UPDATED: Massachusetts Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Legislation

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In full transparency, portions of the following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media. It was updated with more quotes at 7:13 a.m. on March 19.

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BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives and state Senate on Thursday passed nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.

“The Senate and House reaffirm today that this landmark climate legislation is too important to delay,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These measures will put our Commonwealth on a path to lowering harmful carbon emissions, add fuel to our growing green economy and improve the lives of those living in underserved communities. Now is the time to be proactive in how we approach our climate crisis and to protect our environment for future generations. I want to thank my legislative partner, House Speaker Mariano for his collaboration, Senator Barrett and Representatives Golden and Roy for their steadfast support, and the residents of Massachusetts for their unwavering support in advancing this legislation.”

“I am proud the House and the Senate have not backed down from our ambitious goals and unwavering commitment to make Massachusetts a leader in climate protection and clean energy,” said Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy). “There is no doubt this legislation will set Massachusetts on the right path and benefit generations to come. I thank Chairman Roy and Leader Golden for their work over the course of two sessions, and Senate President Spilka for her collaboration in getting this bill once again back to the Governor’s desk.”

The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.

“This bill is about getting down to brass tacks. It’s about getting the job done, one step at a time, starting now,” said Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “The pace of climate change is picking up—so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of Massachusetts is a force to be reckoned with.”

“We have a moral obligation to our children and one another to accelerate our transition to renewable energy, invest in green energy jobs, and prioritize environmental justice communities,” said Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis, who represents Ashland & Framingham.  “I am grateful to Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka, and so many of my colleagues, in refusing to allow Governor Baker to weaken this bill and harm our Commonwealth’s future.”

“This historic legislation will set Massachusetts on a path towards reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by establishing robust interim limits and providing key sectors of our economy with clear guidelines and goal posts for their decarbonization,” said Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin), Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “Each roadmap plan will tackle reducing emissions in a holistic manner, while also ensuring that environmental justice communities are included, and workers are not left behind by our transition to clean energy. I’m honored to have worked on getting this crucial climate bill to the finish line and thank Speaker Mariano and Leader Golden for their invaluable work and leadership on this bill.”

“We’re grateful to the legislative leadership for their persistent commitment to passing this piece of legislation for the 4th time,” said Rep. Maria Robinson, who represents Framingham.  “Each time we delay, we are further behind in fighting climate change. Our continued urgency is necessary in tackling this existential crisis.”

“History has been made today with the passage of the Next-Generation Roadmap bill,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell), former Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy “The Roadmap sets us on a strong course to net zero by 2050 and significantly advances offshore wind, truly representing the best ideas from both chambers.  Hats off to the House and the Senate for holding firm on ambitious emissions targets.  A special thank-you to Speaker Mariano for his tireless perseverance and vision in seeing this day become a reality.”

“With this bold transformational legislation Massachusetts takes the lead in our nation and the world in casting aside greenhouse gas polluting carbon fuels while embracing job producing, clean, green renewable energy development and distribution,” said Rep. Carmine Gentile. “History will mark our resolve today to meet the threat of global warming, and, I am confident, follow the Roadmap we have set out to do our part to successfully decarbonize and halt catastrophic climate change.”

“This bill offers us a comprehensive roadmap to move us away from fossil fuels and towards ensuring environmental justice,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton).  “The provisions of this bill represent a great step forward in our efforts to reduce harmful carbon emissions and it needs to become law now.” 

The passage of the climate bill comes after a joint commitment from Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano to quickly refile the legislation following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. Today, the House and Senate rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.

The final legislation:

  • Sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits every five years, as well as sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy.
  • Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
  • Establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
  • Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
  • Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities, to balance priorities going forward: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly,reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
  • Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.
  • Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave.
  • Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • A national first, this legislation factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of Massachusetts’ natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans.
  • Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities.
  • Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
  • Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
  • Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
  • Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050. 

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