COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
Senator Joan B. Lovely
2nd Essex District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 19, 2021
Massachusetts Legislature Passes Landmark Climate Legislation
BOSTON – The Massachusetts House of Representatives and state Senate on Thursday passed nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.
“The Senate and House reaffirm today that this landmark climate legislation is too important to delay,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These measures will put our Commonwealth on a path to lowering harmful carbon emissions, add fuel to our growing green economy and improve the lives of those living in underserved communities. Now is the time to be proactive in how we approach our climate crisis and to protect our environment for future generations. I want to thank my legislative partner, House Speaker Mariano for his collaboration, Senator Barrett and Representatives Golden and Roy for their steadfast support, and the residents of Massachusetts for their unwavering support in advancing this legislation.”
“I am gratified by the firm commitment that the Legislature has made to get Massachusetts to net zero energy by 2050,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “This major policy would not have happened without the strong advocacy of my North Shore constituents and their counterparts around the Commonwealth. This legislation represents an important, but not final step, in making the changes necessary to keep our planet safe for future generations.”
“This bill is about getting down to brass tacks. It’s about getting the job done, one step at a time, starting now,” said Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. “The pace of climate change is picking up—so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of Massachusetts is a force to be reckoned with.”
“This bill offers us a comprehensive roadmap to move us away from fossil fuels and towards ensuring environmental justice,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton). “The provisions of this bill represent a great step forward in our efforts to reduce harmful carbon emissions and it needs to become law now.”
The passage of the climate bill comes after a joint commitment from Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano to quickly refile the legislation following a gubernatorial veto last session. This session Governor Baker offered amendments to the bill, which have been considered by the Legislature. Today, the House and Senate rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of more technical amendments that improve the bill.
The final legislation:
- Sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and mandates emissions limits every five years, as well as sublimits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy.
- Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
- Establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
- Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
- Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the 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 appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
- Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.
- Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave.
- Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
- A national first, this legislation factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of Massachusetts’ natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans.
- Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities.
- Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
- Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
- 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 them offset their electricity use and save money.
- Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050.
The bill now returns to the Governor’s desk.