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Environmental groups give Baker administration a ‘C’

The Baker administration deserves a “middling grade” for its energy and environmental efforts, according to a new report from several environmental groups.

The report, released Thursday, gave the administration a “C” for its work on issues ranging from energy and water to land protection and funding for environmental programs.

The administration received its highest grade, a “B+,” for electric vehicle and tree planting programs, but was given a failing mark for its efforts to monitor and curb runoff and other nutrient pollution in the state’s rivers, lakes, and other waterways.

The report also gave the administration a “D” for its work on gas pipelines, the reduction of toxic chemicals, and water pollution control.

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“Inadequate funding and staffing, combined with adverse policy decisions documented in this report, are creating a crisis in terms of protecting natural resources and combating climate change,” said Nancy Goodman, vice president for policy at the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

The report noted that state spending on environmental protection this year fell $16 million to $215 million, or 0.54 percent of the state’s $39.6 billion budget, despite Governor Charlie Baker’s campaign pledge to boost spending on environmental programs to 1 percent of the state budget.

State environmental officials defended their efforts, which have been led by Matthew Beaton, secretary of energy and environmental affairs.

“While the secretary is appreciative of outside opinions, he is especially proud of the efforts of the Baker-Polito administration to expand access to public lands and outdoor opportunities for urban youth, increase funding for state parks, invest in energy efficiency, and enhance the state’s solar capacity,” said Peter Lorenz, a spokesman for Beaton.

He noted that the administration has sought an increase in spending for state parks and youth recreational programs, legislation to boost the state’s supply of hydroelectric power, and other programs that would curb carbon emissions and pollution.

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The report was issued by the Environmental League, Clean Water Action, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Massachusetts, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, and the Massachusetts Sierra Club.

It was the first time they have released such a report.

Asked why they decided to grade the administration, Goodman said: “We were particularly troubled, as indicated in the report, about the confluence of more budget cuts, early retirements, a regulatory review that took up considerable staff time, and some policy decisions that raised concerns.”


David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.