Only 6 months into the marathon 2021-2022 legislative session, Massachusetts has already passed landmark climate legislation. Among other things, the Next Generation Climate Roadmap law updates the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to 50% reductions by 2030 and net zero by 2050, codifies definitions for “environmental justice population” and “environmental justice principles,” and allows the state to procure an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind. Crucially, the legislation also updates the mandate for the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), requiring the department to give equal weight to equity, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, security, and safety, in addition to its traditional focus on affordability and reliability. It also requires the development of sector-specific emissions targets, legislates the development of a new opt-in municipal stretch energy code, and sets energy efficiency standards for household appliances. Acadia Center played a key role in the enactment of this legislation, providing tireless advocacy and continuing to hold the legislature’s and Governor’s feet to the fire.
Despite this significant victory, Acadia Center’s work continues. In addition to the just and equitable implementation of the climate legislation, significant work remains to be done in the electric, transportation, and building sectors. To that end, Acadia Center is employing its policy expertise and coalition leadership, specifically with the ACES coalition, to prepare analysis and testimony for a host of bills that would rapidly electrify our transportation and building infrastructure and drastically cut emissions. Legislation that Acadia Center has drafted and filed (by Senator Joanne Comerford and Representative Natalie Blais) would create a stakeholder council like the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council to guide grid modernization and the transition away from natural gas (S.2144/H.3261) and eliminate the automatic ‘bonuses’ approved for electric utilities by the DPU in recent years (S.2143/H.3259). Acadia Center has also been deeply involved in the development of legislation that would implement the Transportation & Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) with a greater focus on environmental justice, directing at least 70% of TCI-P proceeds towards investments in communities that suffer disproportionately from transportation pollution or lack access to mobility options. Environmental justice legislation has been a particular focus for Acadia Center, and the organization is also promoting legislation that would expand air quality monitoring in pollution hotspots.
Acadia Center’s work goes far beyond just focusing on legislation as well. While legislative approval is not required in Massachusetts for the implementation of TCI-P, Acadia Center endeavors to ensure that the program is implemented with an eye toward environmental justice. The organization continues to lead on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Council, crafting detailed analysis and policy recommendations for the Commonwealth’s 2022-2024 three-year energy efficiency plan. Finally, Acadia Center is actively monitoring and participating in several dockets at the Department of Public Utilities that impact crucial questions facing the Commonwealth, such as the role of natural gas in its energy transition, and implementing modernization plans for the electric grid. We are also actively involved in the New England Governors’ Energy Vision process, led by Massachusetts, which is seeking to reform the governance of ISO-New England.