Hello, I’m David Cash, the new Commissioner at MassDEP. I am committed to building on the excellent work of Ken Kimmell to advance the agenda at the agency in order to support a healthier and more sustainable place to live in our communities, to raise families, to grow our businesses and to protect the ecosystems upon which we and future generations depend.
I have devoted almost a decade working in state government addressing challenges and seizing opportunities at the intersection of environment, energy and the economy. You can also find out more about me at: www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/about/commissioner/commissioner-david-w-cash-biography.html
For many of you, my new post at MassDEP will continue or re-start collaborative relationships I’ve had with you in the past, and for those who don’t know me yet, I look forward to working together.
Through the leadership of Governor Patrick and EEA Secretary Sullivan, MassDEP has secured its status as one of the most innovative and effective environmental departments in the nation. I plan on keeping it that way, and during the remaining months of 2014 I plan to prioritize the following:
Climate Change and the Clean Energy Economy. This is one of the defining issues of our time, and Massachusetts is a nation-leading force to address this issue on so many different levels: reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mitigating energy price volatility, improving energy security and growing clean energy jobs. We will continue to lead the way when it comes to the reduction of power plant emissions under the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and with the new, lowered emissions cap, the program will greatly cut GHGs while making funds available for energy efficiency efforts. We will also keep up our efforts to support the deployment of more zero-emission and alternative technology vehicles, as well as the placement of solar panels or wind turbines on closed landfills or once-contaminated parcels.
Solid Waste and Recycling. We will continue to implement the Solid Waste Master Plan that seeks to significantly reduce waste generation and increase materials recycling and reuse. The major priority this year will be the nation-leading implementation of the food waste and organics ban, which takes effect on October 1. MassDEP will work with the regulated entities to ensure a smooth transition, so that the food waste and organic materials that make up to 25 percent of the waste stream today can be pulled out and easily composted or sent to an anaerobic digestion facility where it will be turned into a renewable energy source. These efforts provide a win-win-win-win: waste disposal costs will be lowered; methane emissions from landfills will decrease; new renewable energy and other products can be utilized; and new businesses will start and expand. In addition, MassDEP will continue to support the passage of an expanded bottle bill to drive greater recycling rates and decrease litter.
Sustainable Water Management Initiative. The final implementation of SWMI will be a key priority in 2014. After four years of study and stakeholder discussions, the draft Water Management Act regulatory package and SWMI guidance will be issued shortly. The science-based Safe Yield Determination and the Stream-flow Criteria will ensure that the fragile ecosystem within our rivers and streams is protected while there is enough water for human needs such as drinking water and public safety. This is actually an issue that I worked on intensely in the year before I went to the DPU.
Cutting-Edge Information Technology. MassDEP is leading the way from the old, inefficient information technology system into a new world called EIPAS (Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System). This new system will offer agency-wide paperless online permitting, provide detailed information about regulated facilities, enforcement activities and environmental conditions to citizens online, greatly expand agency efficiency through computer-assisted tools like remote sensing instruments and hand-held electronic devices, and automated compliance screening of data. The selection of a vendor and EIPAS implementation will be a priority this year.
Regulatory Reform. Over the last few years, MassDEP has been extremely active in performing a top-to-bottom review of all of its regulations to find ways to eliminate inefficiencies while achieving strong environmental outcomes with less staff labor. Many of those regulatory reforms have been implemented already, including a critical update of the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, but many drinking water, wastewater and air quality reforms – among others – are yet to be finished, so we will complete those as early as possible this year.
As you can see with all of these important priorities, environmental protection goes hand-in-hand with economic development. The myth that says environmental protection and renewable energy implementation hinder state economic progress has been debunked. In fact, the opposite has been proven true. Between 1990 and 2012, greenhouse gas emissions were cut by 10 percent, but the state’s economy during that same period grew by 68 percent. Massachusetts is leading the way to a clean energy economy and reaping some of the benefits in economic growth.
I am honored to join with you as we continue making a positive difference for the people and environment of Massachusetts. Stay tuned for information about upcoming opportunities to discuss program reforms or send your ideas right now to: MassDEP.Commissioner@state.ma.us
David W. Cash