Measure seeks jobs, reduced emissions, environmental justice
The Arlington legislative delegation joined its colleagues in passing legislation that overhauls the state’s climate laws, aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, hopes to create clean-energy jobs and strives to promote environmental justice in communities.
Voting to back the measure were Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Sean Garballey (D-Arlington).
“I am pleased that the Massachusetts Legislature took this major step forward and solidified its commitment to protecting our environment,” Friedman said in a Jan. 11 news release. “I am particularly proud that this legislation includes language I fought for during the Senate amendment process that would achieve emissions reductions equitably and in a manner that protects low- and moderate-income persons and environmental-justice populations when the state is developing regulations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in our communities.
Rogers said in the release: “One of the greatest challenges of our time — if not the greatest — is addressing climate change.”
For the third legislative session in a row, the Legislature has passed major legislation, putting us on a path to “net zero” emissions by 2050.
“The new law will spur renewable-energy production and contains a critical environmental-justice component, thereby protecting vulnerable communities from disproportionate environmental harms,” he said. “An amendment I introduced made it into the final bill, ensuring a full and accurate accounting of CO2 emissions from all sources, including landfills. All in all, the bill now before the Governor for signature is a major breakthrough.”
Garballey added: “I am honored to join my colleagues in the House and Senate to pass bold climate policy. With over 100 legislators supporting my 100-percent Renewable Energy bill, I have been proud to champion this language, and to achieve success in increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 percent each year from 2025-2029, resulting in 40 percent renewable energy by 2030.
“It has been a great honor being included in the effort to codify environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts General Law. In addition, it is very pleasing to see a requirement for an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, and increasing the total to 5,600 megawatts in Massachusetts.”
The bill, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (S.2995), includes, among other items, the following provisions:
- Sets a statewide net zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits every five years, as well as limits for specific sectors of the economy, including transportation and buildings;
- Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods;
- Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, building on previous legislation action and increases the total to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth;
- Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), regulator of the states electric and natural gas utilities, to balance priorities going forward: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions;
- Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliance including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances;
- Adopts several measures aimed at improved gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations and regulations related to training and certifying utility contractors;
- Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 percent each year from 2025 – 2029, resulting in 40 percent renewable energy by 2030;
- Establishes an opt-in municipal net zero energy stretch code, including a definition of “net zero building;”
- Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities;
- Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in order to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations and minority-owned and women-owned businesses;
- Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help offset their electricity use and save money;
- Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave;
- Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030 and “net zero” by 2050; and
- Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
The bill is now with the governor.
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This news announcement was published Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
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