Moving Massachusetts Into a Clean Energy Future

MA legislators can still make progress on clean energy

Recently, Massachusetts senators announced An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future, perhaps the most ambitious and comprehensive piece of climate legislation since the passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) and its companion Green Communities Act a decade ago.

It is a welcome and much-needed step forward, representing a strong understanding on Beacon Hill that we can’t wait any longer to begin the evolution of our energy system the GWSA requires. Only a real transformation away from fossil fuels can meet Massachusetts’s triple-goal of combatting climate change, growing real jobs, and making Massachusetts a healthier, more affordable place to live, raise our families, and run a business.

A Clean Energy Roadmap for Massachusetts

Introduced by the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change (chaired by Senator Marc Pacheco), the proposed legislation is designed to continue the Commonwealth’s nation-leading progress towards a clean, affordable low-carbon future.

The bill proposes immediate action on a broad range of climate issues, from fixing leaky gas pipes to boosting solar power (more on those below). But its most powerful provision would require the State to create – for the first time – a comprehensive clean energy roadmap for reaching the GWSA’s low-carbon mandate.

While the GWSA charges the Commonwealth with cutting carbon pollution 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, it doesn’t mandate how we get there. That might have made sense ten years ago when the GWSA was first passed, but now we need more. So last year, CLF worked with legislators to propose the Global Warming Solutions Implementation Act (now section 67 of the omnibus bill), which would require Massachusetts to develop a comprehensive and detailed clean energy roadmap and then set specific carbon-reduction goals for 2030 and 2040 designed to keep us on-track through 2050.

But planning alone isn’t enough, which is why this bill would require the state to take enforceable action, and fast, to issue comprehensive new regulations for all types of carbon pollution. And importantly, the bill would require that key climate policies, particularly regarding transportation and buildings, must be designed equitably – that is, with the participation of, and with protections for, those living in low-income and environmental justice communities.

It’s Time for Bold Action

Climate change poses a clear and present danger to us all – to our homes and families, to our health, and to our ability to make a living. The Senate’s Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future recognizes that reality. This is why, in addition to a clean energy roadmap and new suite of comprehensive regulations, the bill also requires a broad range of important immediate action, including:

  • Calling for more on- and offshore wind energy to help us end our dependence on fossil fuels more quickly.
  • Boosting the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements, ensuring that Massachusetts buys more clean energy each year.
  • Eliminating harmful caps on solar net metering, so more families can benefit from solar power by installing solar panels and selling their excess energy back to the electricity grid for the rest of us to use.
  • Ensuring everyone in the state has access to the benefits of solar power through community solar projects.
  • Requiring utilities to fix gas leaks while limiting the development of any new gas infrastructure to only what is absolutely needed.
  • Planning for local protection from the climate impacts, like flooding, we are already experiencing.
  • Divesting the state pension system from polluting fossil fuel companies.
  • Accelerating our adoption of clean-driving electric vehicles and cost-saving battery storage so that more people and businesses can trade in their gas guzzlers for efficient electric alternatives.

Through the end of the legislative session this summer, CLF will be working hard to get this bill, An Act to Promote a Clean Energy Future, signed into law. Please join us by contacting your elected officials – particularly your House Representative and Governor Baker – to show your support for a clean, healthy, and affordable future for everyone!

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.