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"The undue influence of climate polluters has no place in any legislative system," said state senator Marc  Pacheco. (Photo: Daniel Mennerich/flickr/cc)

To Counter Dirty Energy Influence, These 35 Candidates Are Rejecting Fossil Fuel Cash

'In the face of the climate crisis, Massachusetts needs lawmakers who are free to stand up to fossil fuel companies and utilities'

Deirdre Fulton

Setting a potential example for political hopefuls nationwide, 35 candidates for the Massachusetts state legislature have pledged to refuse campaign contributions from executives, lobbyists, and others employed by 10 major fossil fuel and utility companies through the duration of the 2016 election cycle.

The Clean Money for Climate Pledge, launched this week by 350 Mass Action, requires candidates to refuse donations of $200 or more from employees of 10 corporations: BP, Chevron, Eversource, ExxonMobil, Global Partners, Global Petroleum, Kinder Morgan, National Grid, Shell, and Spectra Energy. Each of those entities, the group says, has a "history of making significant campaign contributions in the state"—as well as an interest in influencing state energy policy.

MassLive reports:

Among those companies, employees of National Grid, Eversource, Global Partners, and Global Petroleum in particular have contributed thousands of dollars to numerous state legislators over the years, according to state campaign finance data.

Eversource and National Grid, the Boston Globe reported earlier this month, lobbied heavily on Beacon Hill to make their priorities known as the legislature debated a major energy bill—and they came out as "big winners" when "legislative leadership sent [Gov. Charlie] Baker a bill that largely resembled the utility-friendly version approved by the House, containing only pieces of the more environmentally focused Senate version."

And, 350 Mass Action pointed out on Twitter, the pledge targets four companies that appear on a recently compiled list of 90 companies and government-run industries that are responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world's carbon emissions:

"All of these companies continue to advocate against a transition to renewable energy," said 350 Mass Action executive director Craig Altemose. "In the face of the climate crisis, Massachusetts needs lawmakers who are free to stand up to fossil fuel companies and utilities and lead us safely to a future powered by 100 percent clean, renewable energy."

Those who have signed include incumbents and challengers alike, all Democrats save two.

State House News Service reports:

Ten candidates for Senate have so far signed the pledge, including all three Democrats—Andrea Harrington, Rinaldo del Gallo, and Adam Hinds—and the one Republican, Christine Canning, running for the open Senate seat in western Massachusetts being vacated by Sen. Benjamin Downing, the co-chair of the legislature's energy committee.

Sens. Marc Pacheco, who chairs the Senate Committee on Global Warming, and William Brownsberger, and Patricia Jehlen all signed the pledge, as did Jehlen's Democratic primary rival Leland Cheung.

On the House side, five incumbent Democrats have already signed the pledge: Reps. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, Sean Garballey, Marjorie Decker, Denise Provost, and Tim Toomey. All six Democrats seeking the party nomination for retiring Rep. Ellen Story's seat signed on, as did Keri Thompson and Joan Meschino, two of the candidates running write-in campaigns in former Rep. Garrett Bradley's South Shore district.

Thompson, who is running under the United Independent Party, is the only other non-Democrat in addition to Canning to sign the pledge.

"The undue influence of climate polluters has no place in any legislative system," said Pacheco in a statement. "As legislators, it is our job to create effective policy for those in the Commonwealth by using sense and science."

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