By Bob Katzen
The Senate 37-3 approved a bill that would expand the clean energy industry and reduce emissions from the transportation and building sectors across the state with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Provisions include providing creating a $100 million Clean Energy Investment Fund, $100 million to incentivize adoption of electric vehicles and $50 million to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations; requiring all new vehicles sold to produce zero emissions beginning in 2035; requiring the MBTA to purchase or lease only zero-emission buses starting in 2028 and to convert its entire fleet by 2040; increasing from $2,500 to $3,500 rebates for drivers who purchase electric vehicles; requiring the state to prepare a report on the estimated cost of converting school buses to zero-emission vehicles; and updating the procurement process for new offshore wind energy investments.
“We know climate change is relentless, so we think Massachusetts needs to be relentless, too,” said Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. “No one’s around to give out ‘A’s’ for effort. What matters are results. [The bill] pushes back against global warming on multiple fronts, and with an emphasis on innovation and smart experimentation. It’s about thinking long-range but executing now, in the short term. It’s about problem-solving, confidence and even optimism.”
“Clean energy policy must be as realistic as it is bold,” said Sen. Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “After over 12 hours of debate, the Massachusetts State Senate voted on a bill that was bold, but not realistic. Although well-intended, the final bill neglected undeniable realities for our economy, workforce and supply chain. My colleagues that voted no and I proposed a plan that would have boldly invested in a green future without putting too much strain on taxpayers, but this was rejected. That is why I voted against the final version of the bill.”
“The [bill] will help Massachusetts reach net-zero emissions by 2050 by paving the road to clean transportation, clean buildings and clean electric and thermal energy,” said Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton), chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “It is an impressive achievement, one that should give every resident of the commonwealth hope about our ability to mitigate climate change.”
“The bill as written significantly increases demand for electricity, without corresponding cost controls, increases in supply and transmission capacity, or support for conservation measures,” said Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “These factors could well combine to cause economic harm and hardship, unsustainability and failure to meet the significant carbon reduction requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act and its successors and related regulations.”
“Combatting climate change requires an honest assessment of the challenges before us, and constant work to change the course we are on,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “I’m proud to say that the Senate has never shied away from either and that we continue to lead on taking action to combat climate change.”
“Many states are trying to provide tax relief for consumers and small businesses due to the high cost of inflation and states having extra money from over taxation,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. The Massachusetts State Senate is taking another approach by passing a multifaceted climate bill which aims to restrict energy supplies and options for consumers while mandating costly alternatives. The Senate Democrats passed a climate bill which will eliminate popular and reliable gas- and -diesel powered vehicles, joining the likes of California. This ban will become a significant problem for Massachusetts motorists when their options are arbitrarily taken away from them due to this bill.”
The House has already approved a different version of the proposal and the Senate version now goes to the House for consideration. The bills will likely end up in a conference committee to hammer out a compromise version.