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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Continuing from yesterday's radio show

Here's the rest of the questions answered by Mike Ross, mayoral candidate in Boston, as presented to the Boston Globe:

7. What would you do to promote renewable energy in Boston? Do you envision more solar panels on city buildings? Wind turbines on city land.

In 2008, I held a city council hearing on the feasibility of implementing wind turbines in the city of Boston to explore both turbines along the water and on municipal buildings themselves. While Boston is one of the windiest cities, permitting and installing wind turbines are very difficult.

Luckily, there are a large number of opportunities for solar energy installation sites on city-owned buildings like schools. Boston should continue working toward the goal of 25 Megawatts of installed solar energy by 2015, leading by installing solar in city-owned or managed property as well as promoting solar to businesses and homeowners through Renew Boston. Solar thermal often has even greater financial return than solar PV and the City of Boston should establish an aggressive goal for kBTU/hrs of installed solar thermal, including Boston Housing Authority buildings.

8. The state’s bottle law has not been updated in more than 30 years to allow noncarbonated beverages to be redeemed for a nickel, as it allows for soda, beer, and malt beverages. Would you support a ballot initiative to change the law, and would you use the mayor’s bully pulpit to seek support? 

Reducing the use of bottled water and ensuring the ability to easily recycle used bottles are critical to minimizing the amount of plastic waste generated and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated from transporting bottled water. I support the current iteration of the Bottle Bill in the State House as a way to reduce waste associated with bottled water. I also strongly support public education efforts to encourage people to drink tap water and use reusable water bottles instead of single-serve bottled water.

As Mayor, I would support the legislation to ban the use of municipal funds to purchase bottled water with the exception of use by first responders in emergency preparedness and response situations when no other option for potable water exists. I would, however, direct emergency personnel to investigate viable alternatives to bottled water so that the city can be completely free of bottled water.

9. Six years ago, city officials set a goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2020, but for many reasons, as of last year, they had only planted about 10 percent of the promised trees. Is this a priority for you and what if anything would you do to try to complete the goal?

We need to commit to that goal. As with many problems, my first instinct is to say, “who is doing this better?” New York, with their MillionTrees NYC program, is seeing a lot of success by bringing together local partners with corporate sponsors. I’d see what we could do to duplicate that model and get back on track towards our goal.

10. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that Suffolk County has more diesel pollution — 300 times the amount considered acceptable by the federal government — than 99 percent of the nation’s counties, more than one-third of it spewed by construction equipment. What would you do to reduce diesel and other pollution?

It’s unacceptable that our levels of air pollution are that high, and it’s unacceptable that a lot of that pollution is concentrated in some of our poorest neighborhoods. Children from those neighborhoods are more likely to have asthma and other medical conditions, which plague them for the rest of their lives. One way we can fight air pollution is by enforcing laws that are already on the books. Idling — leaving a car or truck on while parked — is a huge contributor to air pollution. It’s actually a ticketable offense, but we only have a few people covering the whole city. I have suggested deputizing our parking enforcement officers so those officers are able to also give out tickets for idling. They are already out walking the streets, and would be uniquely positioned to be our first line of defense in tackling this problem.

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