Today, following years of advocacy by environmental groups and allies, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill that will take several important steps toward a healthier future powered by renewable energy:
- Energy efficiency standards for appliances and plumbing fixtures. By cutting the amount of energy we waste, these standards will reduce global warming pollution by an estimated 113,000 metric tons per year by 2025, equivalent to taking 24,000 cars off the road.
- A requirement for at least 40% of Massachusetts’ electricity to come from clean, renewable sources by 2030. This increase to the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) represents a significant bump-up in Massachusetts’ renewable electricity commitments, equivalent to installing another 200,000 solar roofs over the next ten years.
- An increase in Massachusetts’ offshore wind commitments, requiring utilities to buy an additional 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind energy.
The bill will also ensure greater protections for environmental justice communities and empower cities and towns to set higher energy efficiency requirements for new buildings.
In the race to 100% renewable energy, this legislation won't bring us all the way to the finish line — but it will help us take a few big steps out of the starting blocks.
We’re celebrating this bill for the significant progress it represents, and we're urging legislators to take further action on clean energy this session. I want to share a few highlights from our recent work to persuade state leaders to pass strong clean energy and climate legislation.
Pushing for strong action on clean energy
Environment Massachusetts and our coalition partners have worked for years to put Massachusetts on a path to 100% renewable energy. In the 2019-2020 legislative session, we supported a bill filed by Rep. Marjorie Decker and Rep. Sean Garballey to transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and 100% renewable energy for heating and transportation by 2045. The Decker/Garballey 100% Renewable Energy Act was endorsed by a majority of legislators, along with more than 50 environmental organizations and dozens of business leaders and local elected officials.
Last June, we heard credible reports that House leaders were considering advancing a much weaker bill that would set a target of “net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” while doing little to increase renewable energy generation or reduce the use of fossil fuels in the short term. We swung into action, working with grassroots activists, civic leaders, and energy experts to push for a robust policy to achieve 100% renewable energy:
- We worked with doctors and medical students to organize a virtual lobby day and deliver a letter signed by dozens of their peers affirming the urgent need to transition to 100% renewable energy to protect public health.
- More than 150 city and town officials signed a joint statement calling for action on 100% renewable energy legislation.
- Academics, business leaders, and clean energy experts helped explain to legislators how a transition to 100% renewable energy is both feasible and necessary, and why a “net zero emissions” target is inadequate.
- We released a report describing the resources, technologies, and ideas that will help Massachusetts achieve 100% renewable energy.
- Together with MASSPIRG Students and partners in the Mass Power Forward coalition, we organized a week of action that generated hundreds of social media posts, phone calls, and emails asking legislators to act. We also helped activists publish letters to the editor in their hometown newspapers supporting 100% renewable energy legislation.
On July 29, House leaders unveiled a bill that I described as bringing a “toy squirt gun” to the five-alarm fire of climate change. We supported key amendments to strengthen the bill, while keeping up a flood of phone calls and emails into legislators’ offices.
While we didn’t succeed at getting a 100% renewable energy commitment added to the bill, we did win several important amendments, including an increase to the RPS, appliance efficiency standards, and expanded offshore wind procurements. The result was a bill that fell short of what’s needed to protect public health and prevent the worst impacts of climate change, but included several praiseworthy steps in the right direction.