The Massachusetts Sierra Club Welcomes Chapter Director, Emily Norton
am delighted to introduce myself as the new
Director of the Massachusetts Sierra Club Chapter. I am honored
and privileged to join an organization that has been fighting for clean
air, clean water, healthy forests, habitat and more since 1892.
It is particularly exciting to be an environmental advocate in Massachusetts, because our Commonwealth carries disproportionate influence and has done so since our nation’s founding. The first public park, the first university, the first public library … Massachusetts can lay claim to all. We were the first state to fully abolish slavery, and more recently, to legalize gay marriage. And we all know that “Obamacare” began here as “Romneycare.”
What this means for environmental advocacy is that we in Massachusetts hold a special responsibility to develop and enact laws and regulations that make sense for our own coastlines, air and forests, but can also serve as examples to other states and to a federal government too often deadlocked in partisan conflict.
We already have much to be proud of. We have been number one in energy efficiency four years in a row. We have enacted aggressive climate legislation (Global Warming Solutions Act and Green Communities Act). We played a leadership role in establishing the country’s first regional carbon cap and trade program. We will be entirely coal-free in 2017 when the state’s last coal plant, Brayton Point, is retired.
From designating the Boston Harbor Islands as a National Park, to communities banning supermarket plastic bags, to countless local efforts protecting state forests and parks, fisheries and coastal resources, to cleaning up the Cape Cod aquifer, the Massachusetts Sierra Club has been at the center of protecting our state’s beautiful natural assets, the health of our wildlife, and our health.
But we know there is much more to be done. The unprecedented snowfall this winter vividly reminds us again that human behavior is changing our climate. And the stakes could not be higher. It will take commitment and action by all of us to reverse these trends and stake out a new path toward a future powered by clean energy and based on true sustainability.
Here are just a few issues I am excited to be working on with you:
- Stop the Pipelines: Proposed pipelines would build much more capacity than we need and would take land by eminent domain across Massachusetts to allow Marcellus shale gas to be imported into our region and exported overseas. We should invest in a clean energy future, not commit ourselves to more fossil fuel infrastructure.
- Plug The Gas Leaks: Legislation proposed by Rep. Lori Ehrlich and Sen. Jamie Eldridge incentivizes utilities to fix natural gas leaks that are estimated to be wasting enough gas to supply 200,000 homes a year. Let’s fix the leaks rather than build new pipelines for billions of dollars.
- Put a Price on Carbon: Mass Sierra Club is part of a broad coalition seeking to price carbon to reflect the actual cost of fossil-fuel burning activities, and encourage more investment in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. Massachusetts can lead the way for other states trying to properly price carbon.
- Promote Clean and Renewable Energy: From increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard, to raising net metering limits, to expanding wind and community solar options, we can do much more to expand renewable, clean energy choices.
- Switch to Electric Vehicles: EVs emit no tailpipe emissions and produce fewer greenhouse gases. While Massachusetts offers a generous $2,500 rebate for a new EV purchase or lease, we can do more to encourage consumers to switch from cars powered by petroleum to cars powered by electricity.
- Environmental Justice: As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote recently, “…communities of color are almost always the ones most affected by pollution. That's not an inconvenience. It's a matter of life and death, from the refineries of Texas to the tar sands of Canada.” From air pollution causing higher rates of asthma in urban communities, to low-wage workers losing a day’s pay when the underfunded MBTA is shut down, to the elderly and low-income communities most at risk from superstorms, we know that in this fight to preserve our planet, the stakes are highest for those who can least afford it.
issues would YOU like to see the Massachusetts Sierra Club work on?
Please call or email me, our Chapter Coordinator, or any of our fantastic
Chapter volunteer leaders; our contact information is here.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport”
as they say, and at no time is that more true than when we are opposing
fossil fuel interests, the bottler industry, and others who profit from
There is strength in numbers!
- Please join or renew your membership.
- Have a friend or relative who cares about the environment? Give them a gift membership.
- If you can contribute at a higher level, please consider doing so.
- If you can volunteer in any way make calls, write a letter, send an email, sit at a Sierra Club table, write an article or letter to the editor let us know.
I bring to this job passion for environmental protection, and a
background in policy and politics: as an elected official in my hometown
of Newton (where with Sierra Club help we just passed a plastic bag ban!)
and over ten years as a consultant researching and writing about energy
efficiency and sustainable transportation. That followed Washington DC
stints fundraising for a political non-profit and as a Clinton
Administration political appointee at the Bureau of Oceans, Environment
and Science in the U.S. State Department. My very first job out of college
was Recycling Coordinator for Burlington, Vermont, where I sorted the
contents of a packer truck (weighing recyclables) and marched in an Earth
Day parade dressed as a blue recycling bin. (Any photos will remain
sealed!) I hold a BA in Philosophy from the University of Vermont
and a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Let’s get to work! Future generations are counting on us.