If you missed the State Program Planning Meeting and the presentation by Launa Zimmaro, LWVMA Legislative Specialist for Environmental Issues, you can catch up with the notes below. Thanks to Bonnie Carter and Launa for the notes!
The LWVMA Admin will be continuing to add bills to the League website as they are vetted by the Committee and approved by the Board. The website is the best spot to get detailed information about bills LWVMA supports or opposes in all our advocacy areas. Members should click on the LWVMA Advocacy tab on the home page and check the drop-down menu to find the specific information they are interested in.
Links to articles about House Rules reforms and autocratic House control at end of notes.
Summary of comments: 3/3/19
- 6-7000 bills are filed every session in the MA State Legislature – an estimated 10% of those bills this session relate to energy and the environment or climate change
- Climate change bills under consideration for LWVMA support fall into four major categories based on bottom-line findings of the October 2018 IPCC Special Report and the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment: that urgent action is needed now and through the coming decade to reduce emissions by transitioning off fossil fuels:
- Carbon pricing
- Transitioning to clean, renewable energy
- Equity and environmental Justice
- A plan for how to achieve critical emissions reductions
Carbon pricing is a market-based approach that sets a fee, sometimes referred to as a carbon pollution fee, either on the cost of fuels that emit greenhouse gases or on the emissions themselves by capping emissions amounts from various sectors of the economy, referred to as a cap and trade or cap and invest program.
The League supports putting a price on carbon in any of its forms:
- Revenue neutral Fee and Rebate programs in which all revenue collected is returned to citizens to off-set cost increases
- Fee and Invest in which the state allocates some portion of revenue could be reinvested in programs that, for example, boost energy efficiency and/or promote clean, renewable energy programs and businesses
- Cap and Trade, also known as Cap and Invest. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is an example of a Cap and Trade Program used in Massachusetts to cap emissions from power plants. Revenue generated through RGGI has been used to promote and fund home energy audits and upgrades, etc.
For a detailed description of carbon pricing policies, please go to the Price on Carbon website which was developed and maintained by a national team of League members working on this League sanctioned site.
The League doesn’t take a position on how revenue generated is to be spent but does comment on bills.
Carbon pricing bills either approved or being considered by LWVMA follow. Bills refiled from last session are indicated with an R:
- BENSON BILL: H. 2810: An Act to promote green infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions, in TUE R
- BARRETT BILL: S. 1924: An Act to combat climate change, in TUE R
- Gives the decision to the governor but proposes disbursement of revenue as going: 60% to Transportation; 30% to school aide; 5% to environmental health and justice
- LWVMA concerned that suggested use of funds not consistent with need to mitigate climate change impacts
- GOVERNOR BAKER/EXECUTIVE BRANCH: Transportation and Climate Initiative Agreement (TCI) – A regional program
Has growing momentum and appears to be best opportunity to put a price on carbon for transportation fuels.
- Transportation and Climate Initiative Regional Agreement – nine states and D.C. have already signed-on; MA was one of the first to agree. Aims to reduce emissions from the transportation sector – largest source of emissions in the Commonwealth responsible for 39% of emissions
- Regional agreement promises greater level of reductions than achievable by single state, and sends strong transition signal to the auto and fossil fuel industry; also serves as model for other states
- Has supporting legislation: S. 2106: An Act to advance modern and sustainable solutions for transportation, Representative Lori Ehrlich and Senator Eric Lesser, in Committee on Transportation
- LWVMA WEBINAR ON TCI PLANNED FOR LATE APRIL; STAY TUNED!
Local, Clean, Renewable Energy
- ELDRIDGE BILL: S. 1958: An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100 per cent renewable energy, in Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) R
- CREEM BILL: S. 1940: An Act for utility transition to using renewable energy (FUTURE Act), in TUE
- Covers gas leaks, rate payer charges for infrastructure and reforms to Dept of Public Utilities to allow towns, legislators and gas customers to have more access and voice in decisions made.
- GOUVEIA / COMMERFORD BILL: H. 2865: An Act to establish a net zero stretch energy code, TUE
- Balser/Pacheco BILL: H.2802/S.2005: An Act to secure a clean energy future, TUE
Here is link to a good article about this bill. I believe this is the bill that Andrea Downs was referring to at the start of the meeting.
Equity and Environmental Justice
A key factor in advocacy support for all climate change, energy legislation.
- ELDRIDGE BILL: S.464: An Act relative to environmental justice and toxics reduction in the Commonwealth, in Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture (ENRA)
- Bill text: “The Environmental Justice Act is intended to promote environmental justice, eliminate disparities with respect to exposure to environmental toxins, ensure access to environmental benefits within the Commonwealth, and implement Article 97 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth, which provides that the “people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation, development and utilization of the agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air and other natural resources is hereby declared to be a public purpose.”
Roadmap: How we get “there” – a fossil free, clean energy future
- MESCHINO BILL: H.832: An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth, in Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) R
“Bill Summary: This bill would establish a new framework for the fair and efficient achievement of the Commonwealth’s climate goals by requiring Massachusetts to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to achieve our carbon emission reduction goals by 2050 while maintaining a thriving economy.”
“Why is this needed? In 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) established Massachusetts as a leader in climate change mitigation by committing the Commonwealth to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% below 1990 statewide emissions levels by 2050. But efforts to achieve the GWSA’s goals in the last ten years have been disjointed, and too often both short-sighted and ineffective. As a result, it remains unclear whether Massachusetts will meet its initial 2020 GHG emission reduction target. Massachusetts lacks a plan to reach its mid- and long-term carbon emission reduction goals. Newly released major climate reports expose the urgent need for more drastic action to reduce GHG emissions.”
Context: how the ma legislature operates
- Ex-lobbyist reveals how the House really works Phil Sego, Commonwealth Magazine, December 19, 2018
- LWVMA Action Alert to members to support rules reform this session, January 28, 2019
- House rules debate could get lively Andy Metzger and Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine, January 29, 2019
- House plays follow the leader: Massive vote switch shows how lawmakers do what DeLeo wants Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine, Feb. 12, 2019