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Few surprises in environmental forum for candidates

There were no surprises this afternoon when Republican Charlie Baker, Democrat Martha Coakley, and two independent candidates for governor fielded questions at a forum on environmental issues at Suffolk University Law School.

Baker and Coakley agreed on a broad range of issues. They said they support the state’s goals of cutting carbon emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050; planned to seek ways for the state’s coastal communities to adapt to rising sea levels; and intend to boost the budgets of the state’s environmental agencies.

RELATED: On environment, candidates agree on core issues, disagree on specifics


They differed, however, on Question 1 on the November ballot, which would repeal a 2013 law that ties gas tax increases to inflation, allowing for automatic annual increases. Baker supports it, because he thinks the Legislature should not shirk its responsibility on voting for tax increases; Coakley opposes it, arguing it’s necessary to support the state’s aging infrastructure.

They also noted their disagreement on another ballot initiative, Question 2, which would expand the state’s bottle law to include non-carbonated beverages such as water and sports drinks. Baker opposes the initiative, saying he thinks there are better ways to encourage recycling; Coakley said she supports it “absolutely.”

The candidates gave similar answers on questions about water policy, the state’s reliance on natural gas, and protecting land.

The forum was organized by the Environmental League of Massachusetts.

They candidates took turns standing at a podium answering the same questions, which were provided to them in advance by the organizers. There were few follow-up questions and the candidates did not interact.