I’m excited to announce that the Senate has released a next generation climate policy package designed to advance and double down on our efforts to combat climate change in Massachusetts. The package consists of three pieces of legislation – An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy, An Act to Accelerate the Transition of Cars, Trucks and Buses to Carbon-Free Power, and An Act Relative to Energy Savings Efficiency – that would accomplish the following:
- Set a statewide greenhouse gas limit for the year 2050 of “net zero” emissions to keep Massachusetts in line with evidence-based scientific research;
- Establish a Massachusetts Climate Policy Commission, a watchdog for the public interest as all of us contend with global warming;
- Jumpstart efforts to bring low rates for solar electricity to low income communities;
- Allow forward-looking cities and towns to adopt a “net zero” stretch energy code; and
- Set a deadline for converting T buses to all-electric.
We must do everything we can to protect our environment and preserve healthy ecosystems that provide clean air and water, soil, nutrients and a food source for our residents. While the Trump administration fails to address – or even acknowledge – the threat of climate change, Massachusetts is taking real action to build a sustainable future for generations to come. It’s well beyond time to put our political opinions to the side, and simply do what’s right. This is not a political issue – this is a livelihood issue, and if we fail to act, we will continue to put our planet at serious risk. I’m proud that the Senate recognizes the urgency of this issue, and has proposed a plan for the future. I want to thank Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, and Senator Mike Barrett for their hard work and collaboration on this important initiative. For a more in-depth analysis of the climate action package, please continue scrolling to learn more.
I know that this issue is of particular interest to many of you, so I want to sincerely thank you all for your steadfast advocacy on climate issues throughout this legislative session. I’m excited and eager to debate and vote on this important measure this Thursday, January 30! You can join the conversation and follow our live debate by using the hashtag #NextGenCliMAte on Twitter.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office by phone at (617) 722-1432 or by email at Cindy.Friedman@masenate.gov.
Key provisions of the Senate’s climate action policy package include:
–Setting a statewide greenhouse gas limit for the year 2050 of “net zero” emissions. To achieve this, An Act Setting Next Generation Climate Policy requires the state to hit near-term limits in 2025, 2030, and every five years thereafter; set sub-limits for transportation, buildings, solid waste, natural gas distribution, and other major sectors; and make implementation plans that are “clear, comprehensive, and specific.”
–Establishing the Massachusetts Climate Policy Commission. The commission would be a new, independent public watchdog to oversee government’s handling of the unfolding crisis of climate change. Commissioners will be charged with offering a nonpartisan, science-based view of the problem as it plays out in Massachusetts with its attendant natural, economic, and demographic impacts and risks.
–Reflecting the price of carbon. Under the bill, the Administration would be free to choose among various market based forms of pricing carbon—including a revenue-neutral fee or a regional “cap and trade” system similar to the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI)—but he or she would have to do so by Jan. 1, 2022, for transportation; Jan. 1, 2025, for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings; and Jan. 1, 2030, for residential buildings. Any mechanism would be implemented in an effort to minimize the impact on low-income households, disadvantaged communities, and vulnerable manufacturing sectors.
–Providing legislative direction to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the state’s primary energy oversight agency, for the first time. Compensating for a decades-long omission, the bill assigns the DPU a mission statement. It requires the agency to balance five priorities: reliability of supply, affordability, public safety, physical and cyber security, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
–Jumpstarting efforts to supply low-cost solar electricity to low-income communities. To reverse the failure of state programs to incentivize solar energy projects in low-income neighborhoods, as well as spur job creation, the bill requires the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to set aside future solar allocations for such neighborhoods.
–Letting cities and towns adopt a “net zero” stretch energy code. The bill allows the state to support communities that choose on their own to move away from fossil fuels as the source of heating for new buildings. The state’s contribution is to promulgate a “net zero” energy code, so that localities have the option available if they want to use it. The bill shifts responsibility for the code’s development from the Board of Building Regulations and Standards to the DOER.
–Encouraging natural gas utilities to adapt. The bill authorizes utilities to test technology and pipelines that generate and transport “renewable thermal energy,” an emissions-free way to heat buildings that draws on the relative warmth of temperatures below ground.
–Strengthening executive branch oversight of MassSave. The bill directs the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to set emissions reduction goals, in advance, for each three-year plan the utilities formulate for MassSave. It requires the DPU, at the conclusion of each three-year plan, to certify how much the plan actually contributed to meeting the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emission limits.
–Tightening the alignment between MassSave and emissions limits. The bill requires electric utilities to include an explicit value for emissions reductions whenever they calculate the cost-effectiveness of a MassSave offering.
–Setting a deadline for converting MTBA buses to all-electric power. An Act to Accelerate the Transition of Cars, Trucks and Buses to Carbon-Free Power directs the MBTA to limit bus purchases and leases to zero-emissions vehicles beginning in 2030, and to aim for an all-zero-emissions fleet by 2040, to reduce transportation-related emissions in city neighborhoods.
–Offsetting the Trump Administration’s efforts to slow progress on efficient appliances. An Act Relative to Energy Savings Efficiency updates Massachusetts appliance standards to improve energy and water efficiency standards for common household and commercial appliances, helping to conserve energy and save consumers and businesses money.
Other provisions include:
–Assembling the state’s first-ever database of energy use in large buildings;
–Adding two building efficiency experts and an expert in advanced building technology to the membership of the Board of Building Regulations and Standards, which will retain responsibility for the base energy building code;
–Authorizing the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to fund energy innovation pilots, and to take actions addressing health effects associated with the distribution and consumption of fossil fuels such as natural gas;
–Directing the DPU to consider the impact on emissions when it reviews electric and natural gas rates, prices, charges, and contracts;
–Directing state government to limit purchases and leases of vehicles to zero emissions vehicles only, beginning in 2024, if affordable replacements are available;
–Conducting a study of the opportunities to electrify vehicles owned or leased by municipalities, regional school districts, and regional transit authorities, taking into account costs and possible sources of financial help from the state and federal government; and
–Providing permanent statutory authorization for the “MOR-EV” program, the Commonwealth’s system of financial incentives for purchasers of zero emission vehicles.