Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lots More Electric Vehicles Coming Soon To Massachusetts

MARCH 28, 2014



Though there are no leaves on the trees yet, my home state of Massachusetts became a greener place to live this week. Governor Deval Patrick announced Thursday a rebate program that will provide state residents who purchase or lease an electric vehicle (EV) a rebate of up to $2,500 - an incentive that we in the Massachusetts Electric Vehicles Taskforce enthusiastically recommended.

In the past, I've blogged about Massachusetts lagging behind other states, like Oregon and Georgia, in EV incentives and sales. The new rebate program, expected to go into effect early this summer, will allow for catch-up and help clear the air from Cape Cod to the Berkshires.

On Thursday, the governor also celebrated the launch of six new fully electric public transit buses in Worcester, MA. "This is wicked cool," said Governor Patrick (that means "really, really great" for you non-New Englanders). State transportation officials said each of the new buses is expected to eliminate 130 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year compared to diesel buses and will cut operating costs by nearly $3 million over 12 years. The buses are manufactured by Proterra, headquartered in Greenville, SC. The growing company has e-bus contracts with transit agencies in a number of other cities, including Nashville, San Antonio, and Tallahassee.

The governor was on a roll because he also announced nearly $600,000 in Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) grants for 16 municipalities, two universities, and one state agency to install EV charging stations and acquire about 200 EVs for their fleets. This is the second round of grant awards through MassEVIP since its launch last year.

As a parent whose children take the school bus every day, I'm also excited to learn that, working in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources will provide $1.8 million in grants for eight electric school buses. These e-buses will have vehicle-to-grid capability to serve as back-up energy resources during natural disasters. It would be exciting if my daughters could ride on one of these clean driving technological marvels in our home city of Cambridge.

Massachusetts, which has signed an eight-state agreement to significantly ramp up EV programs and sales, has a long way to go to reach its commitment of getting 300,000+ plug-in vehicles on the road in Massachusetts alone by 2025. But this week, there was a jolt of real progress.

-- Gina Coplon-Newfield, Director of the Sierra Club Future Fleet & Electric Vehicles InitiativePhotos by XhaoZhi Lim of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.

Kudos to John Lewis

Kudos to John Lewis

Monday, February 24, 2014

Green Up Your Next Event!

Here are some tips we came up with for you to use at your next event!

1.    Recycle Containers Make sure that the plastic containers you buy can be recycled. Or better yet, use compostable containers.

Tip: Avoid recycling symbols 3, 6, and 7. 

Look for symbols 2, 4, and 5, as these plastics are considered to be safest.

2.      Electronic Presentations Paper handouts are so 20th century. Save some trees and use your computer to present your idea! 

3.      Electronic Invites Your environmental activist friends will thank you. Besides, most of these invites will be thrown away.

4.      NO Bottled Water Ban the bottle at your event! Use reusable glasses.

5.      No Food with High Environmental Impact Avoid serving endangered species such as the Bluefin Tuna and the Atlantic Halibut. Fish are friends, not food! Also, avoid serving meats that contribute to greenhouse gases. 

6.      Plan an event that’s accessible by public transportation Reduce our carbon footprint by allowing your guests to use public transportation as opposed to cars.

7.      Use real plates and silverware This will lessen your waste and plastic accumulation.

8.      Go free trade, local, and organic with your food Help your local economy while saying no to climate change

9.      No Incandescent Bulbs Not only are these bulbs bad for the Earth, but they are also bad for your health. These bulbs are known to release mercury into the environment.

10.  Use natural light when possible Pick a space with large windows to let the natural light flow into the room. Not only may you eliminate the usage of light bulbs, but you might also get a great view of nature! 


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Lifetime Environmental Advocate Takes Role as Chair of the Mass Sierra Club

Boston, MA, February 3, 2014 – At its recent meeting, the executive committee of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club elected Roxanne Eigenbrod Zak as its chairman.  Zak is a staunch advocate for environmental awareness and conservation and has worked on issues related to climate change for over 20 years. 

“I’m pleased that Roxanne has accepted this role,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said upon hearing the news.  “I believe she will help us achieve our goals both in Massachusetts and nationwide.”  Zak replaces Dan Proctor, a Concord resident who served for six years.

Born and raised in New England, Zak is a long-time member of the Sierra Club and has been active with the Massachusetts Chapter since 2007.  Working for the Chapter, she has contributed to policy making and legislative efforts dealing with wind and solar energy, plastic bags, expanding the bottle bill and many other issues.  Zak plans on spending much of her time as chair in furthering the Club’s work fighting climate change and increasing our Commonwealth’s supply of renewable energy. 

“I am alarmed that we have gotten so deep into the climate crisis,” she said, “ I think we can do a better job of simultaneously supporting the growth of the economy in the Commonwealth and being responsible guardians of our climate and our environment.”

In addition to her work at the Sierra Club, Zak has contributed to numerous environmental efforts in her hometown of Concord including expanding the town’s recycling program and organizing with the Sierra Club’s local Thoreau Group.  She has an undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science with business experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

Founded in 1892 by John Muir, the Sierra Club boasts 64 chapters with more than 1.2 million members and supporters nationwide. Headquartered in San Francisco, it is the oldest and among the most prominent and influential environmental organizations in the nation.   More information on the national Sierra Club can be found at

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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Mass. Chapter Winter Event Kicks Off The New Year

The Massachusetts Chapter’s Winter Event took place on January 30th at the Parker House hotel in Boston.   Boston University’s Professor of Biology, Richard B. Primack, gave an exceptional presentation of his research entitled “Climate Change Comes to Thoreau's Concord” outlining the impact of climate change on the leafing out times of plants, spring arrival of birds and the flight times of insects in Massachusetts and the ecological impact of a warming climate.  Although his research is conducted throughout of the world, his main geographical focus is Concord, Massachusetts, because of the availability of extensive phenological records kept by naturalist Henry David Thoreau. More information about Prof. Primack’s work can be found at

Following Prof. Primack’s lecture, the Chapter presented Certificates of Appreciation to the Professor for his leadership contributions in climate change research; to James (Jay) McCaffrey for 20 years of service to the Chapter as Chapter Director; and to outgoing Chapter Chair Dan Proctor for six years of dedicated service to the Chapter.

The packed event concluded with refreshments and abuzz of excitement as new and long time members mingled kicking off a new year of environmental advocacy by the Massachusetts Chapter. There is a lot of work to be done and new Chapter Chair Roxanne Eigenbrod Zak and Vice Chair Edward Woll, Jr. will be guiding us in what promises to be a very busy and productive year for the Sierra Club.