Barrett scores major win in fight against climate change For Immediate Release

A landmark climate bill has been signed into law, placing Massachusetts among the world leaders in the fight against global warming.  The new law, representing the contributions of many legislators but assembled, edited, and defended principally by local senator Mike Barrett, overhauls the state’s climate statute, advances the clean energy industry, protects low- and middle-income families, and provides tools to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“This bill is about getting down to brass tacks.  It’s about getting the job done, one step at a time, starting now,” said Barrett, the Senate’s leader on climate and energy.  “The pace of climate change is picking up — so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next Generation Climate Roadmap law reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of Massachusetts is a force to be reckoned with.”

The bill’s route to ultimate success was not always assured.  Despite bi-partisan support in the Senate and House, the bill was vetoed at the end of the last legislative session by Governor Charlie Baker, who cited concerns of special business interests.

In response, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Ron Mariano moved swiftly to pass the bill again.  And when the governor offered an amendment to strip the bill of major provisions, the Legislature stood firm, accepting a number of technical changes but rejecting any effort to slow the rate of climate progress.

The final legislation:

  • Sets a statewide net-zero limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, mandates emissions limits every five years, and sets sub-limits for transportation, buildings, and other sectors of the economy. “Tightening the limits and sublimits — keeping the timelines close — is a first-in-the-nation step,” says Barrett.
  • Establishes a municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code which includes a definition of “net-zero building” and net-zero building performance standards.
  • Requires an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind, increasing the total authorization to 5,600 megawatts in the Commonwealth.
  • Directs the Department of Public Utilities (DPU), the regulator of the state’s electric and natural gas utilities, to balance priorities going forward: system safety, system security, reliability, affordability, equity, and, significantly, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Codifies environmental justice provisions into Massachusetts law, defining environmental justice populations and providing new tools and protections for affected neighborhoods.
  • Sets appliance energy efficiency standards for a variety of common appliances including plumbing, faucets, computers, and commercial appliances.
  • Requires utilities to include an explicit value for greenhouse gas reductions when they calculate the cost-effectiveness of an offering of MassSave.
  • Increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 3 per cent each year from 2025–2029, resulting in 40 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
  • Factors the “carbon sequestration” capacity of Massachusetts’ natural and working lands directly into our emissions reduction plans.
  • Adopts several measures aimed at improving gas pipeline safety, including increased fines for safety violations, provisions related to training and certifying utility contractors, and setting interim targets for companies to reduce leak rates.
  • Prioritizes equitable access to the state’s solar programs by low-income communities.
  • Sets benchmarks for the adoption of clean energy technologies including electric vehicles, charging stations, solar technology, energy storage, heat pumps and anaerobic digestors.
  • Establishes $12 million in annual funding for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to create a pathway to the clean energy industry for environmental justice populations, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, and fossil fuel workers.
  • Provides solar incentives for businesses by exempting them from the net metering cap to allow them to install solar systems on their premises to help them offset their electricity use and save money.
  • Creates a first-time greenhouse gas emissions standard for municipal lighting plants that requires them to purchase 50 percent non-emitting electricity by 2030, 75 percent by 2040 and “net zero” by 2050.

“The new law is a game-changer for Massachusetts that other states are sure to follow,” said Barrett.  “It steps up the pace of our collective effort to slow climate change.”

Early deadlines under the new law:

  • Beginning around July 1, 2021, the Department of Public Utilities, regulator of natural gas and electric power companies, must give equal weight to emissions reductions alongside the agency’s more traditional emphasis on reliability and prices.
  • Also by July 1, Baker will have three new vacancies to fill — green building experts, all — on a reconstituted Board of Building Regulation and Standards, a high-impact-low-profile entity with enormous sway over energy use in new construction.
  • By July 15, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides must set a first-ever greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for programs sponsored by MassSave, the popular home energy efficiency program.
  • By New Year’s Day, 2022, the DPU must have transferred $12 million in new funds to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, for a workforce training program focused on clean energy.
  • By July 1, 2022, the EEA Secretary must have adopted emissions limits and sub-limits for the fast-approaching year 2025.
  • By Christmas, 2022, the Department of Energy Resources must have developed and promulgated a new “specialized stretch energy code” that will be effective for any given town or city only upon adoption by the municipality itself.

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As climate bill nears enactment, Sen. Barrett vows to be watching closely Bedford Minuteman

Seventy-five days ago Wednesday, senators, representatives and administration officials gathered in the State Library to watch Gov. Charlie Baker sign a wide-reaching climate policy law. That means there are just 15 days left before it takes effect, and the lead Senate architect of the law made clear Wednesday he will be watching its implementation closely.

Sen. Michael Barrett spoke as part of the Northeast Clean Energy Council and Alliance for Business Leadership’s annual Massachusetts Clean Energy Day, an event featuring his House counterpart Rep. Jeff Roy and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock, and that illustrated the bifurcated state of climate policy right now: one eye on making the ambitious new law a reality and the other looking for a solution to the next challenge.

Read More —>

Watchdogs on alert ahead of climate law implementation WWLP

“I want to emphasize the Senate’s interest in following through with implementation of the 2021 climate act. The Senate as a body has a lot invested here,” Barrett said, adding that even though the law was a result of legislative and executive branch collaboration, “small gaps” remain between how the Senate would like to see the law implemented and the Baker administration’s perspective.

The law Baker signed in March after months of stops and starts commits Massachusetts to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, establishes interim emissions goals between now and the middle of the century, adopts energy efficiency standards for appliances, authorizes another 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power and addresses needs in environmental justice communities.

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Sen. Mike Barrett Shares FY22 Senate Budget with Funding for Bedford High School & Support for Environmental Initiative Staff The Bedford Citizen

Of local interest, Mike Barrett, Bedford’s State Senator, secured funding to mitigate the costs Bedford incurs for educating children of families living on Hanscom Air Force Base.  More than one hundred Hanscom Air Force Base students attend high school at local expense.  The town has opened its doors to these children for more than fifty years through an agreement with the Department of Defense.

“Town officials have stressed the importance of the funding,” said Barrett.  “I’m pleased we were able to come through.”

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Should Massachusetts Keep The Film Tax Credit? WGBH

Massachusetts has had a generous film tax credit in place since 2006 to lure film and television productions — and the jobs they generate — to the state, but some elected leaders have long questioned the wisdom of the policy, which also provides generous benefits to wealthy people tied to such projects who don’t always live in Massachusetts. State Senator Michael Barrett and Chris O’Donnell, a business manager from the union representing New England film and TV workers joined Jim Braude to debate the tax credit, which is also being debate on Beacon Hill.

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State Sen. Mike Barrett adds funds for Waltham groups, climate staff Waltham Tribune

The Massachusetts Senate has voted to approve its version of the state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 and state Sen. Mike Barrett authored successful amendments for initiatives aimed at supporting young people and low-income residents of Waltham.

The Senate plan preserves and expands access to essential funding, including public health initiatives, at a time when the state continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

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Massachusetts Passes New Bill Aimed at Tackling Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cheddar News

The state of Massachusetts has just put into place one of the strongest climate laws in the country. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, contains a number of new ideas as the state looks to lead on this important issue. Massachusetts State Senator and author of this bill, Michael Barrett, joined Cheddar to discuss.

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OPINION: Next steps crucial on Massachusetts’ new climate law Lexington Minuteman

The administration needs to get with the program quickly. “Next-Gen” sets a number of deadlines:

• On July 1, Gov. Baker will have three new vacancies to fill — green building experts, all — on a reconstituted Board of Building Regulation and Standards, a low-profile entity with enormous sway over energy use in new construction.

• By July 15, 2021, the administration must set a first-ever greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal for Mass Save, the popular home energy efficiency program.

• No later than July 1, 2022, the administration must adopt emissions limits and sublimits for the year 2025, together with a “comprehensive, clear and specific” plan for operating within them.

• By 21 months from now, the administration must develop and promulgate a new “municipal opt-in specialized stretch energy code” that includes “net zero building performance standards” and a definition of “net zero building.”

Read More Here —>

OPINION: Next steps on Massachusetts’ new climate law Concord Journal

It’s no secret the governor vetoed an earlier version of the climate bill on the prodding of builders and developers. Taking note of the increasing urgency of global warming, we responded to the pushback by doubling down on net zero in the version of the bill that became law.

My constituents have been instrumental in seeing to it that Massachusetts passed the most ambitious climate bill in the country, which is cause for celebration. Now we need to make sure it gets implemented well.

Read More Here —>

Old data slows climate change efforts Gloucester Daily Times

Sen. Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, a co-chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, who co-authored the bill, says up-to-date data is crucial for the plan to succeed.

“We’re taking note of the incredible lag time that has been involved in reporting back to the Legislature on whether we are curbing emissions,” Barrett said during a recent Joint Way and Means Committee hearing. “We need to provide that data in a much more time-relevant way than has been the case.”

Barrett said the new climate law requires the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to provide lawmakers with an update on emissions levels every 18 months “so that we’re not looking at 2017 numbers in 2021.”

Read More Here —> 

After passing a landmark climate law, Mass. officials now face the hard part: how to wean the state off fossil fuels Boston Globe

The presentation suggested natural gas was in for the “fight of its life.” Slides urged that “everyone needs to contact legislators in favor of” the fossil fuel and warned “Anti-Gas Pressure Continues to Grow.” Another slide suggested the industry should “take advantage of power outage fear.”

The slide that most concerned them was one that said Eversource supported a “consortium to combat electrification,” suggesting the company and others in the industry sought to blunt the move toward renewable energy.

“This is a smoking gun for someone like me,” said state Senator Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat and one of the climate bill’s lead negotiators. “This is distressing, explosive stuff. I worry this represents the real sentiments of Eversource.”

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Op-ed: Next Steps On MA’s New Climate Law Patch.com

The bill signing for the Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy took place in the Library of the State House, otherwise empty due to the pandemic.

“I have heard words used to describe this piece of legislation, words such as sweeping, landmark, far-reaching, ambitious, bold and nation-leading,” Senate President Karen Spilka said. “I believe it is all of these things.”

Well put. We’re the first state to keep attention riveted on climate by setting emissions limits every five years instead of every ten. The first state to mandate emissions sublimits on the most important sources of greenhouse gases — transportation, buildings, and electric power. The first state to overhaul the charter of its electric power and natural gas regulator to include, alongside price and system reliability, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Here —>

Baker signs climate change bill into law CommonWealth Magazine

Sen. Michael Barrett, who led the negotiations for the Senate and said he is concerned that the Baker administration has tried to “evade legislative intent” of the new law, said Friday that everyone in state government now must start “pulling in the same direction” now that the work turns to implementation.

“The order of the day beginning tomorrow is ensuring interpretations of the law that are true to legislative intent and then overseeing implementation in a way that is true to legislative intent,” he said. “One reason I’ve been so concerned about the administration’s insistence on idiosyncratic readings of the new statute is because today’s abstract discussion segues over in tomorrow’s implementation. If the administration pushes back against the plain language of the law today, how are they going to implement it tomorrow?”

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The pace of climate change is picking up — so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next-Gen Climate Roadmap law reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of MA is a force to be reckoned with.
Special thanks to Senate President Karen E. Spilka and

Speaker Ron Mariano, who know how to lead. Special nod to State Rep. Tom Tipa Golden and his successor, State Rep Jeff Roy, who know how to collaborate. And special shout-out to MA climate activists, who know how to mobilize.

After a veto, Baker signs landmark climate bill The Boston Globe

After vetoing the initial bill and sending a second one back to lawmakers with a host of proposed amendments, Governor Charlie Baker on Friday signed a revised climate bill, establishing one of the nation’s most far-reaching efforts to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions.

The new law requires Massachusetts to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 75 percent below those levels by 2040, and achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050. Given that it’s unlikely the state will eliminate all of its emissions, officials will have to plant trees or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to offset any lingering use of fossil fuels or other sources of greenhouse gases.

Read More Here —>

What You Need To Know About The New Mass. Climate Law WBUR

The new law, “An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy,” represents the most significant update to climate policy in the Commonwealth since the landmark 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act. And with hundreds of statutory updates and changes, it tackles a lot — everything from solar panels and offshore wind to new building codes and regulatory priorities for state agencies.

Climate and energy policy can be confusing and full of jargon, but here — in simple English — is what you need to know about what’s in the new law:

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Landmark Legislation Signed in the Fight against Climate Change The Bedford Citizen

A landmark climate bill has been signed into law, placing Massachusetts among the world leaders in the fight against global warming.  The new law, representing the contributions of many legislators but assembled, edited, and defended principally by Bedford’s state senator Mike Barrett, overhauls the state’s climate statute, advances the clean energy industry, protects low- and middle-income families, and provides tools to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“This bill is about getting down to brass tacks.  It’s about getting the job done, one step at a time, starting now,” said Barrett, the Senate’s leader on climate and energy.  “The pace of climate change is picking up — so the pace of climate policy must pick up. The Next Generation Climate Roadmap law reflects the concerns of people of every age, from every part of the state. The grassroots climate movement of Massachusetts is a force to be reckoned with.”

Read More —>

Lexington Sen. Barrett’s climate bill signed at last Lexington Minuteman

Sen. Michael Barrett, who led the negotiations for the Senate and said he is concerned that the Baker administration has tried to “evade legislative intent” of the new law, said Friday that everyone in state government now must start “pulling in the same direction” now that the work turns to implementation.

“The order of the day beginning tomorrow is ensuring interpretations of the law that are true to legislative intent and then overseeing implementation in a way that is true to legislative intent,” he said. “One reason I’ve been so concerned about the administration’s insistence on idiosyncratic readings of the new statute is that today’s abstract discussion segues over in tomorrow’s implementation. If the administration pushes back against the plain language of the law today, how are they going to implement it tomorrow?”

Read More —>