Advocates Rally for Environmental Bond (MA)

BOSTON, Massachusetts, 3/13/02: Hundreds of environmentalists, elected officials, and community activists converged on the State House today as part of Lobby Day for the Environmental Bond. They were welcomed by Secretary of Environmental Affairs Bob Durand, State Sen. Stephen Brewer, and State Rep. Robert Koczera, who spoke at the press conference that kicked off the event.

The Environmental Bond — House bill 4909, An Act Providing for the Preservation and Improvement of the Environmental Assets of the Commonwealth — will provide $625 million in much-needed funds for state environmental programs, including watershed protection, flood control, farmland conservation, pollution prevention, grants to communities, and stewardship of state forests, parks, beaches, and trails. The bill has been approved by the House Committee on Long-term Debt and Capital Expenditures, and it is awaiting consideration by the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“The Swift Administration is dedicated to making sure its residents have a clean and healthy environment that will protect and sustain our great quality of life in Massachusetts,” said Bob Durand, Secretary of Environmental Affairs. “The Environmental Bond is a critical tool in our efforts to make sure we can protect our open spaces, prevent pollution and invest in our forests, parks and reservations.”

“This bill is crucial to a multitude of efforts to preserve and protect the Commonwealth’s environmental resources,” said Senator Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture. “The sum total of the appropriations in the Environmental Bond should bolster nearly every conservation, environmental education, and environmental infrastructure improvement effort in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“I support the Environmental Bond 100 percent,” said Representative Robert Koczera (D-New Bedford), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture. “It is especially important in these lean times not to forget about our environment and the investments we have already made in clean air, water, and open space. We must continue to fund and improve upon the programs that have gotten us to this point and will continue to protect our environment for future generations.”

Lobby Day is sponsored by the Coalition for the Environmental Bond, which was formed earlier this year to advocate for the Bond’s passage. The coalition includes more than 150 cities, towns, community groups, sportsman’s organizations, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to land conservation, environmental education, scientific research, and historic preservation. The coalition’s steering committee members are the American Farmland Trust, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Essex County Greenbelt Association, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, Sudbury Valley Trustees, The Trustees of Reservations, The Trust for Public Land, and Valley Land Fund. For a full list of Coalition members, please see attached document.

“Unless the Legislature provides the funding mechanism with which state agencies can protect the Commonwealth’s quickly diminishing open spaces and natural resources, our ability to sustain the quality of life at the local level will be threatened,” said Chairman of the Ipswich Board of Selectmen James Engle, who spoke on behalf of the many municipalities that support the Bond. “The citizens of Ipswich, and many other communities across Massachusetts, have made tremendous investments in protecting the quality of life at the local level by protecting land for open space, water supply protection and recreation. It is essential that the Commonwealth show the same leadership by full funding and passage of the Environmental Bond.”

“Massachusetts is blessed with a rich variety of natural landscapes, from the barrier beaches and salt marshes of the Atlantic Coast, to the wetlands and meadows of the interior, all the way to the forests of the Berkshire highlands,” said Christopher Leahy of Mass Audubon, which spoke on behalf of the Coalition for the Environmental Bond. “This extraordinary natural heritage is under threat from uncontrolled development. The Environmental Bond would provide the necessary resources to sustain the Commonwealth’s strong tradition of conservation and protect forever the best remaining examples of natural communities that define the character of Massachusetts.”

For additional statements in support of the Environmental Bond, please see attached document.