As of late, climate work has felt all-consuming with unbalanced victories. Moments resembling the story of Sisyphus have plagued the movement for decades and many of us have grown weary. Much to my surprise, the summer’s end brought a remarkable response at state and federal levels to our long, hard-fought battle addressing the climate crisis as we passed historic climate bills in both sectors. While there is undoubtedly more work to do, pausing and taking a moment to reflect on what has been achieved before we head into another legislative session is not only necessary, it’s crucial for morale.
Let’s start with the Inflation Reduction Act which invests 369 billion in clean energy. This unprecedented investment should not go unnoticed, as it paves the way for electrification through grants, rebates, and tax credits. It will bolster innovation and technologies and make the United States' commitment to cut carbon emissions 40 % by 2030 a reality.
Here at home, An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind is less than 90 days away from becoming law (yes it was signed but it takes 90 days post signature). Check out the exciting list of provisions, including:
- A 350 Mass victory: Nearly $5000 in rebates, with an additional $1500 rebate for low-income individuals. Rebates available for those purchasing electric passenger cars and light duty vehicles less than $55,000. Provides rebates of at least $4500 for medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles and an extra $ 1. 000 those trading in their internal combustion engine vehicle. Offers rebates at point-of-sale.
- Requires the state to engage in intentional outreach for rebates provided especially in places with high amounts of air pollution and environmental justice communities
- Mandates all new cars sold in the state to be zero-emission starting 2035.
- Creates a council to develop and implement a plan for deploying EV charging infrastructure in an equitable and accessible manner and establishes a Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund.
- Calls for the MBTA bus fleet to be all-electric by 2040 and prioritizes routes that go through underserved communities.
- Requires distribution companies to submit proposals for time-of-use rates for charging EVs.
- Requires DPU to promulgate vehicle electrification and GHG emission regulations for transportation network companies.
- Allows ten municipalities to pilot fossil-free new construction and significant renovations, excluding life science labs, health care facilities, and hospitals, provided each community meets the 10% affordable housing standard; those towns include Arlington, Concord, Lexington, Cambridge, Brookline, Lincoln, West Tisbury, Aquinnah and Newton.
- Reforms ratepayer-funded efficiency programs by reducing incentives for fossil fuel equipment starting in 2025 and increasing accountability in the efficacy of energy efficiency services to low-income ratepayers and households.
- Expands solar by removing impediments to medium-sized solar developments and freeing solar arrays up to 25 kW from net metering cap restraints.
- Requires that large buildings (20,000 sq. ft. and larger) across Massachusetts report annual energy usage.
- Develops the Massachusetts offshore wind industry through infrastructure investment and workforce development.
- Mandates that the utility-controlled investigation into the “future of gas” and the state’s pipeline replacement program receive additional oversight.
- Biomass plants can longer qualify for clean energy incentives and is removed from the Renewable Portfolio Standard.
- Car dealership with stop selling new gasoline or diesel-powered cars after 2035
- Begining in 2030 the MBTA can only purchase zero emission buses and the overall fleet is required to be all electric by 2040.
Subsequently, what both the IRA and the DCEOW crystallize for me is the imprint of decades of climate activism, for they have unequivocally provided this victory. As stated, there is always more to do, but it is imperative that we fully absorb our successes to ensure our ability to make progress towards a sustainable, just world.
To that end, take the time to pause and celebrate, as the next battle for climate justice is just around the corner- and we need you.
Better Future Project
Those are vital questions, as they are not included in this new law. As I always describe it, this law is the runway, not the plane. The plane will be built during this legislative session through the bills that have been filed. Notably, the number of climate bills filed this session has increased astronomically compared to past years.
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