The Massachusetts Climate Bill is Very Much “Not Dead”

In January, when Governor Baker vetoed the Legislature’s effort to go big on climate, my colleague Zach Gerson made clear that the bill was not even “mostly dead.”  I am pleased to say that Zach’s diagnosis was correct.  The climate bill is very much alive.

Last week, the Legislature passed a new version of the bill, which adopted most of the Governor’s technical suggestions and almost none of his substantive changes.  As a result, my summary of the important elements of the bill in January remains largely accurate.

To me, there are only two even arguably significant substantive changes from what the Legislature passed in January:

  • The Legislature gave the Governor perhaps a slice – definitely not even half of loaf – of what he asked for with respect to the development of a net-zero stretch energy code that municipalities could adopt as a local option.  The new bill still requires development of the net-zero stretch code.  However, it now allows 18 months, rather than 12, for development of the code.  It also provides that the Department of Energy Resources may phase in the requirements of the net-zero code.
  • In a move to further enshrine environmental justice principles in MassDEP permitting decisions, the bill would require MassDEP “to propose regulations to include cumulative impact analyses for defined categories of air quality permits.”

It’s not totally clear at this point whether the Governor will sign the bill.  If you were to ask me to speculate, I’d predict yes.  More importantly, the Governor’s signature is irrelevant (which is part of my reasoning for predicting that he will sign it).  If the Governor were to veto the bill, the likelihood of an override would be approximately 100%.

And since Zach admitted to using the “mostly dead” reference in part to justify use of a Princess Bride reference, I leave you with this – one of my favorites, if not quite as heartwarming as the Princess Bride.

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