BOSTON - Remember the "Snowpocalypse" winter of 2015 that greeted newly-elected Governor Charlie Baker?
The next governor will face a crisis of their own - electricity costs that will send your utility bills soaring. And GOP candidate Geoff Diehl sees an opportunity to draw a contrast.
"We're at an energy crisis right now," he says. "Maura Healey's solution to all this is to create a finance plan with your energy provider - basically to borrow money to heat your home this winter if you can't afford it."
The Healey campaign declined an on-camera response, but in a statement blamed "big fossil fuel companies" for getting us into this mess and said she would pursue federal fuel aid and a waiver of a federal law that restricts domestic shipping of natural gas.
Diehl says, "Maura Healey is proud to talk about blocking two natural gas pipelines into our state which feed manufacturing and home heating," and that's true. During a WBUR forum on environmental issues last spring, Healey bragged about it. And while experts we spoke with say the war in Ukraine is at the heart of our energy crunch, they also said regional pipeline constraints are a part of the problem.
A Healey spokesperson said the candidate believes clean energy is "the way out of this mess," and claims "overreliance on natural gas has left us vulnerable." But Diehl says she's all wrong. "We need to utilize free market solutions for energy, keep all energy options in the portfolio," he says. "Renewable energy, while we want to have it, can't possibly provide all the power for commercial and residential buildings and run every vehicle in the state."
So who's got the upper hand in this argument?
Even here in Massachusetts, one of the most environmentally-aware states in the nation, the environment ranks low in polls of what voters think are the most important issues and the cost of living ranks high. Diehl made a point of saying that he supports pursuing renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and Healey is always careful to express concern with economic anxiety.
But in the video of Diehl's press conference, we noticed that one of the three questions he was asked was about whether or not former President Trump will come here to campaign for him. Diehl's ability to get traction on energy or any other issues remains hampered by that political affiliation.
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