Massachusetts, Urge Gov. Baker to Sign Climate Bill

January 8, 2021
[Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office]
John Rogers
Energy Campaign Analytic Lead

Massachusetts’s next step on addressing climate change has made its way to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. The state legislature passed a solid climate-energy-justice bill this week that needs the governor’s signature now to become law. He should sign it, and needs to hear that from you.

We have a great bill…

Earlier this week, before incredible injustice and outrage and tragedy drew so much of our attention elsewhere, the Massachusetts legislature passed a strong piece of legislation on climate, clean energy, and environmental justice. While the bill was something we had hoped for and that many thousands of residents had demanded, the timing was unexpected. The “Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy,” which brought together important pieces of separate proposals passed by each chamber of the legislature, emerged Sunday from a the group of lawmakers tasked with crafting a shared bill. It passed both the House and the Senate the following afternoon—just a day before the legislature adjourned its 2019-2020 session for good.

The Next-Generation Climate bill contains a whole lot of good pieces. While the detailed accounting may wait till this process is done (I don’t want to jinx it), here’s a taste:

  • It would update the state’s landmark 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) target for reducing carbon pollution and other heat-trapping gases to net-zero by 2050 or earlier, add important interim targets for 2030 and 2040 (and, eventually, every five years) to keep us on track, and require specific reduction targets for different sectors of our economy.
  • It would propel more progress in clean energy, with provisions around energy efficiency, offshore wind, solar (including equity in access to solar), and more.
  • It would define in statute what constitutes an environmental justice population, and offer additional protections against environmental injustice. That matters for all of us, but especially for the many residents of Massachusetts, particularly people of color and lower-income households, who have for far too long borne disproportionate burdens from air pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and so much more.

So we have a great bill.

…but we need a law.

The bill would be quite a solid next step. But the “would” in that sentence and in each of the bullets above is intentional: Because a bill isn’t a law until the governor signs it.

That’s where we stand now. It’s up to Gov. Baker, and the countdown clock for his signature is quickly ticking down (he needs to sign by next Thursday, January 14).

The Next-Generation Climate legislation would in part solidify something Gov. Baker has already committed to (he updated the 2050 target to net-zero last year), making it law instead of just executive policy. Though the timing is coincidental, the bill from the legislature also comes on the heels of the Baker administration’s release, last week, of an important collection of pieces stemming from the 2008 GWSA. That included an analysis of options for getting to net-zero to 2050, and a draft “Clean Energy and Climate Plan” for progress over the next decade, all of which legislative backing can help make happen.

If the governor enacts it, this law will set us up for success in securing more clean air, more clean energy, and greater protections for all of us in Massachusetts, including the most vulnerable.

Tell Gov. Baker we’re counting on him

So we need that signature, and the governor needs to hear that from his constituents. If you live in Massachusetts, here are a few options:

  • E-mail him at [email protected]
  • Call him at 617-725-4005
  • Tweet at him via @MassGovernor

In a week of bleakness, the Next-Generation Climate bill is a ray of sunshine, a beacon of hope, for state action on climate change. It’s had a long journey up this point, and for the next steps on addressing at least one of the tremendous problems facing us as a society and a nation, we need it to get across the finish line. Let Gov. Baker know that today.

About the author

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John Rogers is a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists with expertise in clean energy technologies and policies and a focus on solar, wind, and natural gas. He co-managed the UCS-led Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative, a multi-year program aimed at raising awareness of the energy-water connection, particularly in the context of climate change, and motivating and informing effective low-carbon and low-water energy solutions.