For the Environmental Community, the Choice is Tolman

George Bachrach weighs in. - promoted by david

The environmental community in Massachusetts has a big problem: Everyone says they agree with us. When we ask candidates for office if they will fight to protect the environment, they all say yes. Should we recycle more? Sure. Keep pollution out of our water and air? Of course

And yet, even as we elect politicians who claim to support the environment year after year, the priorities of the environmental community get passed over for shinier objects and issues that seem more pressing. This year, the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund is aiming to pump up a more muscular and politically effective environmental community. On the statewide level, we are particularly interested in the races for Governor and Attorney General. Gov. Patrick has been a champion for the environment and we are going to do everything we can to make sure that his successor will continue his legacy. The road to the Corner Office will go through the environmental community.

For the environmental community, the choice for Attorney General is clear. Warren Tolman has a long record of leading the fight to protect the environment. When Warren pledges to crack down on companies that pollute our rivers and oceans through civil and criminal enforcement, ensure that Massachusetts’ environmental laws are enforced fairly across industries and support conditions where green industries and jobs can flourish, I know he is not just talking the talk because he has a long, long record of walking the walk.

The Attorney General serves as the Commonwealth’s chief regulator of utilities and advocate for ratepayers and is responsible for reviewing the performance and costs utilities pass on to consumers.  Warren understands the importance of this role and he understands that investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is critical and cost effective. He understands consumers in the Commonwealth deserve a 21st century electric grid because today’s aging transmission lines waste energy and dollars, waste which is paid for by all of us as consumers. And Warren understands the Attorney General’s critical role enforcing the Green Communities Act requiring utilities to increase their energy efficiency and their portfolio of renewable energy.

Warren also understands the importance of investment in renewable energy. While natural gas derived from fracking may sometimes be cheaper than power from renewable sources like wind and the sun, the long term benefits of reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions include lowering the costs of treating ailments like childhood asthma and preventing the devastation of the next SuperStorm Sandy. The renewable energy industry is also among the fastest growing segments of our economy, having created 80,000 new jobs and 5500 new businesses in the last few years.

If we understand the cost-effective nature of these investments and keep pressing the utilities to increase their clean energy portfolio, we will make Massachusetts the clean energy industry leader attracting even more start-ups and jobs. On the other hand, the ‘lowest cost’ energy approach threatens that budding industry and props up Big Oil. Warren gets it.

But it is not just that Warren understands the important role the Attorney General can play in our energy future – anyone can make promises. His longstanding record of commitment to energy and the environment throughout his public life show me that he not only believes in our mission, he has been a leader for our cause:

  • Protecting our Rivers: A sponsor of the Clean River Bill, Warren has worked to protect rivers and ponds from the threat of extinction caused by overgrowth of weeds and other plants. Warren won funding to create a flag warning system on the Charles River to provide river users with warnings when pollution levels become unsafe, a model that was replicated on rivers throughout the state. Warren also supported legislation to limit the use of phosphates that pollute our water. As a private citizen, Warren started the Charles River cleanup program, a public-service event that attracts thousands on Earth Day every year.
  • Promoting Recycling: Warren was chief sponsor of the updated Bottle Bill when he was in the legislature.
  • Encouraging Alternative Transportation: Warren has worked to encourage alternative means of transportation. He was the chief Senate sponsor of a measure to require new highway projects to include bike access. Warren also sponsored legislation to provide incentives for the use of cleaner, alternatively fueled vehicles.
  • Protecting Trees: Warren was the chief sponsor and won passage of the law that requires cities and towns to hire qualified arborists.
  • Fighting for Safe Drinking Water: A founding member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) caucus, Warren led the fight for safe drinking water. As Chair of the MWRA subcommittee of the House Post Audit and Oversight Committee, he worked with the MWRA Advisory Board to prevent additional and unnecessary building, which resulted in close to $1 billion in savings.
  • Cleaning up Boston Harbor: Warren traveled to Washington to Lobby for funding for the Boston Harbor cleanup, and fought for legislation that established the sate’s safe drinking water projects revolving fund.

The ELM Action Fund was impressed by Maura Healey’s strong commitment to the environment, but endorsed Tolman based on his longterm and forceful leadership on a range of environmental protection issues. In the next weeks and months, we will continue to evaluate the candidates for governor and the legislature to find more environmental champions. Until then, I hope you will join us in supporting Warren Tolman.

 



Discuss

27 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. AG tremendously important to the environment

    More important, in some ways, than who is Gov.

  2. Great endorsement

    And I will echo trickle-up. We underestimate the victories the environmental movement has gained through the courts. It is incredibly important we have an activist AG watching out for us. Tolman has promised to take on the big polluters, the gun manufacturers, the big corporations trying to buy our elections and kill our unions, and defend civil liberties. It has to be said that these areas-along with consumer protection-are portfolios that have not always been advanced by the current incumbent and her staff.

    I like Healy and wish her well, but she is a blank slate. Tolman is not-he has a solid record fighting on all of these fronts without backing down. He will continue to fight and win as our next AG.

  3. And lately?

    I appreciate that Bachrach and Tolman are friends and both live Watertown, but It’s been 12 years since Warren Tolman was in the legislature. During those 12 years he has been with the corporate law firm Holland & Knight doing Business/Corporate, Real Estate, and General Litigation.
    Tolman’s also been a pundit on that pro-environmental station Fox News for the last 10 years. http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/18478994/talking-with-tolman-and-gray and http://www.myfoxboston.com/story/23902961/2013/11/07/former-state-sen-warren-tolman-running-for-mass-ag
    And, according to Joe Battenfeld of the Boston Herald, “in addition to his law work, Tolman said he’s also worked for a hedge fund business.” I appreciate that the Herald is not the go-to source for reality, but I don’t have a reason to doubt this.
    Last, he has run for has run for Governor, Lt. Governor, State Rep, State Senator, and now AG, and toyed with running for US Senator against Scott Brown.

    So I ask, for the last 12 years exactly how has he been fighting for the environment? And when was the last time the last time Warren Tolman argued a case in court on behalf of the people of Massachusetts or anyone else?

    Maura Healy hasn’t been a household name and hasn’t run for other offices, but she has been fighting for the people of Massachusetts in the Attorney General’s office and has an impressive record there.
    Most impressive to me was her leadership (and Massachusetts’ leadership) in the nation’s first lawsuit against discrimination against same-sex married couples. Aside from leading that team, Maura oversaw many other aspects of the AG’s office including consumer protection, environmental protection, health care, insurance and financial services, antitrust, Medicaid fraud, energy and telecommunications, not-for-profits and charities, fair labor, and business, technology and economic development.

    Anytime I have to choose between someone who been making a lot of money and connections in a corporate law firm while staying in the public eye as a Fox commentator and running for multiple offices … and someone who has been working for the people of Massachusetts, I’ll choose the later everyday.

    • Pretty baseless attack

      I said I liked Healy and appreciate her work on marriage equality where even the AG (whom I have critiqued on other grounds) did a great job. I simply stated I don’t see this office being visible protecting consumers, the environment, or workers rights. If you could point to cases where she has fought for these things that’s one thing, fighting for marriage equality, while laudable, is wholly unrelated to the environment.

      And bashing Sen. Tolman for ‘losing’ his LG race is unfair since he ran with Harshbarger who lost. Bashing him for appearing on Fox is also unfair since the local affiliate isn’t Fox News and his views stated on those programs are entirely his own and entirely progressive. He authored our clean election law and ran following it’s guidelines. He has passed legislation protecting our environment, advancing gun safety, and cleaning up our politics. He and his brother have actually been union members and walked picket lines I do not doubt their commitment to organized labor.

      Healy may very well share these commitments, but her record achieving victories advancing them is far more limited. I’ll proudly vote
      for her if she wins the nomination, she will make a good AG, but Tolman will make a great one and that’s the difference.

      • I consider baseless attacks ...

        as those based on fiction, fantasy or lies. That is, if there is an attack at all.
        I got it that you disagree with my perspective, but nothing I said was not true. And, I made a point, not an attack.

        • But you went negative.

          I’ll take your positive endorsement of Healey over spitting on another’s endorsement diary hands down. I second jconway’s comments about a local station not being synonomous with Fox News and not everyone working in the corporate or financial sector is a bad guy. Come back when you have something specific either commentary he made on the Fox station you take issue with or a bad act he is directly responsible for in his former employment.

          • Spitting?

            I’ve avoided back and forths on this blog because i think they rarely shed light and often devolve into accusation. But now that I’ve been accused of “spitting,” an accusation I haven’t seen even in response to downright nastiness, I’m compelled to say, that’s ridciculous.
            OK, so no casting aspersions on corporate lawyers. Is it OK to ask about his clients? Lobbying? Hedge fund work? Is it OK to ask about anything during these last 12 years? Curious voters can and should ask questions, if you are asking people to vote for an Attorney general, especially since no media in Boston will. Especially since it is the very nature of the office itself to ask questions and get answers.
            And it seems to me that questions like these have been seen once or twice on BMG about candidates of a different hue.

            • I just think it's bad form...

              …to use an endorsement diary someone wrote to trash talk the subject of said endorsement. If you think there is a specific inaccuracy in the original diary you can question that. Otherwise if you have general concerns write your own diary. You also seem to assume the worst which I don’t like either.

              • OK

                You got the last word. No touching an endorsement post. No posting a different perspective. OK, if that’s the way you want it.
                But I have this correction to your comment: I’m not assuming anything. I’m asking. Asking. The thing we do before we decide. No?
                It’s only when answers aren’t forthcoming or questions themselves get criticized that I’ll begin to assume.

    • Ahem

      (cough, cough)

      RATINGS ABUSE!

      • Why are you always so quick to call ratings abuse?

        Can’t someone downrate something they disagree with without having to answer to the ratings police?

        • NO!

          You’re supposed to disagree in your reply.

          But you tell me. Was I right to downrate your comment just because I disagreed with it?

          “Ratings police” … I give up.

          • I don't think it makes sense to downrate a question...

            …unless it is an obviously trollish or impertinent one. I have always seen the uprate/downrate as a quick way to say agree/disagree without the necessity for further comment.

            • That's abuse, IMO

              That’s not what ratings have ever been for, unless it was a “tip jar” type of situation. Sometimes I uprate comments I disagree with, as an acknowledgement of a thoughtful answer.

              But it looks like I’m outvoted on this, so I’m going to drop it.

              • I'd do it differently

                from both of you. Like I said, I don’t downrate just for disagreement. If I don’t have time to explain my disagreement, I don’t do anything at all. Maybe uprate someone else’s response in opposition to the comment.

                But I also don’t uprate comments I disagree with, no matter how thoughtful, because (not that it matters) it suggests to me endorsement of the substance. Again, I’ll either do nothing or post my own comment saying that, although it’s thoughtful, I still don’t agree. If two people are debating and I think they both make valid points, I might uprate both even if I don’t agree with all of it, but that’s the only real exception.

                • FWIW...

                  …I liked our 0, 3-6 system better. If I completely agreed I gave it a 6, didn’t agree, but wanted to acknowledge its substantive contribution a 5, disagreed but couldn’t quite put my disagreement into words a 4, trolling a 3, and completely offensive like one would hiderate on Daily Kos a 0. JimC seems to be more of the DK mentality when it comes to ratings. I for one am very thankful that BMG is not DK.

                  • Way too complicated for me

                    I’d have a hard time being consistent with it, and it would be too much work evaluating each comment like that. And everyone would have a different standard, as they do under the current plus/minus system, so I’m not sure what it tells you. For example, I don’t know if I’d give a 5 to the comments you described above. I’d probably give a zero to trolling.

                    BMG doesn’t have the same issues as DK, but I tend to agree with JimC about not downrating just because I disagree. Downrating to me suggests disapproval beyond mere disagreement with the substance. I think most people here approach it that way since, times I’ve been downrated, I mostly deserved it.

      • My two cents on ratings abuse

        I don’t think it matters all that much, but here’s my take. Disagreement is normal and unavoidable on a political site. I rarely downrate and never just because I don’t agree with someone’s substantive point of view. I reserve it for cases where the tone or the content are otherwise objectionable, as in personal attacks, unnecessarily uncivil, or deliberately disingenuous.

        In my view, Demeter11′s commment above was getting close to the line because of the insinuation (baseless in my view) that Tolman’s a closet Fox News sympathizer and aspersions on his recent work history. It’s partially a question of content, partially one of tone.

        For the record, I support Tolman’s candidacy but I’ve praised Maura Healey and her work at the AG’s office and I think she could make a strong AG. I would like to hear from her, though, whether she would change those aspects of AG Coakley’s tenure that I find more problematic.

    • Unfair

      This post is really unfair, demeter11.

      • Why?

        I have no particular dog in this fight, but why is demeter’s description unfair?

        • Here's Why

          Pretty baseless attack

          I said I liked Healy and appreciate her work on marriage equality where even the AG (whom I have critiqued on other grounds) did a great job. I simply stated I don’t see this office being visible protecting consumers, the environment, or workers rights. If you could point to cases where she has fought for these things that’s one thing, fighting for marriage equality, while laudable, is wholly unrelated to the environment.

          And bashing Sen. Tolman for ‘losing’ his LG race is unfair since he ran with Harshbarger who lost. Bashing him for appearing on Fox is also unfair since the local affiliate isn’t Fox News and his views stated on those programs are entirely his own and entirely progressive. He authored our clean election law and ran following it’s guidelines. He has passed legislation protecting our environment, advancing gun safety, and cleaning up our politics. He and his brother have actually been union members and walked picket lines I do not doubt their commitment to organized labor.

          Healy may very well share these commitments, but her record achieving victories advancing them is far more limited. I’ll proudly vote
          for her if she wins the nomination, she will make a good AG, but Tolman will make a great one and that’s the difference.

          jconway @ Thu 3 Apr 7:44 PM

        • Seriously

          And to summarize:

          1) Demeter leads with “I guess they’re friends but” in order to discredit and dismiss what was genuinely a heartfelt, well-reasoned endorsement from the Environmental League of Massachusetts. This is unfair.

          2) Tolman is and always has been a leading progressive voice in Massachusetts. To imply that being a Democratic commentator on Fox 25 (not Fox News as Demeter claimed) is contradictory or somehow hypocritical is absurd. And unfair.

          3) Discussing Tolman’s work for Holland and Knight is fair enough. To rely on an out-of-context quote from the Boston Herald’s Joe Battenfeld as the sole source of “debate” on this topic is ridiculous. And unfair.

          4) The nonsense about how Tolman has run (or, I guess, “toyed with running”) in six races in the last 25 years is just that. Nonsense. And unfair.

          5) Fundamentally unfair is demeter’s characterization of a progressive candidate with a demonstrated record of public service as “someone who been making a lot of money and connections in a corporate law firm while staying in the public eye as a Fox commentator and running for multiple offices.”

          • Not sold

            I don’t blame you for not liking demeter’s harsh spin on Tolman’s bio, but I’m not convinced it falls on the side of unfair.

            But, not my fight, so I’ll shut up now.

            • I shouldn't be the topic

              I didn’t intend a harsh spin but I see how it read that way. Yes, Tolman did good work in the legislature. But a lot has happened in the environment since then. And there really is a dearth of information about the last 12 years of this candidate for a major, consequential office in our state.
              And the more I’m accused of being “unfair,” the more curious I become at why my comment is the topic of conversation here and the answers to my questions are not.
              To repeat: My questions are all about what Mr. Tolman has done for the last 12 years? We were all chomping at the bit for Gabriel Gomez to disclose this kind of information: the clients he represented, lobbying, hedge fund work, any potential conflicts of interests.
              Voters deserve to know more about a candidate before we annoint him, even if he is a great guy. And minority opinions deserve thoughtful consideration rather than easy characterizations and condemnations.

              • Fine

                That is perfectly fair, you couldn’t have just asked that question without implying this heartfelt endorsement was a quid pro quo? Without bashing him for going on Fox? Without quoting the unreliable Herald? Without assuming working at a corporate law firm somehow makes him less supportive of labor, the environment, gun control, or any of the issues he is running on?

                Tolman has a strong record prior to his 02′ run and since then. Healy also has a strong record, but like Fenway, I want to hear what she will do differently and I want her to answer questions here. I also still don’t know how her work on marriage equality related to whether or not she is better than Tolman on the environment.

              • Oh my

                You’re not the topic. Your comment is.

                And the more I’m accused of being “unfair,” the more curious I become at why my comment is the topic of conversation here and the answers to my questions are not.

                That sounds trollish. Sorry but it does. But I guess now you’re no longer the topic, so there’s that.

                We were all chomping at the bit for Gabriel Gomez to disclose this kind of information: the clients he represented, lobbying, hedge fund work, any potential conflicts of interests.

                No we weren’t. We might have mentioned it, but we chomped at no bits. None of us really considered voting for him.

                Voters deserve to know more about a candidate before we anoint him, even if he is a great guy. And minority opinions deserve thoughtful consideration rather than easy characterizations and condemnations.

                Minority opinions are the coin of this realm. And no one is anointing Tolman.

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