We celebrated a big victory this spring, when the Massachusetts legislature overwhelmingly passed a landmark climate roadmap bill, and Gov. Baker finally signed it into law. Many years in the making, the bill was made possible by a diverse and powerful coalition of citizen advocates, analysts, and legislators, and 350 Mass played a central role. As Senator Mike Barrett noted on Twitter, “the grassroots climate movement of MA is a force to be reckoned with.”
As we celebrate this progress, we can’t let up. Many parts of the new law direct the Massachusetts executive branch - especially the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) - to create and implement detailed plans to achieve the bill’s targets and requirements. In other words, we’re relying on Gov. Baker and his appointees to follow through and stay true to the bill’s intent.
What could go wrong?
Between passage and reality lies what Leah Stokes calls “the fog of enactment”: a long, quiet process in which the language of bills is converted into the specificity of laws, and where interest groups and other actors can organize to gut even the strongest legislation. This is where wins can become losses; where historic legislative achievements can be turned into desultory, embarrassing failures.
--- Ezra Klein, “How a climate bill becomes reality,” Vox, Oct. 6 2020
The climate roadmap bill’s passage is just one step. We must keep up the pressure and stay vigilant about how our new climate roadmap laws are implemented. We must be ready to take on continued lobbying by utilities and other powerful interests to water down and slow-walk the bill’s implementation.
Watch our June 14 webinar with the Brown University researchers behind the bombshell 2021 report “Who’s Delaying Climate Action in MA? Twelve Findings” and MA state rep Mike Connolly, to discuss how we’ll win against the lobbyists.
What specifically will be happening next with the climate roadmap law? See Sen. Barrett’s handy summary of the calendar. One of the first dates is coming up: by July 15, the EEA Secretary will set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for Mass Save’s energy programs. We hope this target will mean an end to incentives to install gas-fueled heating systems, no matter how energy-efficient, and lead to new and improved incentives to electrify everything in our homes. A stronger emissions reduction target will set up Mass Save to play a key role in the 350 Mass campaign Bringing the Green New Deal Home, with the central mission of electrifying and retrofitting 1 million homes in Massachusetts by 2030.
Over the next year, stay tuned as more pieces of the roadmap law are put into practice: funding clean energy workforce training, setting emissions limits for 2025 that will keep Massachusetts on track for 50% reduction by 2030, and the definition and rollout of the “specialized stretch energy code” that lets cities go all in on net-zero buildings.
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