The Massachusetts House of Representatives is right now taking up amendments on its climate bill. They passed the basic bill already, and it has not elicited praise from environment advocates. Here’s Ben Hellerstein, quoted by State House News Service:
“A climate scientist recently said that we’re risking a planet-wide ‘five-alarm fire’ with global warming. Now’s the time to show up with a fire hose. Instead, the House is bringing a toy squirt gun,” Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, said. “With its weak ‘net zero emissions’ target, this bill would allow the use of dirty, polluting oil and gas for decades. At a time when we must move swiftly to end the use of fossil fuels, this bill postpones action in favor of studies and ‘roadmaps,’ requiring nothing to be done for three years. While the bill takes some positive steps to expand solar energy, it falls far short of what’s needed to protect our health and help ensure a safe future.”
It includes 10-year interim commitments for emissions reductions, which is not good enough. We need five-year interim commitments, at the very least. It is supposed to get us to net zero emissions by 2050 which is also considered to be a soft and fuzzy commitment. There is no commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2040, as a bill by Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker would have required. Other than that, some studies; a handful of sweeteners; but little that drives down emissions, now.
So we’re looking for success on a handful of amendments, as put together by ProgressiveMass:
7 Establishing a Net Zero Stretch Energy Code (Gouveia), which requires the creation of a net-zero building code
#17 Clarification of Indirect Emissions (Rogers), which would ensure that gas leaks, landfill emissions, and agricultural emissions get counted in the bill’s definition of “indirect emissions”
#21 Definition of Non-Carbon Emitting (Ehrlich), which removes landfill methane, anaerobic digester gas, and biomass fuel from the definition of “non-emitting” energy sources
#31 Clean Energy Implementation (Decker), which accelerates the annual increase in renewable energy required by the renewable portfolio standard
#46 Heating and Transportation Clean Energy Transition (Decker) , which sets requirements to reduce emissions in the heating and transportation sectors
#52 Environmental Justice (Madaro), which provides critical protections for low-income residents, people of color, and limited English proficient communities and establishes a definition of environmental justice population.
#56 Investing in Working & Environmental Justice Communities (Robinson), which ensures that at least 40% of revenue generated from carbon pricing scheme be rebated to low-income households
#62 Accelerating Emission Target Deadlines (Sabadosa), which moves up the deadline for the Baker administration to issue 2030 and 2040 targets as well as regulations to achieve net zero by 2050
#101 Rooftop Solar (Lewis), which would require rooftop solar panels to be installed on new residential and commercial buildings
It continues to be a frustration that Speaker DeLeo and Energy Chair Tom Golden are still slow-rolling climate action in a state dominated by Democrats at the legislative level. And this is after poll after poll indicates broad public support for strong climate action; when some 70 legislators have signed a Climate Action Now statement … what else do they need? What “hero opportunity” are they waiting for?
Major thanks to the 70 MA Legislators who signed on to the #ClimateActionNow Statement! Your advocacy was absolutely instrumental in ensuring bold climate legislation remained a top priority for the legislature this session. #MAHouse taking up climate bill today. #mapoli pic.twitter.com/jcA6cxgzQQ
— Sen. Marc R. Pacheco (@MarcRPacheco) July 30, 2020