AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A climate report that Gov. Maura Healey identified as a top priority at the start of her administration appears to be held up in the governor’s office.
On her second day in office, Healey filed an executive order creating a first-in-the-nation position of climate chief, and tasked the person she appointed to the role with analyzing the state’s executive offices and recommending ways to bring their operations more in line with the state’s climate goals.
“It was important to the lieutenant governor and me that we take this action immediately, because we have no time to delay,” Healey said on Jan. 6, during a press conference about the new Cabinet-level climate position.
The executive order outlined how the new climate chief could propose legislative or regulatory changes to “maximize the efficacy of unified executive department decision-making and action on policies relating to climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.”
The order gave Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer 180 days to present initial recommendations to the governor.
Those 180 days were up on July 5. Hoffer delivered the report to Healey on July 7, at which time Healey spokeswoman Karissa Hand told the News Service the review was “still being finalized.” On July 10, Hand said the report “was presented to the Governor” and that “we should be ready to publicize it in a couple of weeks.”
Nearly two months after Hoffer’s initial due date, it has yet to emerge from the governor’s office.
At her press conference to announce the order, Healey described Hoffer’s report as “a comprehensive review of current staffing, policymaking and resources of all secretaries to support a whole government approach to addressing climate change.”
Asked Monday for the status of Hoffer’s report, and what is holding it up, Hand responded, “We are planning to make it public in the coming weeks.”
Vick Mohanka, acting chapter director of the Sierra Club Massachusetts Chapter, said he and other environmental activists have been “eagerly awaiting this report” but that it wasn’t a “priority” for them, as the administration has taken steps toward hiring environmental policy experts and competing for federal climate-related funding.
“It’s been a goal for the environmental community for a while to have more concrete steps for each secretariat and the whole government to be able to approach these issues,” Mohanka said. “That’s why we think it’s okay if it takes longer. They’re very busy people, we understand that.”
Hand did not respond to questions about what was being “finalized” within the report, or if executive departments have received copies yet of Chief Hoffer’s review to start implementing the recommended changes.
“Our focus is going to be really on making sure that we’re driving climate policy across, as much as we can, the executive branch and through and across all the agencies and departments,” Healey said at the January press conference.
In addition to establishing the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience, Healey made several other lofty climate promises on the campaign trail.
She said she would put the state on track to achieve a 100 percent clean electricity supply by 2030 and electrify public transportation with clean power by 2040. The governor will also have to work toward the target the Department of Environmental Protection officially set to cut down waste disposal by 30 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050, and the state’s commitment to have net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We’ve already seen a lot of action going in the direction that we want from the administration. This isn’t something where we feel like they’re ignoring their duty by missing this deadline,” Mohanka said.