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Mass. Senate Plans To Release Comprehensive Climate Change Bill

Leaders in the state Senate are set to release details Thursday of a long-awaited, comprehensive climate change bill.

Senate President Karen Spilka announced the bill with a social media video that was short on specifics, but credited the activism of young people for urging politicians "to take bold action on climate change right here in Massachusetts."

The unveiling comes two days after Gov. Charlie Baker's State of the Commonwealth address, when he said he wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by mid century.

Baker's Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides told WBUR that the new goal underscores the importance of the roadmap study the EEA announced last week, which will identify the strategies and policies that the state needs to hit the goal. This includes ways to decarbonize the building, transportation, electricity, and non-energy sectors; and the role the Commonwealth's natural and working lands can play in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

State Sen. Mark Pacheco, chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, has pushed for a comprehensive climate bill for years, and provided the legislative impetus. Pacheco wants the bill to include targets for energy storage and limits on building new natural gas compressor stations.

"We have a climate emergency," Pacheco said. "I hope we will move forward as quickly as possible to deploy offshore wind. We want to do more with solar."

In 2019, Pacheco authored the Senate bill "An Act to Secure a Clean Energy Future." Many of the same features could be in Thursday's announcement, including:

  • Require a zero-emission state fleet of vehicles beginning in 2026. Require the Department of Transportation to develop a program to promote private electric vehicle ownership of at least 25% by 2028.
  • Raise the state's annual Renewable Portfolio Standard from 2% to 3% - accelerating more renewable electric generation.
  • Set a goal to store 2,000 megawatts of energy by 2030.
  • Require the Department of Public Utilities to determine whether a contract for new gas pipeline capacity is in the public's interest.
  • Require the procurement of up to 6 gigawatts in additional offshore wind energy resources and additional hydroelectric energy resources.

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Bruce Gellerman Twitter Senior Reporter
Bruce Gellerman is an award-winning journalist and senior correspondent, frequently covering science, business, technology and the environment.

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