Massachusetts State Senator Cindy Creem has shown a genuine commitment to her constituents to get climate solutions enacted into law. Nevertheless, it was her granddaughter’s concerns about the climate crisis that prompted her to do even more to work for progress at the Statehouse in recent months. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate, and a member of the Climate Conference Committee that is chaired by State Representative Jeff Roy and State Senator Mike Barrett, Senator Creem was part of a team of negotiators intent on resolving differences between House and Senate versions of an important new climate bill.

With help provided by climate policy experts, this team of legislators crafted the 2022 Climate and Clean Energy Bill that Governor Baker signed into law on August 12. Each of our elected officials and the policy experts deserve much credit for producing a climate bill that is expected to stimulate the Commonwealth’s clean energy economy and strengthen its ability to meet our emissions targets.

The new law, formally called “An Act driving clean energy and offshore wind,” will:

  • Target transportation emissions by expanding electric vehicle rebates for the purchase or lease of zero-emission vehicles (up to $4,500) and an extra incentive for low-income residents (additional $1,500) and requiring electrification of MBTA buses.
  • Enact policies to support the development of a wide network of electric vehicle charging stations and ensure that the electric grid can support them.
  • Reform a troubled gas infrastructure program that will allow for investment in renewable thermal energy infrastructure like networked geothermal.
  • Allow 10 municipalities to pilot fossil-free new construction and major renovations, excluding life science labs, health care facilities, and hospitals, provided each community meets a standard around inclusionary housing policy.
  • Remove several regulatory barriers to promote solar development. ‘
  • Create conditions for an inclusive offshore wind industry with investments in infrastructure and workforce development by supporting minority-owned businesses and ensuring economic benefits are shared with environmental justice communities.
  • Prevent wood-burning biomass plants from qualifying for clean energy incentives in the Renewable Portfolio Standard. Reform ratepayer-funded efficiency programs by reducing incentives for fossil fuel equipment starting in 2025 and increasing accountability in the efficacy of energy efficiency services to low-income ratepayers and households.
  • Require large buildings (20,000 sq. ft. and larger) across the Commonwealth to report annual energy usage.
  • Create a pilot program for whole home building retrofits in low-and-moderate income buildings, effective July 2023.

In the coming months, Massachusetts citizens can look forward to working with state and local leaders to make even more environmental progress for a sustainable future. In the meantime, we can appreciate the outstanding work of those who spearheaded the passage of comprehensive legislation that will hasten our transition to local, clean energy and set us on a course to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Marcia Cooper is president of Green Newton.

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