The following is a press release.
FRAMINGHAM – The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed H.4912 An Act creating a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth, a top House Progressive Caucus priority this session.
Sponsored by caucus-member Representative Joan Meschino (Hull), the bill updates the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal to net zero by 2050 with interim targets and establishes comprehensive and iterative planning mechanisms to help the Commonwealth achieve that goal.
“The science is clear: to avoid the devastation of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to net zero by 2050. This goal will only be met by a comprehensive planning process, which locks in key milestones now to get us there in 30 years. I filed the 2050 Roadmap Bill to help us achieve that objective,” said Representative Meschino. “Today, I am excited to announce that my colleagues and I in the Massachusetts House of Representatives came together and passed a roadmap for a clean and thriving
Commonwealth with overwhelming support.”
H.4912 presents critical updates to the Global Warming Solutions Act, Massachusetts’ framework for climate mitigation planning, based on over a decade of experience with its implementation. The Global Warming Solutions Act, passed by the legislature in 2008, originally set Massachusetts on a course to reach an 80% reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2050.
In addition to updating the 2050 emissions reduction limit to net zero, the bill requires at least a 50% ecrease from 1990 levels by 2030, and a 75% reduction by 2040.
It tasks the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs with conducting a backcast analysis of pathways to net zero, with environmental justice considerations. This analysis would serve as the basis for a 2050 emissions reduction roadmap plan, to outline policies, regulations, and legislative recommendations for all categories of emissions reductions in Massachusetts, and which will require updates every 5 years to adapt to evolving science and technology.
“We must never forget that our children and other young people are already experiencing the disastrous effects of climate change, and that they aren’t tomorrow’s leaders, but leaders today in a broken world that is already negatively affecting their quality of life,” said Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Representative Jack Patrick Lewis (Framingham). “These young leaders know that we as a species have made our planet sick, and that Band-Aids and well wishes in place of bold climate action will only guarantee our planet’s terminal
In seeking to promote the state’s transition to net zero emissions as an opportunity for advancing both economic development and equity, the legislation establishes a clean energy equity workforce and market development program, appropriating $12 million annually to provide workforce training, educational and professional development, job placement, startup opportunities and grants promoting participation in the commonwealth’s energy efficiency and clean energy industries for minority- and women-owned small
business, residents of environmental justice communities, and workers displaced from fossil fuel industry.
The bill also creates a Municipal Light Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard, establishing emissions reductions goals for MLPs in line with the rest of the state, updates our solar net metering program to maximize use, and establishes a Future Utility Grid Commission to make recommendations about grid modernization.
The bill was further amended to include an acceleration of our Renewable Portfolio Standard, an increase in the state’s offshore wind procurement, and updates to our energy efficiency standards.
Finally, the bill incorporates a series of environmental justice protections for communities most directly impacted by pollution and environmental degradation, including provisions reducing barriers to low-income participation in future solar programs and a program promoting weatherization and electrification in affordable housing units.
Added through an amendment led by Progressive Caucus-members Adrian Madaro (Boston) and Michelle Dubois (Brockton), the final bill also codifies environmental justice in our state laws for the first time, requiring greater attention to the possible public health impacts of proposed projects and increased community access to information about project proposals through translation and public meeting times that work for community residents.
“For years, our most disadvantaged communities have had to bear a disproportionate burden of our state’s pollution. Tonight, we took the first step to change that,” said Representative Madaro. “I was proud to see our Environmental Justice amendment pass the House with a unanimous vote. This legislation will amplify the voices of our communities by codifying environmental justice into law for the first time in Massachusetts history and defining environmental justice communities to allow for real change.”
“With this Environmental Justice amendment Massachusetts is taking a visible stand to show low-income white, brown and black communities like mine that we hear you and care about your child with asthma and your aunt with COPD or lung cancer,” said Representative Dubois.
“The Commonwealth needs a plan to get to net-zero by 2050, and this bill gets us moving in that direction. I was especially pleased to vote in favor of significant environmental justice measures that will support many neighborhoods in Framingham,” said Representative Maria Robinson (Framingham). “This was a terrific first step in combating climate change, and I look forward to passing more legislation in the days ahead.”
“This legislation boldly moves Massachusetts forward towards the abolition of carbon pollution in our Commonwealth and signals a new day of empowerment for economically deprived municipalities and communities of color,” said Representative Carmine Gentile (Sudbury). “Finally, we can confidently view a future where our transportation, housing, and businesses will be powered by clean renewable energy sources and substantial reliance on greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels will be extinguished.”
The House Progressive Caucus is made up of 61 members from across the state. The other caucus priorities for this session are H.3573, An Act to Protect the Civil Rights and Safety of All Massachusetts Residents (AKA the Safe Communities Act), sponsored by caucus-members Ruth Balser and Liz Miranda, and H.3320, An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women’s reproductive health (AKA the ROE Act), sponsored by caucus-member Jay Livingstone and Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad.
Photo courtesy of NASA