January 8th Roundup: Pressure Builds for Baker to Sign Climate Bill

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– On Wednesday (1/6) 19 new lawmakers were sworn in and the 192nd legislative session began.

– In end-of-session sprint, state legislators pass ‘landmark’ climate bill (Tim Cronin): On Monday (1/4) lawmakers in both chambers passed S.2995, a climate bill combining elements of bills passed in the Senate (in January 2020) and the House (in July 2020). After months of back and forth, lead bill negotiations (and Joint Energy Committee co-chairs) Sen. Barrett and Rep. Golden released the bill on Sunday (1/3) afternoon.

The bill passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support from lawmakers in both chambers on Monday (1/4), just one day before the end of the legislative session on Tuesday (1/5). In the House only 1 Democrat and 8 (of 31) House Republicans voted against it, while in the Senate only 2 Republicans (including one who lost his re-election in 2020) voted against it.

The bill features a number of key provisions, including:

  • Updates state law to include a definition of environmental justice
  • Increases offshore wind procurement authorization by 43%
  • Sets new sector by sector emissions limits (first in the nation), also requires 5-year climate plans
  • Boosts the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to achieve 40% renewables by 2030
  • Establishes a local net zero stretch code that municipalities can opt-in to
  • Includes a series of natural gas safety measures
  • Reforms the public utility regulator to include climate in its mandate

[Read a full summary, policy breakdown, and learn the political background of the bill here]

– Pressure now on Governor Baker to sign climate bill by Jan 14th (Tim Cronin): The pressure is now on Governor Baker to sign the climate bill before January 14th. If the Governor fails to sign by then, the bill dies and lawmakers will need to refile it in the next session. The Governor can also veto it anytime in the next week, although indications are that he will wait until the 14th to decide what he will do. In a statement on his website, Senator Barrett said that if the bill is not signed, the next legislative session will approve a new version with a veto-proof majority.

Advocates and climate organizations are urging members to email and call the Governor, including calls to action from prominent groups like ELM and the Sierra Club. As are Democratic Party leaders and members of the business community.

It’s unclear what Governor Baker will do. One line of thinking is that parts of the bill differ from his administration’s stated approach to climate policy (e.g. what 2030 emissions limit to set) and that this may cause him to veto it. On the other hand, the overwhelming support displayed by the environmental community, lawmakers, and the public may make any veto politically toxic, and be harmful as Baker considers running for a third term as Governor in 2022.

If you’re interested in expressing your view to Governor Baker on the climate bill, you can email him here or leave a phone message at (617) 725-4005.

– Governor Baker (finally) signs toxic flame retardant ban (Christian Morris): Governor Baker kicked off the new year by signing legislation to ban the use of toxic flame retardants in products from Massachusetts manufacturers and retailers. The bill (S.2338) was first introduced in 2013 by Sen. Creem. In 2019, the Governor had the opportunity to sign the bill after it passed both chambers of the legislature, but it ultimately died when Baker refused to sign it.  Now the bill is state law and will restrict the use of 11 toxic chemicals from use in household items, such as couches, curtains, carpeting, and other furniture items. Proponents of the legislation argued that not only are the chemical flame retardants relatively ineffective at mitigating fires but when burned they also release carcinogenic toxins into the air that have severe health implications.

In a comment to the Roundup, Clean Water Action’s Massachusetts Director Elizabeth Saunders said, “This moment has been a long time in coming and we are grateful for the persistent leadership of bill sponsors Senator Cindy Creem and Representative Marjorie Decker, Speaker DeLeo, President Spilka and all the legislators, parents, firefighters, health professionals, scientists and advocates who worked together to create this victory for the people of Massachusetts.”

– ICYMI: Quincy Rep Mariano elected Speaker, cites ‘green economy’ goal (Tim Cronin): On Wednesday, December 30th, Quincy Representative and Majority Leader Ron Mariano was elected by his colleagues to fill out the remainder of Deleo’s Speaker-term, which ended on January 5th, 2021 (The House again voted on Wednesday, January 6th to make Mariano speaker for the full 2-year term ending in January 2023). No other Democrat ran against Mariano, and only two Democratic lawmakers objected to Mariano becoming Speaker (Rep. Tami Gouveia of Acton, and freshman lawmaker Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven of Somerville). No other leadership positions were filled at the time. The Speaker generally appoints members to committees, as committee chairs, and to leadership posts in February/March.

In his acceptance speech, Mariano said, “We need to create opportunity in each county, from Berkshire to Barnstable, and everywhere in between. The path to that reality is making Massachusetts a leader in the green economy. We are on the cusp of an offshore wind energy revolution, and it will begin off of our shores.”

– “8 Ways The New Climate Bill Affects You, Your Washing Machine And Our Climate Goals” (Miriam Wasser, Earthwhile): [read the article]

– Baker Administration outlines plans to achieve net zero by 2050 (Tim Cronin): At the very end of December 2020 (12/30), the Baker administration released two reports – the Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap Report and an interim 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP). Both are *very* long (145+ pages), and outline which emissions goals Governor Baker’s plans to target and which policies he sees as necessary to achieve them. Implementing the specific approaches in the plans would still largely require passing legislation. The plans would also be impacted by the legislature’s recent climate bill (S.2995) if it’s signed into law by Baker in the next week. An example of this is the state’s 2030 emissions goal, which the administration wants to be set at 45%, but the legislature sets at 50% in their climate bill [read the administration’s full press release].

– “Massachusetts Will Require All New Cars Sold Be Electric By 2035” (Johnna Crider, CleanTechnica): [read the article]


– “Senators Markey And Warren Call For Pause On Springfield, Massachusetts, Biomass Plant” (Karen Brown, New England Public Media): [read the article]


– “Clean Water Act protections must be maintained (Editorial)” by The Republican Editorial via MassLive

 “Capitol Rioters Walked Away. Climate Protesters Saw a Double Standard.” by John Schwartz, via New York Times

– “Climate bill: Not the finish line, but a few steps in the right direction” by Ben Hellerstein, via Environment Massachusetts

– “Baker is wrong to subsidize wood burning” by William Moomaw, John Sterman, Juliette Rooney-Varga, and Richard Birdsey, via Commonwealth Magazine

– “Mass. Is Going On A Greenhouse Gas Diet. So Should Every Other State In The Northeast” by Rich Barlow, via WBUR

– “Now is time for Massachusetts to invest more in regional food systems” by Philip Kormand, via MassLive

– ”Op-ed: Renewable energy is a triple win for economy, environment and consumers” by Marcy Reed and Daniel Westerman, via Boston Business Journal 


– “Program Offers A Lifeline To Fishermen, And A Home For Unwanted Oysters” (Barbara Moran, Earthwhile): [read the article]

– “Mass. Has Strong Rules About Burning Wood For Electricity. In 2021, It Plans To Roll Them Back” (Miriam Wasser, Earthwhile): [read the article]

– “Want To Know If Raw Sewage Gets Dumped In Your Local River? There’s A Bill On Baker’s Desk About It” (Miriam Wasser, Earthwhile): [read the article]

– “Many Scientists Now Say Global Warming Could Stop Relatively Quickly After Emissions Go to Zero” (Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News): [read the article]

– “Research: Existing emissions will warm the Earth by more than 2 degrees celsius” (Rachel Frazin, The Hill): [read the article]

– “Average Temperatures in Cities Forecast to Spike as Climate Change Worsens” (Martin Macias Jr., Courthouse News Service): [read the article]


– “After 2020, we need to talk about how we talk about catastrophe” (Ezra Markowitz and Lucia Graves, Washington Post): [read the article]


– “Mayflower wind power could cost 10 percent less” (Colin Young, SHNS via WWLP): [read the article]


– “To Guard Against Flooding, Boston Proposes Climate-Resilient Zoning” (Simón Rios, Earthwhile): [read the article]

– “Boston zoning change would require net-zero emissions from new buildings” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): [read the article]

– “Brockton gets $250,000 grant to clean up downtown Corcoran site where housing is planned” (Cody Shepard, The Enterprise): [read the article]


– “Boston’s ready to join dozens of other municipalities in renewable-energy push” (Jon Chesto, Boston Globe): [read the article]

– “Climate bill would clear up solar tax confusion” (Shira Schoenberg, Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]


– Cooler Earth Podcast | “No economy functions well when people are dying” (Maria Virginia Olano, Climate XChange, and Matthew Goldberg, PhD): [listen to the podcast]


– WEBINAR: “The Power of Labor in a Green Economy” (Noa Dalzell, Climate XChange): [register]


– “Heading into her second term, Ayanna Pressley is poised to wield more power in Washington” (Jazmine Ulloa, Boston Globe): [read the article]


 Tim Cronin, is stepping up as Climate XChange’s first Massachusetts State Director. He previously worked as a policy advisor for CXC, and as Policy & Partnerships Manager at the Climate Action Business Association (a project of CXC). He will continue to author the Roundup, and do all things Massachusetts, all the time.


Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from last week:

  1. Climate bill needs a holiday miracle
  2. Baker signs MA up for regional carbon price
  3. Globe: Mariano has votes to be next SpeakerBoston

Read the full Roundup here from December 23rd, 2020 here.

FOR MORE CONTENT from us subscribe to the Climate XChange Newsletter (Fridays, weekly) and check out the fourth season of the Cooler Earth Podcast.

Featured Image: Photo by Aubrey Odom via Unsplash