June 8, 2022

MA Enacts New Climate Change Legislation

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On March 26th, 2021, Governor Baker signed a bipartisan climate bill that spells out Massachusetts’ commitment to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050:

“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.

The legislation  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% for 2030, and no less than 75% 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.

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.

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 new law also 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.” - Office of Governor Charlier Baker

The Green Engineer is excited to see that our efforts to advocate for this bill, together with that of so many other members of the green building community, have come to such a successful conclusion.

Read the Commonwealth’s full press release.


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