Christina A. Minicucci. (WHAV News file photograph.)

There was a special meaning for Rep. Christina A. Minicucci when the House re-enacted climate legislation yesterday.

The North Andover Democrat highlighted gas pipeline safety measures included in the bill while recalling Sept. 13, 2018—the day over-pressurized natural gas pipelines managed by Columbia Gas exploded and caused major damage to homes in the area and set off a number of fires. An 18-year-old man was killed and about two dozen were injured.

“I tell this story today because our community is still reeling. While most families were able to get back into their homes by Thanksgiving, some were in hotels even longer. Others were out for more than a year and, to this day, I’m still helping members of my community piece their lives back together,” Minicucci said during a session speech.

“We were left traumatized and with the desire to find a safe alternative to gas. But what’s the alternative? And how do we pay for it? And while we wait, are we even safe? This bill provides an answer,” Minicucci added.

The main thrust of the legislation requires the state to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 while also setting standards for appliance energy efficiency, offering incentives for using solar power, and increasing the state’s offshore wind procurement by 2,400 megawatts.

The House and Senate first sent the bill to Gov. Charlie Baker early in the session, but the governor returned it with amendments. Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy House Chair Jeffrey Roy said the House rejected amendments that “departed” from the bill's goals. “There is no doubt that climate science and policy is complicated, but it demands immediate action to avoid what is essentially the most significant existential challenge of our time,” he said during a floor speech.

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