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
Category Archives: Massachusetts
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 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
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
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
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
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
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:
- 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;…
Those wondering what states can do to at least partially ameliorate the impacts of West Virginia v. EPA need look no farther than Massachusetts, which issued its Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2025 and 2030 the same day that the Supreme Court extended its crusade against the modern world by limiting EPA’s authority to regulate in the absence of a clear delegation by Congress.
Take my predictions with a grain of salt, because I still remember saying that Ronald Reagan would never fool enough voters to get elected, but it seems very likely at this point that Maura Healey will be the next Governor of Massachusetts. That makes her release of a climate plan a matter of some significance.
My take is that it is extremely ambitious,… More
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
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
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
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
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
It’s not always the case, but my speculation about the Massachusetts climate bill was correct. On Friday, Governor Baker signed it into law. If I haven’t succeeded in making this clear previously, I want to emphasize that this is a really far-reaching piece of legislation. It commits Massachusetts to a very aggressive timetable for reducing GHG emissions. It species a number of specific policies,… More
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.
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
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 here, here, 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.”