In early January, the Massachusetts legislature overwhelmingly passed a landmark update to the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act through Bill S.2995, “An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.” Many of the provisions have been championed by Acadia Center and we are encouraged by its breadth and specificity. Bill S.2995 represents meaningful progress in addressing the Commonwealth’s contributions to climate change, codifying the Governor’s commitment to a net-zero future, delivering effective environmental justice strategies, and moving critical sector-specific initiatives forward. It will help increase overall demand for clean energy and support the growing clean energy economy.
Governor Baker employed the pocket veto on January 14th. The timing of the bill passage and the veto as one legislative session concluded and another began made it impossible for the legislature to override the Governor’s veto. Demonstrating resolve and commitment to the overwhelming support for the landmark bill, House and Senate leadership refiled an identical bill, S.9, which is expected to come to a vote in the next week or so, and again pass quickly with veto-proof margins.
Significant provisions of the legislation include:
- “Comprehensive, clear and specific” plans for achieving statewide emissions limits now set every five years (rather than ten) leading to: 50% reductions from 1990 levels in 2030, 75% in 2040, and net-zero emissions by 2050.
- New tools and protections for environmental justice populations, and plans to improve or mitigate economic, environmental, and public health impacts for these populations.
- Mandates for emissions sub-limits for six priority sectors of the economy: transportation; electric power; residential heating and cooling; natural gas distribution and services; and natural and working lands, an idea catalyzed by Acadia Center.
- A requirement also endorsed by Acadia Center: The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) must consider equity and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as equal priorities to reliability, safety, and affordability. This is essential to empowering the DPU to act in alignment with the state’s climate goals.
- Boosting the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard by 3% each year, ensuring that at least 40% of the state’s electric power will be renewable by 2030.
- An increase to the standard for greenhouse gas emissions for municipal lighting plants for the first time, requiring 50% non-emitting electricity by 2030 and “net zero” emissions by 2050.
- An expansion of previous targets that increases the state’s total offshore wind authorization to 5.6 gigawatts (GW).
- A local option mandates – “net zero stretch energy code” – which would allow towns to ban the use of fossil fuels in new buildings.
- The adoption of appliance efficiency standards in line with California; this may enable Massachusetts to take back the top spot in the rankings of American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
- A requirement that energy efficiency plans achieve a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal and include the value of GHG reductions in cost-effectiveness calculations – two reforms at the heart of Acadia Center’s Next Generation Energy Efficiency strategy.
As one of the co-chairs of the ACES coalition, Acadia Center worked to pull together over 20 clean energy businesses and advocacy organizations to sign on to a letter urging Governor Baker to sign the bill and empower Massachusetts to address the climate crisis.
The climate roadmap envisioned in the newly filed S.9 will put into law the commitments made by the Baker Administration’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030 and beyond, setting our Massachusetts on a path to reach net-zero emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As well, Bill S.9 includes vitally important provisions ensuring that front line communities and low-wage workers will benefit from the Commonwealth’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Acadia Center strongly support S.9 and greatly appreciates the resolve of House Speaker Mariano, Senate President, Representative Golden and Senator Mike Barrett for quickly reintroducing the legislation. Acadia Center looks forward to swift passage of this important climate legislation, and urges Governor Baker to enact without changes it so that all the state’s residents can benefit from a healthier, safer future.