Governor Signs Climate Legislation with Goal of Achieveing Net Zero Emissions by 2050

Gov. Charles Baker on Friday signed comprehensive climate change legislation that codifies into law the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050 and furthers the Commonwealth’s nation leading efforts to combat climate change and protect vulnerable communities. The new law, Senate Bill 9 – An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, establishes new interim goals for emissions reductions, significantly increases protections for Environmental Justice communities across Massachusetts, authorizes the Administration to implement a new, voluntary energy efficient building code for municipalities, and allows the Commonwealth to procure an additional 2,400 Megawatts (MW) of clean, reliable offshore wind energy by 2027. Building upon the framework established in the Administration’s 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap and Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030, the bipartisan bill allows the Commonwealth to pursue ambitious emissions reduction goals in a cost-effective and equitable manner while creating jobs and opportunities for economic development throughout Massachusetts.

“Climate change is an urgent challenge that requires action, and this legislation will reduce emissions in Massachusetts for decades to come while also ensuring the Commonwealth remains economically competitive,” said Gov. Baker. “We are proud to have worked closely with the Legislature to produce bipartisan legislation that will advance clean energy sources and secure a healthy, livable environment for future generations.”

The legislation signed by Gov. Baker updates the greenhouse gas emissions limits related to the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, commits Massachusetts to achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050, and authorizes the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to establish an emissions limit of no less than 50 percent for 2030, and no less than 75 percent for 2040. The legislation also authorizes EEA to establish emissions limits every five years and sublimits for at least six sectors of the Massachusetts economy – electric power; transportation; commercial and industrial heating and cooling; residential heating and cooling; industrial processes; and natural gas distribution and service.

Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on Environmental Justice communities overburdened by poor air quality and disproportionately high levels of pollution, the legislation statutorily defines Environmental Justice and environmental burdens, including climate change as an environmental burden. The legislation also expands Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review to require an Environmental Impact Report for all projects that impact air quality within one mile of an Environmental Justice Neighborhood, and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects. This change would, for the first time, require the agency to evaluate not just individual project impacts but also historic environmental pollution throughout the community through the permit process.

The legislation authorizes the Commonwealth to procure an additional 2,400 MW of offshore wind power, bringing the state’s total required authorization to 4,000 MW by 2027. Earlier this year, the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) filed the third offshore wind power Request for Proposals (RFP) with the Department of Public Utilities for review and approval. The RFP solicits project proposals of up to 1,600 MW of offshore wind power and includes important new provisions related to diversity, inclusion, economic development, and environmental justice.

In a move that will continue to advance the Commonwealth’s nation-leading energy efficiency programs, the legislation establishes new energy efficiency requirements for commercial kitchen equip-ment, plumbing, lighting, computers and computer monitors, electric vehicle supply equipment and consumer appliances including faucets, residential ventilating fans, portable electric spas, showerheads, toilets, and water coolers. A key component of the Administration’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan, the legislation authorizes DOER to establish by 2023 a highly efficient stretch energy code for newly constructed buildings that municipalities may adopt.

The legislation expands the Baker-PolitoAdministra-tion’s commitment to take aggressive action on cli-mate change and achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050. On Dec. 30, 2020, the Administration released two reports – the Massachusetts 2050 Decarboniza-tion Roadmap Report and an interim 2030 Clean En-ergy and Climate Plan (CECP) – that detail policies and strategies to equitably and cost-effectively re-duce emissions and combat climate change. The 2050 Roadmap found that, with careful attention to the strategies it selects, the Commonwealth can achieve Net Zero emissions in 2050 affordably while maintaining a thriving economy. The Roadmap also found that achieving Net Zero emissions will deliver significant benefits to residents across the Common-wealth, including a precipitous drop in air pollution, particularly in environmental justice communities cur-rently overburdened with poor air quality; health cost savings of up to $100 million per year by 2030; and the creation of thousands of high-quality local jobs.

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