Baker-Polito Administration Announces Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Grant Program
Program to Assist Communities Prepare for Climate Change and Build Resilience
SHELBURNE FALLS – April 19, 2017 - Continuing its commitment to working with communities and local partners to prevent and prepare for climate change, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program. The new grant program, which builds on Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569, will provide funding to cities and towns to complete a community-driven process to identify hazards and develop strategies to improve resilience. The announcement was made by state environmental officials at a tour of the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls as part of the Commonwealth’s Earth Week celebration.
“Climate change is a challenge that impacts every corner of the state, and combatting it properly requires collaborative work between state and local partners,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “By providing grants to communities, the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program will help the Commonwealth identify key climate-related vulnerabilities throughout Massachusetts so that we can effectively deal with these challenges.”
“Cities and towns across the Commonwealth are critical partners as Massachusetts implements a comprehensive approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and safeguard our residents from the impacts of climate change,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “With this program we’re ensuring that our communities can access technical assistance and planning tools to engage local officials, municipal staff, and residents in preparing for climate change.”
Through the MVP Program, municipalities will be better equipped to plan and prepare for climate change, and state government will gain a better understanding of the challenges communities face. Additionally, the program will help ensure coordinated statewide efforts and align programs with the critical challenges facing communities.
The program will be delivered by state-certified MVP providers using a standardized toolkit for assessing vulnerability and developing strategies, and the best available statewide climate projections and data. Upon successful completion of the program, municipalities will be designated as a “Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program community,” which may lead to increased standing in future funding opportunities.
“The MVP program is a critical component of implementing Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 on climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This program will help communities understand their vulnerabilities and risks, but also the strengths they already have that make them resilient. We look forward to working with our local partners to build on these strengths and create a more resilient Commonwealth. ”
“We are proud to be a partner in this effort to assist municipalities anticipate and prepare for the effects of climate change,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett. “These grants will foster important collaboration, which will allow cities and towns to effectively plan for and recover from damaging storms and extreme weather.”
In September 2016, Governor Baker signed an Executive Order which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. The Order, Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth, represents the collaboration between the Office of the Governor, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and key state, local and environmental stakeholders.
The Executive Order ensures that Massachusetts will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency within government operations. The Order also directs the development and implementation of a statewide comprehensive climate adaptation plan that will provide a blueprint for protecting the built and natural environment of the Commonwealth, based on the best available data on existing and projected climate change impacts. Recognizing the need to strengthen the resilience of communities throughout Massachusetts a key commitment in this order is coordinating assistance to cities and towns as they prepare for the impacts of climate change.
“Our small towns will benefit from the expertise offered by the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Pittsfield). “Unfortunately, severe weather events like blizzards, tropical storms and even tornados seem to occur with more frequency in western Mass. Each time nature strikes hard we need to activate emergency response and assess damages. My hope is that this community resilience process will identify ways to limit damage in the future.”
“The MVP Program will be a valuable tool for communities to use in dealing with the impacts of climate change on our surroundings, especially those caused by severe storms and weather-related natural disasters,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “This will be especially important in our small rural Hilltowns, where the terrain, many gravel roads, and preponderance of rivers and streams can result in extraordinarily high damage from flooding and erosion in an event such as Tropical Storm Irene just a few years ago. Climate scientists predict that such events will occur more frequently in the future, and I am pleased that the MVP Program will help our towns to be better prepared to respond and to manage the impacts.”
“This innovative effort will assist cities and towns across the Commonwealth by connecting them with tools and resources to help move us from shared concerns to specific steps to deal with climate change,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “The MVP program is geared toward giving communities the tools they need to put local leadership into action, using the expertise available in our state.”
“We must work on local, state, regional and global levels to make our communities more resilient to the harmful effects of climate change,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), founding chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “If we do not, the costs will be astronomical. Vulnerability preparedness plans for our municipalities are great first steps in the protection of our economy, public health and built and natural infrastructures, and a complement to Governor Baker’s executive order last year. We must commit to codifying such plans in statute; the Massachusetts State Senate, for example, passed a climate adaptation management plan three times in our last legislative session. Climate change is happening now. If gone unchecked, it will wreak immense havoc on current and future generations. We must be proactive in protecting our communities.”
“I applaud Governor Baker and Secretary Beaton for their leadership in helping build resilient communities in the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Frank Smizik (D-Brookline). “Climate change is a global issue, but many of its solutions are local. Planning for the impacts of climate change in our communities saves lives, saves money, and protects our natural and built environment. The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program will provide our cities and towns with the tools and guidance necessary to make regionally specific adaptation plans in response to the environmental impacts of climate change. This program is a necessary step forward in order to ensure the safety of residents across Massachusetts.”
“The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program will allow cities and towns to access the funding and expertise they need to help them identify and prepare for potential hazards related to climate change,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “This is just another example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing commitment to building strong state-municipal partnerships to improve the lives of all Massachusetts residents.”
“The Town of Buckland experienced four million dollars in flood damage from Hurricane Irene so it is very appropriate you hold this grant announcement here,” said Rob Riggins, Chair of the Buckland Board of Selectmen. “We appreciate this opportunity to help future generations prepare for events like Irene.”
“We applaud the Baker Administration’s leadership in launching the MVP program to help community resiliency by enhancing safety, reducing costs and restoring natural resources,” said Wayne Klockner, state director for the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. “The MVP program illustrates the importance of public and private collaboration on climate resiliency.”