Massachusetts Democrats endorsed seven bills pending in the State Legislature to combat climate change at their annual convention this month in Springfield. The push for state-level legislation collectively titled “Green New Deal for Massachusetts Now” comes amidst recent reports of an acceleration in the rate of glacial melting in Greenland, upward revision of projected sea level rise, and continued inaction by the Trump administration in the face of a growing climate crisis.
The seven bills, H832, H778, H2810, S1924, H2872, S1927, and H3629 sponsored by Rep. Meschino of Hull, Rep. Fernandes of Falmouth, Rep. Benson of Lunenburg, Sen. Barrett of Third Middlesex, Rep. Hecht of Watertown and Rep. Barber of Somerville, Sen. Boncore of First Suffolk and Middlesex, and Rep. Golden of Lowell respectively call for a multi-tiered approach to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 50% by 2030 and to attain carbon neutrality in the Commonwealth by 2050. The key elements include a new state regulatory framework for monitoring and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, carbon pricing applied to fossil fuel use combined with taxpayer rebates, electric buses and commercial fleets, and $5000 rebates for hybrid/electric vehicle purchases.
The proposed carbon dioxide regulations would begin in 2022 following an assessment of all available carbon dioxide-reducing technologies and carbon-free sources of energy. “Through comprehensive, people-centered planning, the 2050 Roadmap provides a legislative framework to advance the Commonwealth’s climate goals, which will build on the existing green economy, improve public health outcomes, and empower vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth,” said state Rep. Joan Meschino, “It’s exciting to see local Democrats elevating important climate crisis mitigation legislation.”
The new regulations would be enforced by a market-based carbon price favoring green and renewable energy, phasing out fossil fuel use, and rewarding energy-saving taxpayers with regular tax rebates. “With the current administration in Washington undoing international climate agreements and rolling back environmental regulations, it is vital that states take up the mantle of leadership on addressing climate change. Massachusetts has led the nation on climate and energy policy before, and we can continue to do so by passing carbon pricing,” said state Rep. Jennifer Benson, sponsor of H.2810, An Act to Promote Green Infrastructure and Reduce Carbon Emissions. “The Massachusetts Democratic Party’s endorsement of H.2810 has added further momentum to this effort, and I look forward to continuing my advocacy for carbon pricing in the Legislature.”
“Climate change is relentless, and ‘putting a price on carbon’ is the single most effective thing a state government can do to fight it,” said state Sen. Mike Barrett, a longtime champion of carbon pricing. “We need to put Massachusetts state government at the forefront — right where our constituents want it to be.”
In parallel, Massachusetts would transition to electric buses and commercial fleets statewide while generous $5000 rebates would make hybrid/electric vehicle purchases more affordable to consumers. State Rep. Christine Barber sees transportation as a top carbon reduction priority, “People in Massachusetts know that we have climate crisis that demands immediate action, and I’m proud that Democrats stepped up to put forward this resolution to make meaningful changes. In particular, transportation is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases, and I appreciate the support for moving toward zero-emission vehicles over the next number of years.”
State Rep. Jonathan Hecht agrees, “We have the opportunity and the dire need to put transportation on the path to sustainability. This resolution and the legislation it promotes are key to making that happen.”
Somerville Democrats Councilor Katjana Ballantyne and Justin Klekota sponsored the convention resolution and envision action in Massachusetts catalyzing nationwide efforts to fight climate change, “Every person, who contacts their state legislators in support of these seven bills, brings us one step closer to passing them here and inspiring other states to follow suit. Massachusetts led the nation in providing universal health insurance, it led the nation in the fight for marriage equality, and now it’s time for Massachusetts to lead once again and pass the Green New Deal for Massachusetts No