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Lawmakers call for firing climate change official after controversial video

State representatives blast David Ismay for saying the state needs to break the will of ordinary people to reduce carbon emissions

Screengrab of a video clip posted by the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, David Ismay, the state's undersecretary for climate change (second row right), told the Vermont Climate Council that 60 percent of the state's emissions come from residential heating and passenger vehicles.Youtube


Eight state representatives, mostly Republicans, called on Governor Charlie Baker to “immediately dismiss” a top state climate official over controversial comments he made about pushing consumers to lower their carbon emissions.

In a video clip posted by the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, the state’s undersecretary for climate change, David Ismay, told the Vermont Climate Council that 60 percent of the state’s emissions come from residential heating and passenger vehicles. So efforts to combat climate change would have to include average people — “you, the person (inaudible) the street, the senior on fixed income.”

“There is no bad guy left, at least in Massachusetts, to point the finger at, turn the screws on, and break their will so they stop emitting,” Ismay said in the recording. “That’s you, we have to break your will, right. I can’t even say that publicly.”

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The lawmakers wrote Baker that amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown, “the last thing this administration should be doing is ‘turning the screws’ on the ‘senior on fixed income’ and ‘the person across the street.’ ” They said that Ismay’s “position as a public servant is completely untenable.”

The statement was signed by Democratic Representative Colleen Garry and seven Republican representatives: Nicholas Boldyga, Marc Lombardo, David DeCoste, Peter Durant, Donald Berthiaume, Joseph McKenna, and Alyson Sullivan.

Last week, Baker said at a news conference that no one in his administration “should ever say or think anything like that,” and that Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides would have a conversation with Ismay.

Baker also pointed to his veto last month of a wide-ranging climate change bill and the concerns he raised about the costs it would create. The climate bill is back on Baker’s desk after the House and Senate approved a refiled version of it now that the Legislature is into a new two-year session.

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Prior to joining the Baker administration in 2019, Ismay was a senior attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston, where he focused on Massachusetts energy and climate policy and New England’s wholesale electricity and gas markets.