BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS/WWLP)– As the Baker administration tries to get its favored energy and environment legislation across the finish line in the next three months, it will be without Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, who announced Wednesday that she is resigning on May 6.
Beth Card, the undersecretary of environmental policy and climate resilience, will take over that same day as Gov. Charlie Baker’s third head of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Theoharides would not say Wednesday what “new professional opportunity” she is leaving the administration for, and said serving as EEA secretary was her “dream job.” “The tireless efforts of Secretary Theoharides have resulted in the creation of critical climate change programs, investment in the commonwealth’s renewable energy portfolio and the advancement of the administration’s decarbonization goals. She is a tough act to follow,” Card said at a press conference.
Theoharides joined the Baker administration in 2016 as director of climate and global warming solutions at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs after spending six years running an environmental consulting business. She was promoted to assistant secretary for climate change in 2017 and became secretary when Matt Beaton resigned in 2019.
While Theoharides was Secretary several major climate initiatives and infrastructure projects were accomplished including:
- Deployment of the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm and the development and selection of its second and third round of procurements that will bring 3,600 Megawatts of clean, affordable power to the Massachusetts grid – enough energy to power an estimated 608,000 homes.
- Created a nation-leading climate resiliency partnership between the Commonwealth and its municipalities through the voluntary Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program that in just four years enrolled over 95% of the state’s cities and towns while also leading the Administration’s effort to comprehensively plan for statewide climate change resiliency and invest over $1 billion for climate solutions.
- Established an aggressive limit of net zero emissions by 2050, and developed the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap Study, a first-in-the-nation planning effort to reach this milestone affordably and equitably.
- Charted the deployment of clean energy strategies and policies to achieve emission limits for the next decade through the 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan, including advanced building codes, enhanced programs to improve low carbon transportation options and electric vehicle adoption, and power sector market reform.
- Oversaw development of a critical updates to Massachusetts solar program, the renewable portfolio standard, the three-year energy efficiency plan, and creation of the Clean Peak Program.
- Launched and managed one of the largest grant programs in EEA history, the $58 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, awarding funding to farms, food pantries, non-profit organizations, communities, schools, and food distributors to build a more resilient local food system.
- Helped to enshrine environmental justice protections into state law and created the EEA Environmental Justice Task Force.
- Invested over $112 million to protect more than 36,500 acres of natural resources, maintain sustainable working forest, conserve critical wildlife habitat, protect water resources, and ensure continued public access to the property for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, and other outdoor recreation.
- Provided equitable access to the state’s park system including access to free swimming lessons across the Commonwealth.
- Committed over $1.8 million to support the DCR Summer Night program that provided fun, engaging activities for young people across the Commonwealth.
“Secretary Theoharides has been dedicated to making Massachusetts a national leader in climate solutions, including guiding the development of the offshore wind industry. Katie has done a tremendous job leading our administration’s statewide efforts to comprehensively plan for the effects of climate change, and I wish her all the best in the future,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Beth Card has a deep knowledge of environmental policy and a wealth of experience in leading climate resiliency efforts in state government, and we are glad to appoint her as Secretary.”
Card said she has spent her entire career in public service and served as the director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority before joining the administration in 2021. A Newburyport resident, Card holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire and the Massachusetts School of Law.
As Theoharides prepares to depart, the Baker administration is making the case for a $3.5 billion economic development bill that includes $97 million in additional environmental infrastructure grants, $64 million in clean water projects, $231 million in funding for parks and trails, and $750 million for a clean energy innovation center. The administration is also busy implementing the 2021 climate roadmap law, developing a new stretch energy code and working to secure additional offshore wind power. “Much of the important work she began in EEA will continue this year under Beth’s leadership,” Baker said of the transition