Senator Joan B. Lovely
State Senator
2nd Essex District


January 5, 2021

Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Change Bill

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday passed breakthrough climate legislation that overhauls the state’s climate laws, drives down greenhouse gas emissions, creates clean energy jobs, and protects environmental justice communities.

The bill, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (S.2995), sets a 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emissions limit, as well as statewide limits every five years; increases the requirements for offshore wind energy procurement bringing the statewide total to 5,600 megawatts; requires emission reduction goals for MassSave, the state’s energy efficiency program; and, for the first time, establishes the criteria in statute that define environmental justice populations. The legislation also increases support for clean energy workforce development programs including those targeting low-income communities and improves gas pipeline safety.

“This legislation takes a historic step in the fight against climate change, putting Massachusetts on the path to creating a cleaner, greener and healthier future for the next generation,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I am thrilled to see this legislation codifies our shared goal of reducing harmful carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and creates new energy initiatives and standards to help us reach that target. I want to thank Senator Barrett, Representative Golden and their fellow conferees for their advocacy and hard work, as well as Speaker Mariano and former Speaker DeLeo for their partnership in seeing this bill through to fruition. I’d also like to note how much the Senate has been inspired to action by the energy and determination demonstrated by the young people of this Commonwealth. Your commitment to protecting our planet is inspiring and I welcome your continued collaboration as we move forward together in addressing our climate crisis.”

“I am proud that the Senate and House of Representatives passed a comprehensive climate change bill to get Massachusetts to net zero by 2050 with energy-restriction targets along the way,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “Thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka and Assistant Majority Leader Mike Barrett for their leadership in advancing this legislation, and to so many North Shore constituents of all ages for encouraging me to prioritize major environmental legislation to benefit future generations and protect our planet.”

“This bill steps up the pace of our collective drive to contain climate change,” said Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy.  “It’s the strongest effort of its kind in the country.  With the tools the Legislature assembles here, we’re constructing the response we need and providing a blueprint to other states.”

The legislation 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 state’s 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 improves 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. 
  • 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.