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Mass. Senate approves 3 net-zero environmental bills

Mass. Senate approves 3 net-zero environmental bills

From the Daily Hampshire Gazette:

The Massachusetts Senate approved a series of bills Thursday that supporters say will help dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades.

The package of bills envisions transitioning cars, trucks and buses to carbon-free electric power, jump-starting efforts to supply low-cost solar electricity to low-income communities, and requiring appliances meet energy efficiency standards.

Supporters say they’re aiming for a statewide “net zero” emissions greenhouse gas limit for the year 2050.

Democratic state Sen. Marc Pacheco said Massachusetts is starting to fall behind other states which have passed aggressive carbon emissions standards …

The bills would set a deadline for converting all Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority buses to all-electric power by requiring the MBTA to limit bus purchases and leases to zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2030, and to aim for an all zero-emissions fleet by 2040.

State government would be limited to buying or leasing zero emissions vehicles beginning in 2024. The bills would provide rebates or other financial incentives to consumers who buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle.

To reach the 2050 net-zero goal, the legislation requires the state to hit near-term carbon limits in 2025, 2030 and every five years after that. The bill also sets separate sub-limits for transportation, buildings, solid waste, natural gas distribution and other major sectors …

Supporters of the bills say they will also help counter efforts by the Republican administration of President Donald Trump to slow the progress of energy-efficient appliances by updating the state’s own appliance standards to improve energy and water standards for household and commercial appliances.

Existing Massachusetts law — the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act — set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. The package of bills would effectively set a goal of 100% below 1990 levels.

The bills would give the governor and his successors the ability to choose among various market based forms of carbon pricing — including a revenue-neutral fee or a regional “cap and trade” system — to reduce greenhouse gas emissions …

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he’s committed to achieving a climate goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said last week that the House will also be supporting the net-zero goal.

The Senate bills now head to the House.

Legislative Actions

Time critical actions:

Municipal Sustainability Checklist

We have created a municipal “sustainability checklist” that can help towns compare what they are doing with other towns, as well as get ideas and encourage collaboration. For residents, the checklist helps understand what towns are doing and not doing, as well as set priorities for local advocacy. For organizers, the checklist is an excellent tool to organize local groups around, and to build networks of people who care about sustainability.

Click here for details.