Last month, as Massachusetts and 27 other states grappled with a dangerous and record-shattering heat wave, the Legislature passed a far-reaching climate bill that hastens the Commonwealth’s transition to renewable energy, zero-emission vehicles, efficient buildings, and clean forms of heating and cooling.
Then, at the eleventh hour, Governor Baker proposed several changes to the bill, calling into question whether it would become law this year. The Legislature acted quickly to adopt a handful of his amendments that strengthened the bill and to reject revisions that would have weakened its potential to drive meaningful emissions reductions. The bill then returned to the governor, who had the final say over its fate.
It was a nerve-wracking period as we awaited his decision, but I’m thrilled to share with you that the governor has signed the climate bill into law!
I was proud to serve on the climate conference committee that negotiated a strong compromise with the House, and even more proud that the hearings I held this session as chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change helped shape the policies that have been included in the law.
I wanted to share a few highlights of the new climate act with all of you:
- More generous incentives for the purchase or lease of zero-emission vehicles (up to $4,500), and an extra incentive for low-income residents (an additional $1,500);
- Policies to support the development of a robust network of electric vehicle charging stations and ensure that the electric grid can support them;
- Reforms to a troubled gas infrastructure program that will allow for investment in renewable thermal energy infrastructure like networked geothermal;
- A demonstration project that will allow up to 10 communities to restrict the use of fossil fuels in new construction and substantial renovations;
- The removal of several regulatory barriers in order to promote solar development; and
- Tax credits and other reforms to support the growth of an offshore wind supply chain in the Commonwealth and ensure the success of future offshore wind procurements.
Thank you to all of you who shared your climate policy ideas with me, testified at committee hearings, and wrote to the conference committee to encourage us to take bold action before the end of session. This climate bill isn’t just an accomplishment of the Legislature; it’s an accomplishment of Massachusetts’ entire community of climate experts, advocates, and activists.
Yes, there’s more work to be done, and I look forward to partnering with you to advance our shared climate priorities next session. But for now, take a moment to celebrate this important victory, which keeps us on the right track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. And please draw hope from the passage of this landmark law, because in the movement to address the climate crisis, hope is just as important a renewable resource as solar or wind.
The above is an excerpt from Massachusetts Senator Cindy Creem’s newsletter. You can visit her website for additional information and resources. You can also follow Senator Creem on Twitter and subscribe to her email newsletter.