BEACON HILL HAPPENINGS
– With climate bill now law, some policymakers shift focus to implementation (Tim Cronin): Last week lawmakers joined Governor Baker as he signed a sweeping climate bill into law. Despite the back and forth over the final details of the bill, making it into law was really only half the battle. Now, its various parts must be implemented by the Governor, so that it can reduce emissions as its authors intend it to.
Like all legislation, this new law leaves a number of big and small decisions up to the Governor. Over the coming years and decades, Governor Baker and his successors will heavily influence how its implemented, which includes: setting the new climate goals, drafting plans, making appointments, holding administration officials accountable do what the law says, seeking funding for parts of it, establishing new regulations, and regularly updating components of the law, among other things.
Upcoming deadlines that the Governor’s administration must now meet because of the new law include:
Beginning in June 2021 the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) must begin to consider emissions reductions in its decision-making process. The DPU oversees gas and electric utilities in the state, like Eversource and National Grid.
Starting in July 2021, the Governor will have three new vacancies to fill on the Board of Building Regulation and Standards (BBRS) with green building experts. The BBRS is partially responsible for establishing and enforcing the new law’s option net zero stretch building code.
By July 2021, the Governor’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs has to begin setting emissions reduction goals for MassSave, which previously focused only on energy efficiency.
By the end of 2021, and every year afterward, the DPU must transfer $12 million in new funds to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), for a workforce training program focused on clean energy.
No later than the beginning of July 2022, the administration must set new emissions limits and sub-limits for 2025. This will also include a roadmap plan that outlines how the state will achieve these reductions. This process will repeat every five years until the state hits net zero emissions in 2050.
By December 2022, the administration must finish writing and promulgate (i.e. make official regulations for) the new net zero stretch building codes, after which communities can begin opt-ing in to them.
In the last week, Senator Michael Barrett has put out a warning to the Baker administration, cautioning against improper implementation of any parts of the new law. In an email, Senator Barrett said, “I hope the Governor is not toying with the idea of slow-walking implementation of the bill.” He went on to say, “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Governor’s people drag their feet on the regulation-writing process that must come next.” As Senate co-chair of the joint energy committee, Senator Barrett will play a primary role in oversight of the new law’s implementation. Alongside Rep. Golden and Rep. Roy, Senator Barrett led the negotiations with the Governor over the final language in the new climate law.
Another factor that will impact the implementation of the new law is who is in the corner office. Governor Baker’s second term ends in early January 2023, and it remains to be seen if he will seek a third term as Governor in an election slated for November 2022. If he doesn’t (or doesn’t win reelection) his replacement will have as much power as Baker does now in shaping how effective of an emissions-reducing policy this new law will be for Massachusetts.
– “‘Net zero’ by 2050? Massachusetts implements new building code option, expands solar access under new law” (Zack Budryk, MassLive): [read the article]
ALL POLICY IS LOCAL
– “Why A Federal Order In The Weymouth Compressor Case Has The Natural Gas World Worried” (Miriam Wasser, WBUR): [read the article]
– “MetroWest towns and cities working together to offer clean energy technology” (Cesareo Contreras, MetroWest Daily News): [read the article]
– “Mission Hill’s first net zero carbon building is the renovated home for building materials reuse center” (Universal Hub): [read the article]
– “In Communities Shouldering Environmental Burdens, Life Was Deadly Pre-Pandemic, Too” by María Belén Power, via Newsweek.
– “Haven Vincent-Warner on Youth Climate Activism and Community Organizing” by Ava Gallo, via Climate XChange
– Massachusetts EJ champion joins White House Panel (Christian Morris): This week, the Biden administration announced the members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Among the members is María Belén Power, a champion for environmental justice with the community-based group GreenRoots in Chelsea, MA. Belén-Power will bring her expertise to support the White House’s commitment to confront long-standing environmental injustices. The other members of the panel include prominent climate and environmental leaders like Dr. Robert Bullard –– a.k.a. “the Father of Environmental Justice” –– Catherine Coleman Flowers, Jerome Foster, and many more. [read more]
– “Mayor Mitchell, city councilors send another Parallel Products opposition letter to state” (South Coast Today): [read the article]
THE GREEN ECONOMY, STUPID
– MassCEC Report Details 2020 Clean Energy Industry (Christian Morris): A new report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center outlines how clean energy businesses lost a net 13,900 jobs from March through September 2020. Despite industry losses over the past year, job growth in Massachusetts’ clean energy industry experienced an 89% growth. [read the full report]
– “Mass. clean energy sector lost nearly 20,000 jobs in 2020” (Gintautas Dumcius, Boston Business Journal): [read the article]
– “Powering the energy transition with better storage” (Leda Zimmerman, MIT News): [read the article]
– “Dozens Of Right Whales Return To Waters Off Massachusetts” (AP via Earthwhile): [read the article]
THE LEGAL ENVIRONMENT
– “Lawyers clash over $1b hydropower transmission corridor” (AP via Boston Globe): [read the article]
– “Judge Throws Out Downtown Boston Harbor Development Plan” (Conservation Law Foundation) [read the article]
– “Climate pact hinges on other states” (Christian M. Wade, Newburyport News): [read the article]
– “This Boston car-sharing service puts low-income drivers in electric vehicles” (Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network): [read the article]
– “Massachusetts Contractors and Developers Back Final Climate Bill” (Scott Van Voorhis, Engineering News Record): [read the article]
– “Major U.S. airlines commit to carbon neutrality by 2050, trade body says” (Reuters): [read the article]
BEYOND THE BAY STATE
– “Permits And Protests: The Fight Against The Line 3 Pipeline In Minnesota” (Olivia Gwilliam, Climate XChange): [read the article]
– “After Decades of Mistreatment, EJ Groups Seek to Turn Page in Chicago” (Gus Haffner, Climate XChange): [read the article]
INSIDE THE BELTWAY
– “Biden sets big goal for offshore wind” (Colin A. Young, SHNS via Commonwealth Magazine): [read the article]
– María Belén Power has been selected by President Biden to join the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. She will continue in her current role, as Associate Executive Director at GreenRoots in Chelsea.
– Christopher Cook was named the incoming Executive Director of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston. Before this, he was the Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space at City of Boston under Mayor Walsh.
Missed the last CXC Roundup? Here are the top three climate headlines from the previous weeks:
- Next Generation Roadmap legislation signed by Governor
- Mariano to pursue clean energy investments on South Coast
- Climate pact up in the air