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Massachusetts governor signs climate change legislation calling for net-zero emissions

Highlights

New law calls for net-zero emissions by 2050

Bumps offshore wind required authorization to 4 GW

New York — Massachusetts is the latest state to sign a net-zero emissions into law after Governor Charlie Baker signed a comprehensive climate change legislation March 26, calling for the state to achieve net-zero by 2050.

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The new law, Senate Bill 9 "An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy," establishes new interim goals for emissions reductions, authorizes the Administration to implement a new, voluntary energy efficient building code for municipalities, and allows the Commonwealth to procure an additional 2.4 GW of clean, reliable offshore wind energy by 2027, according to a March 26 news release from the governor's office.

"Climate change is an urgent challenge that requires action, and this legislation will reduce emissions in Massachusetts for decades to come while also ensuring the Commonwealth remains economically competitive," Baker said in the news release.

There are 20 US states, plus Washington DC, that have aggressive plans in the works for 100% renewable power, carbon-free power or net-zero emissions, roughly double the number from a year-ago, while 12 states still have not initiated any clean energy plans, according to an S&P Global Platts analysis.

"This is economy-wide legislation that builds on prior actions in the state," said Jennifer McIsaac, S&P Global Platts emissions and clean energy lead analyst. "The 50% GHG reduction goal by 2030 is very ambitious, and goes beyond California's interim target of a 40% reduction by 2030. The bill also has direct implications for power and [Renewable Energy Certificates] markets, raising the Class I Renewable Portfolio Standard and calling for additional offshore wind procurement activity."

Baker released a clean energy plan in December 2020, but twice rejected legislation lawmakers put forth and sent the bill back to the legislature in late February with amendments.

"This bipartisan accomplishment will ensure that the Commonwealth remains a regional leader in the transition to a cleaner and more prosperous energy future," Andrew Gohn, ACP Director of Eastern State Affairs, said in a statement. "The law passed today commits the state to the development of an additional 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy, positioning the state to take advantage of a growing portion of the 83,000 jobs and $57 billion in economic investment that offshore wind is poised to deliver to the East Coast this decade. The bill also raises the state's commitment to land-based wind and solar development, bringing major environmental and economic benefits from those resources as well."

Details

The legislation signed by Baker updates the greenhouse gas emissions limits related to the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, commits Massachusetts to achieve net-zero emissions in 2050, and authorizes the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish an emissions limit of no less than 50% for 2030 and no less than 75% for 2040. It also authorizes EEA to establish emissions limits every five years and sublimits for at least six sectors of the Massachusetts economy - electric power; transportation; commercial and industrial heating and cooling; residential heating and cooling; industrial processes; and natural gas distribution and service.

"This landmark legislation will set Massachusetts on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050 and, in the process, help make Massachusetts a leader of the clean energy future," House Speaker Ronald Mariano said. "This bill reduces barriers to participation in green energy programs and will empower environmental justice populations in the project review process."

The legislation authorizes the Commonwealth to procure an additional 2.4 GW of offshore wind power, bringing the state's total required authorization to 4 GW by 2027.

"The legislation signed ... is supported by a comprehensive, science-based analysis with significant stakeholder input that took place over a two-year period, culminating with the Administration's 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap and Clean Energy and Climate Plan," Kathleen Theoharides, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, said in the news release.