Globe throws Cape Wind under bus

The newspaper that once championed Cape Wind threw the project under the bus on Tuesday in an editorial that seemed like it was written by the Baker administration.

The Boston Globe likes the broad outlines of the energy legislation approved by the House and Senate on Beacon Hill. Bills passed by the two branches call for the state’s utilities to negotiate long-term contracts for Canadian hydroelectricity and offshore wind. While the minimalist House bill stops there, the Senate bill goes further, including proposals on creating home energy labels, plugging natural gas leaks, and assorted other initiatives.

The Globe editorial suggests the Senate’s approach may lead to disagreements with the House that could jeopardize the bill as a whole. For example, the House bill was written in such a way as to prevent Cape Wind from bidding on the offshore wind contracts; the Senate bill omits the restrictive language. The Senate bill would bar the state’s electric utilities from assessing their customers for natural gas pipeline capacity, while the House bill is silent on that issue.

On Cape Wind, the Globe is dismissive. “More competition for the long-term contracts should lead to a better result for ratepayers, which argues in favor of the Senate bill,” the editorial says. “It seems possible, though, that it doesn’t really matter: The Cape Wind project has suffered serious setbacks and appears to be going nowhere fast. A fight over whether to kill a project that seems to be dying anyway is not worth having.”

The truth is that Cape Wind is much further along in the regulatory process than any other wind farm proposal. It’s true the project has well-financed enemies who don’t want a wind farm in Nantucket Sound, but that didn’t seem to bother the Globe’s editorial page back in 2010 when it urged the Obama administration to greenlight the project. “These arguments are ultimately unpersuasive, especially when weighed against the urgent need to develop clean sources of energy in a world that is growing warmer,” the Globe said back then.

The argument that Cape Wind is going nowhere fast is hard to counter because it’s so vague. The proposed wind farm faces hurdles, but so do the other projects likely to vie for the offshore wind contracts. Former governor Deval Patrick rammed Cape Wind and its high-priced contracts down our throats in 2014, but now the project’s leaders are merely asking for the chance to compete. Why should the House be afraid of a little competition?

As for the Senate provision barring electric utilities from charging their ratepayers to finance a natural gas pipeline, the Globe says that proposal is premature since the Supreme Judicial Court is trying to decide whether the law allows it. The Globe says lawmakers should put the pipeline provision on hold until after the SJC rules.

But why? The Senate voted unanimously for the provision and close to 100 House lawmakers have indicated they would support it as well, although it’s unclear whether they would buck House Speaker Robert DeLeo on the issue. Lawmakers are setting the state’s energy policy now, and whether to build a new natural gas pipeline or not seems like an item that should be on the agenda.

The House and Senate negotiators will have to decide what they can get done in the limited time they have. But why the Senate should concede to the House, and not the other way around, is a mystery. One suspects the Globe editorial writers were listening to their friends in the Baker administration, who want a new pipeline and don’t want Cape Wind.

BRUCE MOHL 

 

BEACON HILL 

A Herald editorial says the Legislature’s budget plan relies on gimmickry that the Baker administration will now have to dispense with.

Lawmakers are split on the per diem travel payments they can receive, with 110 taking them and 90 refusing to do so. Last year, $327,338 in per diems was paid out. (Salem News)

An Eagle-Tribune editorial says lawmakers really haven’t bought into the concept of public records, citing as its prime exhibit the legislation dealing with ride-share companies that would keep records collected from the firms shielded from the public. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says he’s disappointed that a Senate bill regulating ride-sharing companies doesn’t give the city more leeway to impose its own regulations on the services. (Boston Herald)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS 

Joan Vennochi laments the fact that Boston’s civic leadership is dominated by an aging cadre of white men in their 70s and beyond. (Boston Globe)

Brockton city councilors are calling out Mayor Bill Carpenter, saying his claim that the council’s approval of a lower police overtime budget will necessitate public safety cuts is false. (The Enterprise)

One of two barges carrying fireworks for Plymouth‘s annual 4th of July display exploded and caught fire about 15 minutes into the show, bringing the celebration in America’s Hometown to an abrupt end for thousands who had gathered on the waterfront. (Patriot Ledger)

Springfield officials seek bidders to manage the city’s Symphony Hall; casino operator MGM says it’s not interested. (Masslive)

Raymond Mariano reflects on 13 years at the helm of the Worcester Housing Authority. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL/INTERPLANETARY 

Physicians are once again mounting an effort to end restrictions Congress put on the Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention that have effectively prevented the agency from funding any research on the public health dangers of guns. (Boston Globe)

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson makes the case for awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Worcester’s Bob Cousy.

Jim Aloisi says Independence Day is not about building walls. (CommonWealth)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie puts roadwork on hold as gas tax hike fizzles in legislature. (The Record)

The space probe Juno has entered into orbit around Jupiter after a five-year journey to help scientists determine the origin of the solar system. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS 

Donald Trump and members of his campaign, under fire for his tweet of a meme that appears to use the Star of David to label Hillary Clinton corrupt, have some troubling connections to white supremacist groups on the internet. (Fortune) Was the Trump campaign engaging in anti-semitism, or is the uproar political correctness run amok? (Politico)

For some Massachusetts Republicans who are aghast at the candidacy of Trump, including the former chair of the state party, the Johnson-Weld Libertarian Party ticket has a lot of allure. (Boston Globe)

Howie Carr, looking more like a campaign advisor than columnist, reports on his recent time hanging with Trump, saying he is not likely to tap Scott Brown as his running-mate because he wants a current officeholder for the spot. (Boston Herald)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules that the question repealing the state’s adoption of Common Core education standards doesn’t belong on the ballot. (CommonWealth)

A Herald editorial calls the pro-legalization campaign petty for filing a complaint alleging that the Walpole police chief violated campaign laws by speaking at an event sponsored by opponents of  marijuana legalization.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY 

Does Massachusetts have too many nonprofits? (Boston Globe)

A new study indicates those without a college degree have been largely left behind in the recovery. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

The Globe spotlights the enrollment by Massachusetts school districts of tuition-paying foreign students, who bring needed revenue to cash-strapped school systems. CommonWealth reported on this in January.

TRANSPORTATION 

New MBTA General Manager Brian Shortsleeve, in a wide-ranging interview in his first day on the job, praised the Carmen’s Union for offering wage concessions but says he doubts members would bend on privatization efforts. (Keller@Large)

 ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Natural gas falls out of favor on Beacon Hill. (CommonWealth)

The Haverhill City Council is badly split on a proposal to put solar panels on the roof of the high school and replace the high school’s roof at the same time. (Eagle-Tribune)

The chairman of the Brockton Water Commission says state Rep. Thomas Calter of Kingston is using scare tactics and spreading misinformation by claiming the city is draining Silver Lake and that its supplementary source has a growing algae problem. (The Enterprise)

MEDIA

Media outlets are selling events and even interviews at the political conventions. (The Intercept)

PASSINGS

Elie Wiesel, an Auschwitz survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient who became the preeminent voice for victims of the Holocaust, died in New York over the weekend. He was 87. (New York Times)