Massachusetts’ Highest Court Rejects Public Subsidies for Fossil Fuels | Conservation Law Foundation

Massachusetts’ Highest Court Rejects Public Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

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Decision protects MA families from risky and unlawful gas pipelines

AUGUST 17, 2016 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to a favorable decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Conservation Law Foundation v. Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU). In its decision, the Court declares it unlawful for Massachusetts to force residential electricity customers to subsidize the construction of private gas pipelines, requiring the companies themselves to shoulder the substantial risks of such projects rather than allowing that risk to be placed on hardworking families across the Commonwealth.

“This is an incredibly important and timely decision,” said David Ismay, CLF’s lead attorney on the case. “Today our highest court affirmed Massachusetts’ commitment to an open energy future by rejecting the Baker Administration’s attempt to subsidize the dying fossil fuel industry. The course of our economy and our energy markets runs counter to the will of multi-billion dollar pipeline companies, and, thanks to today’s decision, the government will no longer be able to unfairly and unlawfully tip the scales.”

According to the opinion by Justice Cordy, DPU’s 2015 rule (“Order 15-37”) allowing Massachusetts electric customers to be charged for the construction of interstate gas pipelines is prohibited by the plain languages of statutes that have been the law of the land in Massachusetts for almost two decades.

In his opinion, Justice Cordy wrote, Order 15-37 is “invalid in light of the statutory language and purpose of G. L. c. 164, § 94A, as amended by the restructuring act, because, among other things, it would undermine the main objectives of the act and reexpose ratepayers to the types of financial risks from which the Legislature sought to protect them.”

CLF experts are available for further comment. Read today’s decision by the Supreme Judicial Court.


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