Mass. legislators, advocates celebrate major new climate law

Media Contacts
Chairman Jeffrey Roy and Senator Marc Pacheco join MASSPIRG, lawmakers and environmental organizations to celebrate passage of new climate law.

BOSTON – Leaders of environmental and civic organizations joined elected officials Thursday across the street from the State House to celebrate the passage of major climate legislation.

The new climate law will reduce energy waste, ramp up the growth of wind and solar power, and help transition Massachusetts’ buildings and transportation system from fossil fuels to clean energy. Following months of work by legislative leaders, including energy committee chairs Rep. Jeff Roy and Sen. Mike Barrett, Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law last week.

“I am proud not only of the collaboration between the House, Senate, and administration but also of the commitment shown by all stakeholders to spare no effort in ensuring comprehensive climate legislation was signed into law this year,” said state Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy, House chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “The legislation is carefully calibrated to attract robust clean energy, world-class manufacturing facilities, intensive workforce training initiatives, and the investments — financial and otherwise — necessary to prepare our electric distribution system for the energy needs of the future. And it puts us on the path to achieve the goals the Commonwealth set with the Roadmap bill, while helping us avoid the worst effects of climate inaction.”

“This one was tough, said state Sen. Michael J. Barrett, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.  “More than once, the fight to pass legislation of real consequence appeared lost, but Massachusetts grassroots activists kept at it. I am deeply grateful to you. The rescue, in the same amazing 10-day period, of a federal bill and a state bill, both monumental but both beleaguered and seemingly near death, marks an amazing turnaround in the battle for a livable climate. After this, we must never lose hope and never let up.”

The new law will allow up to 10 cities and towns to require all-electric heating systems and appliances in new buildings. Earlier in the week, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced that she would push to have her city included among those 10 communities.

“It’s not often you get a win-win-win, but this new law does exactly that: It gives us a cleaner environment, better choices for consumers, and a way to improve public health through greener sources of energy and transportation,” said Janet Domenitz, executive director of MASSPIRG.

“This bill gives me hope that we can work together to build a future where all of us can thrive,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. “We’re thrilled for our Commonwealth to play a key role in building a world powered by 100% clean energy.”

“By signing into law An act driving clean energy and offshore wind, Massachusetts has taken a major step towards solidifying its position as a national leader in the development of offshore wind here in the United States,” said Jen Benson, president of the Alliance for Business Leadership. “The Alliance for Business Leadership was proud to lead a delegation of business leaders to Denmark this summer to see what leading in offshore wind looks like. We are thrilled to see diversity and inclusion language included in the new law and look forward to supporting implementation of this landmark legislation.”

The law will help reduce fossil fuel consumption and promote the switch to clean energy technologies across every major sector of energy use in Massachusetts:

  • By 2035, 100% of the cars sold in Massachusetts will be electric vehicles (EVs).
  • The owners of large buildings — such as office and apartment buildings, hospitals, and universities — will be required to disclose their energy use each year, a critical first step toward making these buildings more energy-efficient.
  • The MBTA must transition to an all-electric bus fleet, and state agencies will help regional transit authorities (RTAs) adopt electric buses.
  • More of our electricity will come from renewable sources because there will be fewer arbitrary obstacles standing in the way of solar and offshore wind projects.
  • A new pilot program will retrofit low- to moderate-income housing to be energy efficient and use clean, all-electric heating and appliances.

“This sweeping climate legislation takes us that much closer to achieving our climate goals,” said Susannah Hatch, director of clean energy policy for the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “We and our partners in the New England for Offshore Wind coalition were particularly thrilled to see the strong provisions for offshore wind. This legislation will provide critical investments needed to bring offshore wind to the scale needed to combat climate change and will ensure that it is developed equitably and responsibly.”

“After five years of lobbying, solar advocates have successfully won several major policy changes to allow for net zero homes to be built without being constrained by an arbitrary 10-kilowatt limit to residential solar system sizes, to allow for multiple solar projects on a single parcel of land, to allow grazing and planting vegetables alongside dual use solar arrays, and to encourage pollinator-friendly plantings around solar arrays to support bees!” said Haskell Werlin of MassSolar.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, including historic investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. Advocates said this federal legislation will help bring the goals in Massachusetts’ new climate law within reach.