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Markowitz: Mass. can rebuild both environment & economy

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MIDDLEBOROUGH, MA: August 4, 2020: Fire crews respond to a downed tree and wires on Mill Street in Middleborough, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald) Massachusetts has received but not yet spent almost $5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act Congress passed earlier this year. State and local leaders are still weighing what to do with that windfall.

As the former head of a state environmental agency who helped allocate similarly large pots of federal money in the wake of the Great Recession and the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, I have some advice.

Investing in “nature-based” solutions — such as restoring wetlands and removing inactive dams to reduce the risk of flooding — would deliver among the best returns. These infrastructure investments mitigate the consequences of climate change. They also create and sustain jobs — and have the potential to protect and support historically underserved communities.

After enduring three tropical storms and record-setting heat waves this summer, New Englanders need no reminder of the dangers and financial burden posed by extreme weather. Hurricane Ida caused up to $8 billion in insured property damage throughout the Northeast. Flooding has crippled transportation networks. High winds have caused days-long power outages.

Sweltering temperatures […]

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