The Massachusetts legislature passed a new climate bill Monday that overhauls state climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and creates clean energy jobs, according to a press release issued by the office of state Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro.
For the Island community, this bill will further support the initiatives of several local government entities and groups to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and shift toward alternative means of energy production.
The bill, An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, establishes a number of emissions-related and energy production goals, and for the first time, establishes a statutory criterion that defines environmental justice populations.
According to the release, the bill sets a 2050 net zero greenhouse gas emissions limit, as well as statewide limits every five years. It also increases the requirements for offshore wind energy procurement in Massachusetts to 5,600 megawatts.
Additionally, the state’s energy efficiency program, Mass Save, which incentivizes individuals and businesses to go green with home energy assessments and subsidies, is required to institute additional emission reduction goals under the new legislation.
Cyr said in the release that with the new bill, Massachusetts communities can work toward a solidified objective with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. “For Cape Codders and islanders, climate change isn’t some hypothetical threat, it’s very much real and existential to our way of life,” he said.
In the process of passing the legislation, Cyr said, “We advance justice for the communities who spent decades bearing the brunt of our collective environmental neglect,” referring to the codification of environmental justice provisions into state law that define environmental justice populations, and provide tools and protections for highly affected areas.
The release states that the bill also prioritizes equitable access to state solar incentive programs, particularly for low-income communities.
In a tweet, Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, wrote, “There is always more work to combat global warming & improve public health, & this is a big step.”
The new legislation must now be signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker.