BOSTON– Representative Christine P. Barber of Somerville and Medford recently voted to pass An Act creating a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving commonwealth. This bill, a priority of the House Progressive Caucus, establishes comprehensive planning mechanisms to help Massachusetts achieve bold greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. This bill was also part of the Green New Deal for MA resolution, of which Rep. Barber was one of the lead sponsors.
H4912 makes critical updates to the Global Warming Solutions Act, MA’s framework for climate mitigation. These updates put the state on a path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 by creating aggressive interim targets. The bill also requires at least a 50% decrease from 1990 emissions levels by 2030, and a 75% reduction by 2040.
The legislation also establishes a clean energy equity workforce and market development program, which will appropriate $12 million annually for workforce training, educational and professional development, job placement, startup opportunities, and grants. These opportunities will go directly to minority- and women-owned small businesses, environmental justice communities, and workers who have been displaced from the fossil fuel industry.
The bill was strengthened through the amendment process to produce a comprehensive environmental bill. Rep. Barber voted for an amendment that was adopted to codify environmental justice for the first time in state law, to ensure action to support communities most harmed by climate change and inequality. These policies create stronger project reviews, allow greater input on possible projects in EJ neighborhoods, and make the process more accessible and inclusive.
The bill creates further protections for environmental justice communities, including reducing barriers to low-income participation in solar programs and programs promoting weatherization and electrification in affordable housing units.
Rep. Barber authored amendments to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure to ensure equity and greater access. Her amendment requiring the Department of Energy Resources to assist cities and towns to develop curbside EV charging if off-street options are not feasible was adopted. Rep. Barber also supported amendments to increase offshore wind, ensure speedy gas leak repair and shifting away from natural gas infrastructure, and putting the state on a path to achieve 100% renewable energy.
“As a leader in addressing climate change, I was proud to vote to pass this bill, and to support amendments to make stronger policies to get our state to zero greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. Barber. “This bill is transformative–it lays out the path and provides us with the tools to reach our
aggressive and much-needed, climate goals. I look forward to continuing to advocate for similarly bold strategies that prioritize environmental justice communities.”
The bill is currently before a Conference Committee to iron out differences between the House and Senate climate bills before passing a final bill.