Senate Passes Bill to Establish Climate Change Adaptation Management Action Plan

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133

Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 8, 2017

Senate Passes Bill to Establish Climate Change Adaptation Management Action Plan 

(Boston)—The Massachusetts State Senate passed S.2196, a bill to establish a comprehensive adaptation management action plan in response to climate change.

S.2196 is a redraft of S.472, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), founding chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. This is the fifth time such a plan has been passed by the body: first in July 2014; then July 2015; followed by January 2016; and as part of the Energy Diversity bill in June 2016.

“In the wake of several extreme weather events, the Commonwealth must proactively prepare and plan for climate change,” stated Senator Joan Lovely. This bill positions Massachusetts as a leader on this issue and ensures that we confront the effects of climate change with purpose and the seriousness this issue warrants.”

“If gone unchecked, severe weather will wreak immense havoc on Massachusetts,” Senator Pacheco said. “An adaptation plan must be codified in statute to protect our economy, public health and built and natural infrastructures. We can make our communities more resilient to the harmful effects of climate change by using our unique system of federalism to forge our own paths and organize for survival. This is the fifth time the Senate has sent resiliency legislation to the House, and it is high time that these protections make their way to the Governor’s desk.”

A comprehensive adaptation management action plan (CAMP) would be established through a collaboration led by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security. The plan would codify for the Baker Administration and all future administrations the goals, priorities and principles for resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration and enhancement of the Commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure, based on data around existing and projected climate change impacts including temperature changes, drought, inland flooding and sea level rise. The plan would go into effect in 2018 with an update every five years.

“The recent historically damaging and powerful hurricanes have put climate change at the forefront of international issues,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “We believe it is essential for us to act right now, at least on the key issues of adapting to the potential change, being ready for them and reducing emissions. Senator Pacheco’s bill once again puts Massachusetts in a leadership role on a critical issue. If we don’t plan and adapt for climate change now, we will pay dearly down the road, both in terms of potential harm to our residents and in dollars we will have to spend. This bill creates a proactive, long-term strategy to deal with the realities of our changing climate.”

“Merely reacting to climate change is not cost-effective, and it can have many advance consequences,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Having a dynamic and response plan can maximize the potential for success in addressing the impacts we must face on this front.”

Through the legislation, a comprehensive adaptation management action plan advisory commission would be established through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The committee would be charged with producing a report that documents the preparedness and vulnerabilities in the Commonwealth’s emergency response, energy, transportation, communications, health and other systems. The group would also put forth a proposal that establishes and commits to sound management practices while compiling data on existing and projected sea-level rise using the best available science.

“We thank the Senate and its leaders, Senate President Pro Tempore Marc Pacheco and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, for their continued leadership on acknowledging the impacts of climate change on the Commonwealth by passing this bill today,” said Jack Clarke, director of public policy for Mass Audubon. “Today’s Senate passage is all the more important in light of the denial of climate change science in our nation’s capital. Whether it’s a bigger-than-usual nor’easter, a heat-infused hurricane or just plain weather on steroids, it’s time for Massachusetts to plan for what was previously the unexpected and manage what is now the unavoidable by passing the climate change adaptation bill in the House and laying it before the Governor for his signature. If there was ever a time for Beacon Hill lawmakers to act, it is now.”

The legislation also establishes a regional, comprehensive climate change adaptation management plan grant program to aid in the development of regional adaptation plans. The program consists of financial assistance to municipalities for the development and implementation of comprehensive cost-effective adaptation management plans; technical planning guidance for adaptive municipalities through climate vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategy development; and development of a definition of impacts by supporting municipalities conducting climate vulnerability assessments. The grants shall be used to advance efforts to adapt land use, zoning, infrastructure, policies and programs to reduce the vulnerability of the built and natural environment to changing environmental conditions that are a result of climate change. The secretary of energy and environmental affairs shall also develop and implement an outreach and education program about climate change and its effects in low-income and urban areas.

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our environment, our air quality and public health,” said Jeff Seyler, executive vice president, northeast region of the American Lung Association. “As proposed cuts in Washington threaten national progress, it’s more important than ever that states take up the mantle of climate change and pursue innovative policies to protect our residents. While the effects of climate change do not abide by state boundaries, collective efforts at the state level can make a real difference for local and regional populations.  We applaud Senator Pacheco for his leadership on this issue and commend the Senate for taking action. We hope to see this proposal become law.”

The bill also creates a coastal buy-back program authorizing the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to acquire, by voluntary purchase, property abutting areas subject to tides or barrier beaches or located in velocity zones of flood plain areas that contain structures repeatedly damaged by severe weather. Prior to the acquisition of land under this section, the executive office shall, after consultation with the municipality in which the land is located, develop a conservation and recreation management plan and a coastal erosion mitigation and management plan.

“The CAMP legislation will help ensure the Commonwealth’s resilience to the social, economic and environmental impacts of climate change,” said Steve Long, director of government relations at the Natural Conservancy in Massachusetts. “We greatly appreciate the Senate’s leadership and look forward to collaborating with House.”

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“I want to thank Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senator Ann Gobi, who is Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Senator Karen Spilka, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and countless members in this body that share the passion and commitment we need to embrace a clean energy future.” Sen. Pacheco said. “I am pleased with some of the recent climate leadership in the House, and I look forward to working with them in seeing this legislation make its way to the Governor’s desk.”

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