CLIMATE CHANGE

By Bob Katzen

Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a climate change bill. A key section makes the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal net zero by 2050. The reduction would be phased in so that the emissions limit would be at least 50 percent for 2030, and no less than 75 percent for 2040.

The measure also authorizes the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish emissions limits every five years and sublimits for at least six sectors of the Massachusetts economy – electric power; transportation; commercial and industrial heating and cooling; residential heating and cooling; industrial processes; and natural gas distribution and service.

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.

“Climate change is an urgent challenge that requires action, and this legislation will reduce emissions in Massachusetts for decades to come while also ensuring the commonwealth remains economically competitive,” said Baker. “We are proud to have worked closely with the Legislature to produce bipartisan legislation that will advance clean energy sources and secure a healthy, livable environment for future generations.”

“The signing into law of the Next-Generation Roadmap Bill marks a historic moment for the commonwealth,” said Rep. Tom Golden (D-Lowell), former House Chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “… We have aggressively expanded offshore wind and codified protections for environmental justice communities into law. This legislation is the product of countless hours of hard work by both my colleagues in the House and in the Senate and is a reflection of the priorities of both chambers.”

“There is no doubt we must protect our environment however I cannot support legislation that drastically increases the cost of living and doing business in Massachusetts like the climate change bill,” said Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica). “Even independent experts such as the Beacon Hill Institute has determined that in order to achieve the arbitrary goals of the legislation, a gallon of gasoline will have to increase by $14 There is no way I can ever support that.”

“Once again, Massachusetts is demonstrating to the nation that monumental, bipartisan climate legislation can be enacted,” said Environmental League of Massachusetts President Elizabeth Turnbull Henry. “This law will set the commonwealth on a course for a cleaner, more equitable and more prosperous future. The bill builds on the governor’s commitment from early 2020 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 by codifying that goal into state law and solidifying our plans to achieve it in a way that drives equitable and sustainable growth.”

“The bill is costly and will put unrealistic economic demands on ordinary people for decades to come,” said Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney. Its intent is to change behavior so that more expensive appliances, buildings and energy are used to meet arbitrary climate goals … Only the very wealthy will be able to whether this storm.”

“This bill includes important provisions to make our appliances more efficient and increase the amount of electricity we get from renewable sources like the sun and the wind,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. “It’s Massachusetts’ first big step on climate action in 2021 — but it can’t be the last step.” Hellerstein said despite passage of this bill, a lot has been left on the table and legislators will need to take further action on climate this year. He said legislation to transition our electricity, buildings and transportation system to 100 percent clean energy is at the top of this year’s “to-do” list. “Let’s take a few minutes to celebrate this bill,” concluded Hellerstein. “And then, let’s make 2021 the year Massachusetts sets its sights on 100 percent clean energy.”

“Drawing from history, prohibition never works as planned,” said David Tuerck, president of the Beacon Hill Institute. “In this study, we conclude that this legislation is misconceived. The ‘absolute zero’ approach embodied in the legislation would be economically ruinous. It would increase costs to the average Massachusetts household to unacceptable levels.”

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