Legislature Misses Opportunity to Take Bold Action on Climate Change

Yesterday, leaders from the House and Senate released a bill that will modestly move the Commonwealth along a path to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction requirements. This bill (H4857) contained some laudable elements, but provides little in the way of bold policy innovation and leadership expected from the Bay State.

Among the provisions of this bill are a small and temporary increase to the Renewable Portfolio Standard; the establishment of a 1,000 MW energy storage target for 2025; and the possibility of another 1,600 MW of offshore wind resources, including new offshore wind transmission systems. This bill also includes improvements to energy efficiency programs; an untried and unstudied clean peak standard; corrections to a misguided Department of Public Utilities decision that would have had a chilling effect on people seeking to install solar power; direction to utilities to explore ways to upgrade their distribution networks that do not involve building large transmission projects; and methods for utilities to address natural gas leaks.

We appreciate the commitment that the Legislature has shown by acting on energy issues for a second legislative session in a row. However, this bill does not go far enough, and we hope to see renewed efforts in the next session.

“The legislature failed to tackle our biggest greenhouse gas challenge: the transportation sector, which accounts for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in MA. They also did not address net metering caps that are limiting solar development in the Commonwealth, including a provision that would benefit low income and urban communities.” said Eric Wilkinson, General Counsel and Director of Energy Policy at the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM).”

“The limited bill does not match the urgency needed to address climate change mitigation and renewable energy deployment,” said ELM President Elizabeth Henry. “In order to make meaningful progress toward an equitable clean energy future, solar power must be accessible to all. While this bill represents steps in the right direction, we also lost some important opportunities to grow our clean energy economy and improve quality of life. We hope to see the Legislature do more to address some of the most critical energy issues next session.”