Here’s Another Nice Mess: Executive Order 562 Claims Its First Victim

Last Friday, I posted about Governor Baker’s Executive Order 562, which requires cost-benefit analysis, cost effectiveness analysis – and more – before state agencies can promulgate regulations.  It took less than a week before it became clear that EO 562 has real teeth.  Yesterday, MassDEP sent out a one-paragraph notice delaying hearings on its proposed Clean Energy Standard, citing EO 562 as the reason:

MassDEP is postponing the hearings and comment period on the proposed Clean Energy Standard rule until it has completed the reviews required under the recent Executive Order 562.

It will be interesting to see if EO 562 comes back to bite the Baker administration in this instance.  I don’t think that there is an environmental economist around who would argue that the Clean Energy Standard is a more efficient way to attain the GHG reduction targets in the Global Warming Solutions Act than a carbon tax would be.  On its face, EO 562 does not limit an agency’s consideration of alternatives to those which are within its statutory authority.

What does the Baker administration do if MassDEP finds that some further restrictions on GHG emissions are necessary for the Commonwealth to meet the GWSA targets, but that a carbon tax is a better way to get there than the CES would be?

That would be a nice mess the EO would have gotten them into.

3 thoughts on “Here’s Another Nice Mess: Executive Order 562 Claims Its First Victim

  1. Charlie Baker is a moderate conservative, a New England republican. This means that he is not an activist but it does not preclude him from exhibiting progressive tendencies. The aggregated resumes of his energy team tell us where he will take MA energy policy. The proposed MA Clean Energy Standard was never going to see the light of day under Governor Baker. The Executive Order, however, does provide an opportunity to move away from the proposed CES to a less activist approach in a way that garners political support from moderates and non activist progressives. I predict that Governor Baker will move to an “all of the above” approach, whether it is through an amended CES proposal or some other mechanism. Specifically, he will hedge natural gas against Canadian Hydro; we will get some of both. His support for natural gas will the conditioned on having an optimum ( just right) amount of pipeline capacity committed to power plants; just enough to negate the excessive spiking of natural gas and electricity prices during polar vortex events. He will support an amount of Canadian Hydro that both helps stabilize the grid and also brings on enough new north-south (N-S) transmission to allow wind generated in Canada and northern New England to satisfy RPS requirements in MA, CT and RI. He will in essence jump on the Governor Malloy “band wagon” which pushes both more natural gas and Canadian Hydro with new N-S transmission for CT. Whether he proposes to amend the MA RPS statue to include large hydro into the RPS as CT has done remains to be seen.

    Governor Baker’s moderate progressive approach will dovetail nicely into a State Implementation Plan that meets EPA requirements of a court tested Clean Power Plan, when we eventually get one.

  2. The energy generation and distribution sector reduced GHG emissions by approximately 49% since the 1990 baseline year. There is more reduction to do and granted, much of this reduction is due to the elimination of older generation and coal from our regions generation mix. My take is the Clean Energy Standard should do two things, first create a penalty if you don’t achieve a GHG reduction standard and second provide an alternative to the penalty. There is no way new large scale hydro and nuclear will be built anytime soon in ISO-NE. If there is no viable alternative the penalty is only a tax.

  3. Pingback: MA Guv subverts state’s national enviro leadership status- The Climate Minute Podcast | Mass Climate Action Network (MCAN)

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