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.”

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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

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.

—State Sen. Michael Barrett, Assistant Majority Leader

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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.

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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.”

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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?”

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Massachusetts Legislature votes to advance climate change bill, again WBUR

After more than six months of negotiations, the legislature sent a slightly different version of this bill to Gov. Baker in early January. Baker vetoed the bill a few days later, citing concerns about new municipal stretch codes and interim emissions reduction goals. The legislature then sent the bill back in the exact same form later that month, and this time, Baker returned it with amendments.

The final bill that Baker intends to sign maintains most of the original provisions but does include some of his proposed amendments — more flexibility around the sector-specific emission targets, for example. In this final version, if the state meets its overall emissions goals, it won’t be subject to legal liability for falling short in one or two sectors.

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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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It’s encouraging to see the town in which I live come together when members of our community are threatened. The incredible turnout at the Stop Asian Hate Vigil in Lexington communicates a message to all of us.
Looking out at the crowd reminded me that the United States of America is not a settled project. It’s a work in progress; it’s still being made. We take part in the making when we get together like this. We make America every time we vote. We do it every time we extend an act of kindness to a newer arrival. We do it by our presence at peaceful rallies. When I go back to my office in the State House, I’ll remember this event and the message you send by coming out on evenings like this, to state, loudly and clearly, that hatred directed against Asian-American threatens to undo the country we’re in the business of creating.

Senate passes climate change bill 39-1 CommonWealth Magazine

“This is a moment that does the Legislature – Senate and House – proud,” said Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the Senate’s point person on climate change.

During debate on the bill, Barrett sought to demonstrate how Massachusetts faces unique challenges in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He said agriculture and land use account for 24 percent of all emissions worldwide but only 0.3 percent in Massachusetts. He said industry accounts for 22 percent of emissions in the United States, but only 5 percent in Massachusetts.

Where Massachusetts is different, Barrett said, is on transportation and building energy use. In Massachusetts, transportation accounts for 42 percent of emissions, compared to 29 percent in the United States and building energy use accounts for 27 percent of emissions in Massachusetts but only 12 percent across the United States.

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