Category Archives: Massachusetts

New Report Details Massachusetts Whole-of-Government Approach to Climate Crisis

Yesterday, Massachusetts Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer issued a report detailing how “to implement the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing the climate crisis.” The report identifies trends, barriers, and gaps in Massachusetts climate policy, establishes guiding principles for whole-of-government climate action, and offers recommendations to strengthen the “climate-related practices and policies of executive department agencies.” The recommendations represent a roadmap for the state to implement its climate goals while enhancing public health,… More

Boston Bans Fossil Fuels in New and Renovated City Buildings

On July 31, 2023, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu signed an executive order ending the use of fossil fuels in new construction and major renovations of city-owned buildings. Although city buildings comprise a small percentage of overall carbon emissions in Boston, the new executive order aligns with larger efforts to decarbonize both publicly and privately owned buildings throughout Boston.

The executive order covers both new city buildings and renovation projects affecting 75% or more of a city building’s square footage.… More

Proposed NEPA Rules Address Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Efficiency of Environmental Reviews

On July 28, 2023, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposed reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations governing how federal agencies review the environmental effects of major federal projects. The proposed rules follow amendments to NEPA itself that were enacted in June 2023 through the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which addressed, among other things, the federal debt ceiling.… More

The Wharf District Council “District Protection & Resiliency Plan”: There’s a Lot to Do

The Wharf District Council recently released its “District Protection and Resiliency Plan.”  My immediate reaction is just a quiet OMG regarding the size of the task.  Of course, that’s no excuse for inaction and I found the plan to be quite compelling. 

The Wharf District runs from Christopher Columbus Park to the Congress Street bridge.  Its landward boundary is basically Congress Street. … More

Next Up for Massachusetts Building Emissions Reductions: Tackling the Clean Heat Challenge

This week, the Massachusetts Commission on Clean Heat released its final report.  The report seeks to establish a framework for a long-term reduction in emissions from heating fuels, to align with the Commonwealth’s emissions reduction target of net zero by 2050 and the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap.

According to the 2050 Roadmap, on-site combustion of fossil fuels in the residential and commercial building sectors presently accounts for about 27% of statewide greenhouse gas emissions,… More

Some “Big Lifts” For Boston to Achieve Its Climate Goals

Earlier this Month, The Boston Foundation released its “Inaugural Boston Climate Progress Report.”  Suffice it to say, there’s a lot to do.  The Report identifies four “Big Lifts” necessary to attaining our climate goals.  It defines a Big Lift as:

a multidecade mega-project that seeks to improve the city to align with its climate and equity goals.

The four Big Lifts are:

  • Retrofitting the small building stock
  • Local energy planning for an electrified city
  • Building a resilient coastline through improved governance
  • Prioritizing reparative planning for Boston’s frontline neighborhoods

All of these are important and each is worth its own post. … More

DOER Issues an Updated Stretch Code – Are Net-Zero Energy Buildings Really Coming Soon?

Massachusetts will soon see significant updates to the energy codes that govern the construction and alteration of buildings throughout the Commonwealth.   As required by the 2021 climate bill,

the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has recently finalized regulations updating the current Stretch Energy Code, previously promulgated by the state’s Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS), and establishing a new Specialized Code geared toward achieving net-zero building energy performance.… More

Massachusetts to Require Disclosure of Energy Usage from Large Buildings

Lost amid the more high profile items in Massachusetts’ recently enacted Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind is a requirement that the Department of Energy Resources establish a program requiring large buildings across the Commonwealth to report energy usage on an annual basis.   The requirement goes into effect on July 1, 2024, but DOER has an additional year (until July 1, 2025) to draft implementing regulations and establish the parameters of the reporting program.  … More

Coming soon to Massachusetts cities and towns: all electric buildings

As we’ve discussed before, multiple cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have tried to ban fossil fuel hookups for new buildings by zoning or other ordinance over the past few years.  But in July 2020, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Municipal Law Unit struck down the first such ban that came across its desk as inconsistent with other state law.  As we noted then, in order for municipalities to restrict or ban fossil fuel connections,… More

Massachusetts Clean Energy Bill Turbocharges the Adoption of Zero Emission Vehicles and Clean Transportation

Based on numerous sources, Governor Baker has now signed an Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind.  This bill includes a number of key advancements for increased adoption of zero emission vehicles and clean transportation throughout the Commonwealth.  The law:

  1. Outlaws the sale of internal combustion vehicles by any dealership after January 1, 2035 by making it an unfair or deceptive act or practice under Chapter 93A;…
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Boston Promulgates BERDO “Phase I” Regulations: Emissions Standards For Buildings Are Coming Soon

The Boston Air Pollution Control Commission has formally adopted its “Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance Phase 1 Regulations.”  The Phase 1 regulations are really all about the “disclosure” side of BERDO.  The “reduction” side will be addressed by the Phase 2 regulations, which at this point are scheduled to be completed by the winter of 2023. 

The final Phase 1 regulations largely track the draft released late last year. … More

BERDO Implementation Picks Up Speed — Better Get Ready

On Monday, Boston released a draft of the first phase of regulations intended to implement the amended BERDO ordinance signed by then-Mayor Janey in October

The first phase of the regulations is focused only on reporting issues.  It will address

  • Reporting Requirements
  • Third-Party Data Verification Requirements
  • Preservation of Records

The rationale for this narrow focus is that the City wants these regulations in place promptly,… More

Massachusetts Claims Against ExxonMobil Survive — Wave of the Future or Litigation Sideshow?

This week, Judge Karen Green denied Exxon Mobil’s motion to dismiss claims brought by Massachusetts under its Consumer Protection Act. The complaint alleges that Exxon Mobil both mislead Massachusetts investors in its marketing to them of Exxon Mobil securities and mislead Massachusetts consumers in its marketing of its products to those consumers.  Judge Green rejected Exxon Mobil’s arguments that it was not subject to jurisdiction in Massachusetts with respect to these claims. … More

TCI Update: Final Model Rule Addresses EJ, but Political Will May Be Lacking

On June 10, 2021, the Transportation Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) states released a final model rule creating a regional cap-and-trade-program to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. We wrote about the draft model rule and its implementation challenges when it was released at the beginning of March. Now, after a two-month stakeholder engagement process, the jurisdictions working to implement the program ask stakeholders to weigh in on the guidance documents,… More

Federal Offshore Wind Plan Boosts State Efforts in Massachusetts

As President Biden announces his blueprint for expanding the use of offshore wind (OSW) power, Massachusetts hopes to become an industry hub. Those plans will certainly be facilitated by the new federal OSW policies.

On March 29, the Biden administration published a major plan to mobilize offshore wind development, particularly along the East Coast. The plan aims to construct 30,000 megawatts of OSW generation by 2030,… More

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. … More

The Transportation Climate Initiative Marches Forward; It’s Not Going to Be Easy.

On March 1, the Transportation Climate Initiative jurisdictions released a draft “model rule” that would provide a template for individual state rules governing the operation of the TCI Program.  Although only three states and the District of Columbia committed in December 2020 to implement TCI-P, the announcement on Monday indicated that the model rule “was developed by twelve” TCI jurisdictions.”  I guess that eight states like the model rule – just not enough at this point to commit to implementing it.… More

There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

Sometimes, “mostly dead” is just a pause before successfully storming the castle.  On January 14, Governor Baker vetoed the climate bill that passed the Massachusetts Legislature on January 4 with overwhelming support (see our posts herehere, and here).  I couldn’t resist the Princess Bride reference, but despite the veto, it is probably a stretch to refer to the bill as even “mostly dead.”

In his Veto Letter,… More