Timilty Champions Landmark Climate Change Bill
BOSTON (01/04/2021) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) proudly joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate on Monday in passing breakthrough climate legislation that overhauls the Commonwealth’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), charts a steady course to net zero greenhouse gas limits by the year 2050. In addition, the bill recalibrates statewide emission limits every five years.
This historic legislation is a critical tool in Massachusetts’ fight against climate change,” said Timilty, Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “This major piece of climate legislation demonstrates that the Commonwealth is committed to a cleaner and greener future.”
“It is our responsibility to preserve and protect our environment from worsening climate impacts, for present and future generations alike,” Timilty said. “This landmark bill confirms Massachusetts’ place as a leader in climate policies.”
“This legislation takes a comprehensive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, it addresses the utilization of natural resources in this effort, such as reforestation efforts, as well as maintaining wetlands, grasslands, and coastal ecosystems. These ecosystems possess a natural ability to store carbons and enhance the public health of our communities,” said Timilty.
Moreover, this legislation increases the requirements for offshore wind-energy procurement elevating the level of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to 5,600 megawatts. Furthermore, it requires emission reduction goals for MassSave, the Commonwealth’s energy-efficiency program. Additionally, for the first time, this legislation codifies the criteria that defines environmental justice populations. Also, this legislation augments support for clean energy workforce development programs, including those targeting economically disadvantaged communities.
This legislation includes the following key provisions:
- Sets a statewide net zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, mandating emissions limits every five years. Moreover, it establishes limits for specific sectors of the economy, including transportation and buildings.
- Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts General Law, defining environmental justice populations, providing new tools, and protections for affected neighborhoods.
- Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, building on previous legislative action and increasing the total offshore wind to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
- Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to balance systemwide safety and security. In addition, DPU is directed to reduce, significantly, greenhouse gas emissions.
- Sets appliance energy-efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances.
- Adopts several measures with the express purpose of enhancing natural gas pipeline safety. These initiatives include increased fines for safety violations, as well as, training and certifying utility contractors.
- Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs for economically disadvantaged communities
- Appropriates $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center creating a pathway to the clean-energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses.
- Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap. This will provide businesses with an opportunity to install solar systems on their premises, offsetting their electricity use through financial savings.
- 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 power plants, mandating that they purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030. Additionally, gas emissions released are to be balanced by an equal amount being taken out of the atmosphere, or “net zero,” by 2050.
- Establishes benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps, and anaerobic digestors.
The bill now moves to the governor for his signature.