CLIMATE CHANGE (S 9) BILL

By Bob Katzen

The House 145-14, Senate 39-1, approved and sent to Gov. Charlie Baker a lengthy climate change bill. A key section makes the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal net zero by 2050.

The House and Senate both voted to adopt many of the amendments that Gov. Baker proposed to the original measure approved by the Legislature in February.

Other provisions in the measure codify environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law by defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods; provide $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations and minority-owned and women-owned businesses; require an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind and increase the state’s total authorization to 5,600 megawatts; set appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers and commercial appliances and set benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage and heat pumps.

“History has been made today with the passage of the Next-Generation Roadmap bill,” said Rep. Tom Golden (D-Lowell). “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.”

“Massachusetts leads the nation in reducing carbon emissions, of which there are some measures that I have supported,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman who was the only senator who voted against the measure. “However, this legislation, often described as ‘far reaching’ by the media and economic experts, will ensure the costs of building homes and commercial economic development dramatically increase, making us the most expensive state in the nation to live and do business. In this time of economic recovery from COVID-19, this is not only inadvisable, it is detrimental to the long-term interests of keeping Massachusetts affordable and prosperous.”

“Today, the Legislature will take an important step toward a cleaner, healthier future by putting the climate bill back on the governor’s desk,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “I applaud House and Senate leaders for preserving the key elements of last session’s bill, including energy efficiency standards for appliances, expanded offshore wind procurements, and a requirement for at least 40 percent of Massachusetts’ electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030. If Gov. Baker vetoes the bill, I hope legislators move quickly to override the veto and turn this bill into a law.”

A new study by the Beacon Hill Institute says that legislation calling for a net-zero emissions policy by 2050 is flawed and unrealistic. “In this study, we conclude that this legislation is misconceived,” said co-author David Tuerck, president of the institute. “The ‘absolute zero’ approach embodied in the legislation would be economically ruinous. It would increase costs to the average Massachusetts household to unacceptable levels. If the commonwealth sought to reduce emissions by 100 percent, the price of a gallon of gasoline would have to rise above $14.10.”

“The Next-Generation Climate Roadmap Act reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state,” tweeted Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington).

“There is little doubt the legislation that passed today, if it becomes law, will cost taxpayers and businesses greatly in the future,” said Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney. “The only questions that remain are just how much it will cost them and how ordinary, working-class families will be able to pay for it moving forward. Today’s legislation puts ideology ahead of common sense. It asks nearly every resident to make economic sacrifices in order to achieve unrealistic and ideologically driven climate goals.”

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