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Updated State Climate Bill Will Go To Senate Vote Thursday

The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A month after Gov. Charlie Baker returned a sweeping climate and emission reduction bill with recommended changes, the Senate plans to vote Thursday on an updated version that makes a bevy of revisions, but rejects the governor's most noted attempts to relax an interim 2030 emission target and soften the proposed new building codes.

Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and one of the authors of the bill, said the plan is for the Senate to vote on the revised bill Thursday, and he believes the House could follow suit as soon as next Wednesday.

"The bill has gone through a hazing over the past several months, but it's emerging unbowed," said Barrett.

The climate bill, which would commit Massachusetts to a net-zero emissions goal by 2050, became an early session priority for legislative leaders after Baker vetoed similar, late-arriving legislation last session over concerns that it could stall housing production and add unnecessary expenses for residents.

The Legislature passed an identical bill in January, and Baker last month returned it with amendments, which he was unable to do with the previous iteration because of the timing of its passage at the end of the last session.

Barrett said the bill the Senate will vote on incorporates "all but a handful" of the governor's amendments that will "make the bill better," but added, "None of the major ones are being accepted."

Notably, Baker pushed back against the Legislature's attempt to set an emission reduction target of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, suggesting the state could still achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 with a 45 percent reduction goal and save $6 billion in the process. He asked for flexibility to set the 2030 level between 45 percent and 50 percent.

Barrett said it's increasingly likely that John Kerry, the new climate czar in the Biden administration, will announce a 50 percent emission reduction target by 2030 for the country next month as part of a climate summit planned around Earth Day, "If we went below 50 percent we risk not even holding up our end of a national commitment. That doesn't seem like a wise things to do," Barrett said.

This story is developing and will be updated

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