Massachusetts lawmakers agree to compromise on climate change bill


With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, people walk by a sign for Hanover Street in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON (AP) — A compromise bill mandating some of the steps Massachusetts must take to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has been approved by House and State lawmakers. Senate.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has 10 days to review the legislation and decide whether to sign it or veto it.

The legislation was passed as dangerously high temperatures threatened much of the North East, raising concerns about climate change. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu extended a previously announced heat emergency in the city until Sunday.

State Representative Jeff Roy and State Senator Mike Barrett, both Democrats, helped craft the compromise, combining pieces of legislation approved separately by the House and Senate.

Both said the compromise preserved the core ideas of both bills.

“Massachusetts must open up huge new sources of green electric power if it is to stay on an emissions reduction path,” the two said in a joint statement. “Today’s compromise aims to increase clean energy, especially offshore wind but also solar, storage and grid-based geothermal, and get it through cars, trucks, buses and buildings, the state’s largest sources of emissions.”

The bill takes more aggressive action to address tailpipe emissions.

It would increase the rebate for eligible purchases and leases of zero-emission passenger cars and light trucks costing $55,000 or less to $3,500, and provide an additional $1,000 for buyers who trade in an internal combustion vehicle.

Sales of new vehicles are expected to be zero emissions starting in 2035, while new purchases and leases of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority buses are also expected to be zero emissions by 2030, the entire transportation fleet in common going to zero emissions by 2040.

The legislation aims to tackle so-called ‘range anxiety’ of electric cars by encouraging the creation of more charging stations.

Lawmakers have also tried to bolster support for solar and wind power.

The bill would allow agricultural and horticultural land to be used for solar panels as long as it does not interfere with the continued use of the land for agricultural or horticultural purposes. It would also offer tax breaks to companies that could contribute substantially to the “fabrication, fabrication and assembly” of components in the domestic offshore wind industry supply chain.

Building construction can also play a role – helpful or harmful – in fossil fuel emissions.

Under the bill, 10 cities and towns would be allowed to require fossil fuel-free new construction, as long as each community first meets the 10% affordable housing target set by state law and also exempts life science labs and health care facilities all-need electricity.

In recent years, Massachusetts has stepped up efforts to increase its reliance on renewable energy, particularly to support offshore wind projects.

Baker signed a separate bill last year to create a net zero greenhouse gas emissions limit by 2050.

The legislation would also strengthen protections for “environmental justice populations” — typically low-income communities facing greater health risks from pollution.

Not all of the state’s renewable energy efforts have gone smoothly.

Last year, Maine officials blocked a billion-dollar power line aimed at bringing Canadian hydropower to New England, including Massachusetts, after Maine residents chastised the project in a referendum.

On Thursday, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Citizens’ Council rejected the latest effort to kill the power line. The state Supreme Court is expected to rule on two lawsuits related to the power line project in the coming weeks.


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