Reps. Stanley and Lawn Help Pass Climate Change Legislation Amid Pandemic
August 10, 2020 – BOSTON – As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve, Rep. Stanley and Rep. Lawn helped pass legislation building on the House’s continued commitment to address the effects of climate change by requiring the Commonwealth to achieve net-zero statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
For the first time, the legislation, An Act Creating a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth (H. 4933), establishes the criteria in statute that define environmental justice populations. The legislation also increases support for clean energy workforce development programs, improves access to renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for low-income communities, and requires the state to increase its use of renewable resources for its electricity needs.
“This comprehensive climate legislation puts the Commonwealth well on the way to not only doing that but also puts us on the path to a cleaner, safer state. The bill also includes historic environmental justice components, which will protect some of our most important communities from being neglected by harmful projects,” said Rep. Stanley.
“Despite the ongoing public health and economic hardships relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House is committed maintaining Massachusetts’ nation-leading clean energy and climate policies,” said Rep. Lawn.
The legislation builds on the House’s long-standing commitment to effective and lasting climate change policy and fulfills Speaker DeLeo’s and the House’s January pledge to pass 2050 greenhouse gas emissions net zero limits during the 2019 – 2020 legislative session.
said Rep. Lawn.
The legislation includes the following provisions.
• Sets a statewide net zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In addition, sets one of the most ambitious interim limits in the nation for 2030 and 2040 – at 50 percent below 1990 emissions levels and 75 percent below, respectively.
• Defines environmental justice populations as those that fit into one of following criteria:
o not more than 65 percent of the statewide annual median household income;
o minorities comprise 40 per cent or more of the population;
o 25 percent or more of households lack English language proficiency; or
o minorities comprise 25 percent or more of the population and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 percent of the statewide annual median household income.
• When affecting environmental justice populations, the legislation requires project developers to incorporate environmental and public health impacts in the planning and development of projects, and improves public participation in the review process.
• Prioritizes incentives that benefit and increase equitable access to low-income and underserved populations in the state’s solar and energy efficiency programs including weatherization and fuel assistance programs.
• Allocates additional funding for clean energy, equity workforce programs.
• Incorporates higher energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers and commercial appliances.
• Increases the required total procurement of offshore wind power by an additional 2,000 megawatts.
• Adopts several measures aimed at improve gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations and expedited timelines for repairing gas leaks.
• Increases the required minimum percentage of the state’s renewable energy via updates to the Commonwealth’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS).
The bill is now in conference committee.