Boston — With federal climate and clean energy programs facing an uncertain future, advocates launched a campaign for 100 percent renewable energy for Massachusetts today.
Supporters announced that the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, filed in January, had garnered 53 cosponsors in the House and Senate — more than a quarter of all members of the Legislature.
“Massachusetts has a proud history of clean energy leadership. Now, more than ever, it’s critical for us to lead the way,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “We can have cleaner air and water, healthier communities, and a safer planet for our children, but only if leaders on Beacon Hill step up and act.”
The bill, An Act transitioning Massachusetts to 100 percent renewable energy (SD. 1932, HD.3357), was filed by State Senator Jamie Eldridge and State Representatives Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker. It would put Massachusetts on a path to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035, and require other sectors, including heating and transportation, to be powered entirely with renewable energy by 2050.
If passed, it would be the most ambitious state-level clean energy commitment in the nation, and would make Massachusetts the first state to commit to 100 percent renewable energy economy-wide.
"Massachusetts has been a leader on alternative energy policy for over a decade, and now with federal assaults on efforts to combat climate change, it will be up to individual states to protect the environmental and health interests of the public," said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton). "Massachusetts, now more than ever, needs to be a leader on energy policy, and moving to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 will allow the Commonwealth to remain a beacon of hope in moving away from fossil fuels."
"This legislation provides a bold step by placing the Commonwealth on a path to a cleaner and more sustainable future," said Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington). "It encourages job creation, protects and sustains our natural resources, reduces our carbon footprint and would benefit the health and well-being of our citizens in immeasurable ways. More importantly, it signals to the country our commitment to long-term solutions in meeting the very real challenges of climate change, and lights the way for similar efforts across the nation. I am honored to have staunch allies in Representative Decker and Senator Eldridge."
"I am energized by the goals and ideas laid out in this bill," said Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge). "This signifies a tremendous opportunity to put the environment at the forefront of our public policy discussion. Representative Garballey, Senator Eldridge, and I proudly represent constituents who strongly advocate for renewable energy and I am pleased to provide legislative support to their work."
In recent months, major businesses, institutions, and cities across the country have committed to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. Google has announced it will source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2017. San Diego, the eighth largest city in the United States by population, has pledged to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
"We have the brains, private capital and innovation economy to create 100 percent of our healthy and renewable energy right here as we lead the world towards greater sustainability,” said Jim Boyle, Chairman and CEO of Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. “Tens of thousands of hard-hat jobs with a brilliant future hang in the balance. Massachusetts' public officials need to wake up and align with the world's fastest growing companies to make our state the global hub of this technology-based revolution."
Last year, the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center profiled 17 cities and towns in Massachusetts that are leading the way towards 100 percent renewable energy.
"Salem is committed to leading the way on clean energy, and that's why we recently committed to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy,” said Jeff Barz-Snell, chair of Salem’s Renewable Energy Task Force. “In Salem, local officials, business leaders, and citizens are working together to implement common-sense clean energy solutions. We hope to see other communities and state leaders follow our example."
The 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act would require the Department of Energy Resources to set binding targets for renewable energy growth in all major sectors of the economy, and issue regulations to ensure that Massachusetts stays on track towards 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The bill is designed to complement and strengthen the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2008, which requires the state to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The bill would also gradually increase the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), a state policy that requires utilities to purchase a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind, bringing it up to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.
In order to increase access to employment opportunities in solar, offshore wind, energy efficiency, and other clean energy technologies, the bill creates a Clean Energy Workforce Development Fund. At least half of the money from the fund must be spent to benefit residents of Gateway Cities, transitioning fossil fuel workers, and residents of environmental justice communities.
"In the Pioneer Valley, we're seeing the impacts of climate change firsthand, from this summer's severe drought to extreme snow and rain storms,” said Steve Linsky with Climate Action Now, a volunteer-led climate justice organization in the Pioneer Valley. “The need for Massachusetts to move quickly towards 100 percent clean, renewable energy has never been more clear."
President Trump has stated that dismantling the federal Climate Action Plan is among his top priorities, and his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, previously sued the agency to block limits on carbon pollution.
“Now is the time for Massachusetts to go big on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “Getting to 100 percent renewable energy is 100 percent possible — and it’s 100 percent necessary.”
Environment Massachusetts is the statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.