Baker again denounces Ismay comments
Brushes aside suggestion aide was just impolitic
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Wednesday again denounced comments made last month by his undersecretary for climate change and brushed aside a suggestion that his aide may have been stating the obvious in an impolitic way.
Ismay made his comments on a taped Zoom call January 25 held by the Vermont Climate Council – a call that was brought to light last week by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative group opposed to climate initiative that raise costs to consumers. Ismay said Massachusetts doesn’t have many big sources of emissions left to target, so the state will have to focus on changing the way ordinary people drive and heat their homes.
“There is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts, to point the finger at, turn the screws on, and break their will so they stop emitting,” he said. “That’s you. We have to break your will. I can’t even say that publicly.”
Baker briefly denounced Ismay’s comments at a State House press conference last week and did so again on Wednesday at a press conference at one of the state’s mass COVID-19 vaccination sites in Danvers.
Baker brushed aside a question about whether Ismay may have just been stating the obvious – that dealing with climate change will come with costs, costs that will be borne by ordinary citizens – in an impolitic way. Baker instead focused on what he sees as the role of government – finding solutions to state problems by balancing competing interests and doing so in a way that yields the greatest benefit at the least cost.
“No one speaks for me if they say this one is going to be the loser and this one is going to be the winner,” Baker said. “In six years, this administration year after year has worked extremely hard to find common ground and balance when we make decisions among competing interests. I get the fact that there’s always going to be competing interests when we get into any of these issues. But that’s the way we should make policy.”
Ismay holds the same view. In his comments in Vermont, he raised the issue of trying to balance the need to produce more electricity from offshore wind against the concerns of the fishing industry about turbines disrupting their fishing grounds and the concerns of people worried about transmission lines carrying power where it is needed.“We need offshore wind, and yes there is fishing out in the ocean, too, but we can’t have no offshore wind, no transmission, no solar, and have clean energy,” Ismay said on the Vermont call. “Something has to give. There has to be some mechanism we trust to find a place to site a transmission line.”
Ismay has also helped lead the effort by the Baker administration to push back against a goal set by the Legislature to reduce emissions 50 percent below a benchmark level by 2030. The administration instead backed a 45 percent target, which officials said would save residents of the state $6 billion. That issue is currently in flux on Beacon Hill in the back and forth between lawmakers and the administration on climate change legislation.