Massachusetts Senate Passes Next Generation Climate Policy

The Massachusetts State Senate has passed comprehensive legislation strengthening the state’s approach to protecting the environment.

The legislative package, passed by the Senate on January 30, sets a statewide greenhouse gas limit for the year 2050 of “net zero” emissions. To achieve this, it requires the state to hit near-term limits in 2025, 2030, and every five years thereafter; set sub-limits for transportation, buildings, solid waste, natural gas distribution, and other major sectors; and make clear implementation plans.

Under the legislation, cities and towns will be able to adopt a net zero stretch energy code. The bill allows the state to support communities that choose on their own to move away from fossil fuels as the source of heating for new buildings. The state will promulgate a net zero energy code, so that municipalities have the option available if they want to use it.

The bill directs the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to set emissions reduction goals for each three-year plan utilities formulate for the MassSave program. It requires the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), at the conclusion of each three-year plan, to certify how much the plan actually contributed to meeting the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emission limits.

The legislation also directs the MBTA to limit bus purchases and leases to zero-emissions vehicles beginning in 2030, and to aim for an all-zero-emissions fleet by 2040, to reduce transportation-related emissions in city neighborhoods.

Under the bill, Massachusetts appliance standards are updated to improve energy and water efficiency standards for common household and commercial appliances, helping to conserve energy and save consumers and businesses money.

“With the passage of this legislation, we have taken long overdue action to reduce emissions and develop a plan for a healthier, more sustainable future in the Merrimack Valley and across Massachusetts,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “Thank you to Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) and Senate Chair of the Utilities & Energy Committee Michael Barrett (D-Lexington) for their leadership in bolstering the Commonwealth’s position as an ideal state wherein to build a strong clean energy economy.”