Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on March 26 signed Senate Bill 9, An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, which allows the state to procure an additional 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy by 2027, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Those additional megawatts bring the state’s total required authorization to 4,000 MW of offshore wind by 2027, the statement noted, adding that earlier this year, the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) filed the third offshore wind power request for proposals (RFP) with the state Department of Public Utilities for review and approval. The RFP solicits project proposals of up to 1,600 MW of offshore wind power and includes new provisions related to diversity, inclusion, economic development, and environmental justice, the statement noted.
The bipartisan law also establishes new interim goals for emissions reductions, increases protections for Environmental Justice communities across Massachusetts, as well as authorizes the Baker-Polito administration to implement a new and voluntary energy efficient building code for municipalities, the statement noted.
Baker said in the statement, in part, “Climate change is an urgent challenge that requires action, and this legislation will reduce emissions in Massachusetts for decades to come while also ensuring the commonwealth remains economically competitive.”
The legislation updates the greenhouse gas emissions limits related to the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, commits Massachusetts to achieve net zero emissions in 2050, and authorizes the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to establish an emissions limit of no less than 50% for 2030, and no less than 75% for 2040, the statement noted. In addition, the statement noted, the legislation authorizes EEA to establish emissions limits every five years and sublimits for at least six sectors of the Massachusetts economy: electric power; transportation; commercial and industrial heating and cooling; residential heating and cooling; industrial processes; and natural gas distribution and service.
The statement noted that the legislation statutorily defines Environmental Justice and environmental burdens, including climate change as an environmental burden. Furthermore, the statement noted, the legislation expands Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review to require an Environmental Impact Report for all projects that impact air quality within one mile of an Environmental Justice Neighborhood, and requires the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct a stakeholder process to develop a cumulative impact analysis as a condition of permitting certain projects. That change, the statement noted, would, for the first time, require the agency to evaluate not just individual project impacts, but also historic environmental pollution throughout the community through the permit process.
Among other things, the statement noted that the legislation builds upon the framework established in the administration’s 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap and Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030.
As noted in a Dec. 30, 2020, statement from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the 2050 Roadmap, for instance, outlines eight potential pathways to net zero emissions, including an analysis of potential energy resources, projected energy demand, and the energy supply necessary to meet the demand in all sectors of the economy, while meeting the 2050 emissions limit established by Massachusetts in April 2020.
In the April 22, 2020 “Determination of Statewide Emissions Limit for 2050,” Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, established the 2050 statewide emissions limit of net zero greenhouse gas emissions defined as a level of statewide greenhouse gas emissions that is equal in quantity to the amount of carbon dioxide or its equivalent that is removed from the atmosphere and stored annually by, or attributable to, the commonwealth; provided, however, that in no event shall the level of emissions be greater than a level that is 85% below the 1990 level.