Sustainability Energy

Where Deval Patrick, an ex-oil executive, stands on clean energy

Photo of Deval Patrick
Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaks on a panel on leadership during times of crisis at the Newseum in Washington, DC, February 22, 2016.  SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • Deval Patrick was governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015, and claims to have made the state “a leader on greenhouse gas reductions and on creation of clean energy jobs.”
  • Patrick has a history working in big business, including oil giant Texaco.
  • Patrick spoke about innovation and clean energy at Michigan Law in October.

This morning, Deval Patrick (D), former Massachusetts governor, announced that he’s joining the presidential race. Environmental activists raised concerns over his history as an executive at oil giant Texaco, the Washington Post reports, but Patrick later supported clean energy policies during his time as governor. In October, Patrick discussed innovation and clean energy at Michigan Law

Patrick focused on increasing clean-tech jobs to revitalize the Massachusetts economy during his governorship from 2007 to 2015, and under his leadership the state joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. By the end of Patrick’s tenure, Massachusetts was No. 8 in the country for solar power production, despite the New England state’s small size and long winters.

Ian Bowles, who was Patrick’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs from 2007 to 2011, told the Washington Post that the Patrick administration’s policies “really positioned Massachusetts as a leader on greenhouse gas reductions and on creation of clean energy jobs.”

At the Q-and-A style event at Michigan Law, Patrick spoke about what the country could be doing to address environmental concerns.

“When you consider a challenge as profound as climate change, it feels to me like we have to be doing a lot of different things simultaneously, and to try to get at the problem at a lot of different levels,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if some of the candidates on our side went to Eastern Kentucky or West Virginia and said, ‘The coal business has been in decline for a long time. How about we make this a hub for clean technology? How about we do wind blade and solar assembly here?’”

Critics like Collin Rees, a senior campaigner at Oil Change U.S., aren’t convinced, telling the Washington Post, “We don’t think he has any chance.”

The test may come soon, as activists are expected to press Patrick to sign a “No Fossil Fuel Money” pledge, which has already been signed by most of the top Democratic contenders.