The Massachusetts League of Environmental Voters comes out with an “Environmental Scorecard” for each legislative year. During this past legislative year, one major environmental bill along with two smaller bills were passed and signed into law. Several anti-environmental amendments were also defeated in the legislature. Some examples of environmental successes include the passing of the Off-highway Vehicle Regulation (S. 2257), the Oil-Spill Prevention legislation (S. 4247), as well as the Creation of the Food Policy Council (H. 4568). The MLEV Environmental Scorecard’s voting score is determined by calculating the number of pro-environment votes cast out of the total votes scored. Legislators could receive extra points for sponsoring or co-sponsoring environmental bills. Representative Garballey received a score of 103% for his outstanding record on environmental issues and legislation in the Commonwealth. Representative Garballey is proud of his score and will look forward to working with the environmental community and fellow legislators in the future to advance more environmentally friendly bills into law.
Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category
The following is a brief summary of the legislation passed during this legislative session, the “greenest session on record”.
Global Warming Solutions Act
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
Under this new law, bold economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions limits will be set – up to 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent of those levels by 2050. Furthermore, the bill sets interim targets for 2030 and 2040 to facilitate hitting the 2050 level.
Tough new penalties will meet violators under the bill, with civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day for emission violations.
The heart of the legislation charges the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs with mapping a plan to achieve the 2020 emissions limit by creating new regulations for electricity generation, fuel supplies, heating and cooling of buildings, and vehicle emissions. The Secretary would also be required to establish an emissions registry and reporting system to monitor emissions in the Commonwealth by 2014.
In addition, the bill sets up a climate change adaptation advisory committee to examine how humans and plant and animal species will adapt to the reality of climate change.
The Oceans Act
Chapter 114 of the Acts of 2008
Massachusetts’ ocean waters are under increasing pressure from developers of ocean-based projects, including renewable energy facilities, desalinization plants and LNG terminals. This law creates a first-in-the-nation ocean planning process to safeguard our marine resources while also lifting the prohibition on the construction of renewable energy facilities in state ocean waters. The law establishes an ocean advisory commission and an ocean science advisory council to assist the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs during the ocean planning process. The law also ensures that existing uses of the ocean, like fishing and boating, are protected. Under the legislation, the Secretary must promulgate a final ocean plan by December 31, 2009.
Green Communities Act
Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008
This comprehensive energy reform package encourages energy efficiency and promotes the development of renewable energy resources. Under the new law, the state will make energy efficiency programs compete in the market with traditional energy supply. Utility companies will offer rebates and other incentives for customers to upgrade lighting, appliances, air conditioning, and industrial equipment to more efficient models, whenever those incentives cost less than generating the electricity it would take to power their older, less-efficient equipment. Energy efficiency programs have been shown to cost only 3 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to the 9 cents it takes to generate power.
The Green Communities Act promotes renewable energy in a number of ways. The law requires utility companies to enter into contracts with renewable energy developers to help developers of clean energy technology obtain financing to build their projects. The law also makes it possible for people who own wind turbines and solar-generated power to sell their excess electricity back into the grid (“net-metering”) at favorable rates, for installations of up to 2 megawatts (up from 60 kilowatts currently). In addition to these provisions, the law doubles the rate of increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard from 0.5 percent per year to 1 percent per year, with no cap. As a result, utilities and other electricity suppliers will be required to obtain renewable power equal to 4 percent of sales in 2009 – rising to 15 percent in 2020 and 25 percent in 2030, and more thereafter.
The law establishes a Green Communities Program, which will reward municipalities that make a commitment to efficiency and renewable energy. The program will receive $10 million in funding from a variety of sources, including emissions allowance trading programs, utility efficiency charges, alternative compliance payments generated by the Renewable Portfolio Standard, and the Renewable Energy Trust Fund.
The law also requires the State Board of Building Regulations and Standards to adopt the latest edition of the International Energy Conservation Code as part of the State Building Code. This will keep Massachusetts building standards at the highest international levels of energy efficiency.
The Green Communities Act codifies the Commonwealth’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cooperative regional program designed to limit carbon emissions from the region’s power plant sector. Emissions allowances issued under the program will be auctioned and the proceeds will go toward reimbursing municipalities that lose property tax receipts as a result of RGGI mandates, funding Green Communities, providing no-interest loans for municipal energy efficiency projects, and promoting energy conservation.
Green Jobs Bill
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
The “green jobs” bill establishes the Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center to serve as the state’s lead agency to promote and develop the clean energy sector. The Center will promote workforce training in the clean energy sector and provide support to existing clean energy companies in the Commonwealth through the establishment and administration of job growth grants.
The bill creates two types of job growth grants to be administered by the Center: Clean Energy Seed Grants and Green Jobs Initiative Grants. The Clean Energy Seed Grants will award funding to clean energy researchers and companies, non-profit and community-based organizations that seek to expand their organization and grow jobs. The Green Jobs Grant Initiative will award funding to higher education institutions and vocational technical schools to facilitate workforce development efforts.
Over the next year, the bill allocates $3.95 million to fund a clean energy industry study, operations at the Center, and three different green job growth programs that will be administered by the Secretary of Environmental Affairs, including the Pathways out of Poverty workforce development grant to train low and moderate income individuals for jobs in the clean energy sector.
The Center will also develop a state-wide plan for installation and operation of renewable energy generating facilities on state-owned property to advance the use of alternative energy and provide new opportunities for workforce development and training initiatives in communities across the state.
Chapter 206 of the Acts of 2008
This law is designed to encourage the manufacture and use of cellulosic biofuels in Massachusetts. It offers a tax break on the sale of gasoline that is blended with cellulosic biofuel. Cellulosic biofuels are defined as fuels made from agricultural materials that yield at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the tax incentive, the bill sets a mandate, which escalates by a full percentage point every year, on the amount of biofuel content that must be present in all home heating oil and diesel used in Massachusetts – achieving 5 percent utilization by 2013.
Environmental Bond Bill
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
The $1.78 billion environmental bond bill will preserve and improve the Commonwealth’s “green infrastructure” through targeted investments in open spaces, parks, beaches, and recreation facilities across Massachusetts. The bill provides over $600 million in borrowing authority for infrastructure and park assets, $250 million for design and construction of DCR-maintained bridges, and over $350 million for land conservation.
In addition to general authorizations, the bond bill includes funding for cities and towns to repair water infrastructure, acquire more open space, and maintain existing park properties. The bond will enable the Commonwealth to invest appropriately in our state’s environmental resources over the next half-decade.
Chapter 168 of the Acts of 2007
A lawsuit brought against the developers of the North Point project in Boston led to this legislation, which corrected a discrepancy between state law and regulation. Along the way, this new law provided additional protections to the Public Trust.
Chapter 91 is a regulatory program in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that protects the public’s right to access the waterfront of Great Ponds and the Ocean. When the Department took the cost-effective step of reducing this responsibility for waterfront land that had been filled in (such as the Back Bay) and therefore no longer strictly on-the-water, this left a hole in the regulation that the Legislature needed to authorize.
The Legislature took this important step, thereby clearing title for large swaths of real estate in Boston and other coastal areas, and also created an Office of the Public Trust to ensure that this lifting of a protection did not undervalue the public’s rights.
Chapter 47 of the Acts of 2008
This legislation phases out the sale of dishwasher detergent containing phosphorous. As a prime contributor to nutrient-loads in freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers, excessive phosphorous can lead to fish kills, algae, and poor clarity in freshwater sources. Alternatives to phosphorous exist and are available, and this legislation allows for a sufficient period for retailers to clear out their inventory before selling only the cleaner detergents.
Land Conservation Tax Incentives (EBB)
Outside Section to the Environmental Bond Bill, Pending Gubernatorial Approval
This legislation provides a state income tax credit to encourage landowners to donate property or to sell it for conservation at below the assessed value. This is a necessary tool for the state as we lose 40 acres of land every day to development. Undeveloped open-space land is important because it provides land for watershed protection, wildlife habitat, agriculture and forestry production, scenic and cultural value, and archaeological and historical resources.
Water Infrastructure Commission (EBB)
Outside Section to the Environmental Bond Bill, Pending Gubernatorial Approval
This legislation, attached as an outside section to the Environmental Bond Bill, creates a study commission to explore the issue of financing water infrastructure improvements. Communities in the Commonwealth are burdened by the high costs of paying for updated or expanded sewer systems, pipes, mains, and pumps. The commission will try to identify the problem, and offer up legislative solutions.
Dairy Farm Tax Credits
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
In 2007, the cost of producing milk in the Commonwealth exceeded the federally-mandated price at which farmers could sell their milk, leading the Commissioner of Agricultural Resources to declare a dairy emergency. A one-time $3.7M emergency fund was dedicated to preserving the state’s existing dairy farms, and a task force was assembled to address long-term solutions to the dairy crisis. The legislation includes a tax-credit that kicks in only on years when the cost of production exceeds the price of sale, and the establishment of a dairy promotion board.
Oil Spills in Buzzard’s Bay
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
This law would require all oil tankers that traverse Buzzard’s Bay to be accompanied by a rescue tug to help navigate the Bay. The legislation also adds 2 cents/gallon to the oil delivery fee charged to shippers to help pay for the rescue tug escorts.
Rose Kennedy Greenway Bill
Pending Gubernatorial Approval
This legislation transfers responsibility for the care and maintenance of the Rose Kennedy Greenway from the Turnpike Authority to the RK Greenway Conservancy. As a new, 15-acre park that cuts through the heart of Boston’s downtown neighborhoods, the Greenway will require significant upfront investment and care in the next decade. The Greenway bill ensures that this park is in good hands and has adequate funding to make all citizens of the Commonwealth proud.
Natural Heritage Funding
Line Item 2300-0300, Chapter 158 of the Acts of 2008
The Natural Heritage program provides data, research, and planning for land conservation and rare species preservation. The program was removed from the operating budget in 2004, and its costs were shifted to the capital budget. In this year’s annual operating budget the line item for the Natural Heritage program was restored, and funded at $250,000.
Submitted by Representative Frank I. Smizik’s Office
Medford’s legislative delegation announced the recent passage of two bills aimed at promoting environmental responsibility and growing the Commonwealth’s green energy industry. The Green Jobs Initiative and Global Warming Solutions Act place Massachusetts at the forefront in the fight against global warming and in support of renewable energy technologies.
“The cost of inaction in the fight against global warming is too great,” said Representative Carl Sciortino. “With passage of the biofuels bill, the green communities act, and now the green jobs initiative and the global warming solutions act, this legislature has taken bold steps to address this critical challenge.”
The Global Warming Solutions Act mandates a reduction in the amount of emissions put out in Massachusetts of 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent those levels by 2050. The bill sets interim targets for 2030 and 2040 to facilitate hitting the 2050 level. Tough new penalties will meet violators under the bill, with civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day for emission violations.
“Massachusetts has a unique opportunity to lead the way in green energy technology,” Senator Pat Jehlen said. “This bill will allow us to provide the carrots and sticks necessary to encourage businesses to be more efficient and to encourage creativity and innovation. This is a win-win for the state as we work to reduce green house gases, improve energy efficiency and develop emerging green technologies.”
The legislation would also charge the Secretary of Environmental Affairs with mapping a plan to achieve the 2020 emissions limit by creating new regulations for electricity generation, fuel supplies, heating and cooling of buildings, and vehicle emissions. The Secretary would also be required to establish an emissions registry and reporting system to monitor emissions in the Commonwealth by 2014.
“The evidence is clear that the burning of fossil fuels continues to take a dramatic toll on our environment, and pain at the pump will only worsen,” said Representative Paul Donato. “These environmental and consumer costs demand solutions and the House voted to make Massachusetts a part of the clean energy solution.”
The Green Jobs Initiative establishes the Massachusetts Clean Energy Technology Center to serve as the state’s lead agency to promote and develop the clean energy sector. The Center will promote workforce training in the clean energy sector and provide support to existing clean energy companies in the Commonwealth through the establishment and administration of job growth grants.
“We have a shared responsibility to make the world a better, healthier place to live for the next generation and for every generation that follows,” said Representative Sean Garballey. “Addressing Global Warming is a logical first step.”
The bill establishes two types of job growth grants to be administered by the Center: Clean Energy Seed Grant and Green Jobs Initiative Grant. The Clean Energy Seed Grant will award funding to clean energy researchers and companies, non-profit and community-based organizations that seek to expand their organization and grow jobs. The Green Jobs Grant Initiative will award funding to higher education institutions and vocational technical schools to facilitate workforce development efforts.
Submitted by Representative Carl Sciortino’s Office
HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES NATION-LEADING ENERGY REFORM PACKAGE
Bold reform will reduce dependence on foreign oil, increase use and production of clean energy
State Representatives Paul J. Donato (D-Medford) Carl M. Sciortino, Jr. (D-Medford) and Sean Garballey (D-Arlington, West Medford) announced that the Massachusetts House of Representatives has unanimously approved a comprehensive, best in the nation energy reform bill that will reduce the Commonwealth’s use of foreign oil, increase use and production of cleaner, more renewable energy and help save costs at a critical time for consumers.
“As a member of his leadership team, I am pleased to support Speaker DiMasi in this courageous energy reform legislation,” said Representative Donato. “This comprehensive legislation puts the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the forefront on the most important issue.”
“I have long made energy conservation a priority,” said Representative Sciortino. “This bill takes important steps towards easing the cost of energy for all of us while promoting environmentally responsible alternatives.”
“The energy crisis impacts every home, every business, and every person in the Commonwealth. We have taken a major step toward energy reform in Massachusetts” said Representative Sean Garballey of Arlington. “I am delighted to be part of this collaboration.”
The bill’s lead author, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said, “Bold energy reform was my top priority this session and we have produced a nation-leading law that will reduce our reliance on foreign oil and encourage the production and use of more sustainable, renewable energy that can save us all money in the years to come. I am very pleased to have worked with such a broad coalition of stakeholders to make my original bill far stronger and I thank them, particularly the members of the House, Senate President Murray, Governor Patrick and his energy Secretary Ian Bowles, for their hard work.”
“With the cost of energy skyrocketing, this legislation comes at a critical time and puts Massachusetts at the forefront of clean energy policies and the development of alternative fuel sources,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “With this landmark legislation, the Commonwealth will tip the scales away from fossil fuels in favor of more efficient and affordable energy alternatives. Emerging technologies and conservation are major parts of this effort, and Massachusetts will lead the way.”
Ian Bowles, Governor Patrick’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs added, “I congratulate the Legislature for bringing this landmark piece of legislation to fruition. I commend particularly Speaker DiMasi for his early leadership, and Senate President Murray for working with him, Governor Patrick, and myself to move Massachusetts toward a clean energy future. This bill makes sweeping changes to the electricity marketplace. It will provide a huge boost to renewable power generation, give consumers major new tools to reduce their energy costs, cut our greenhouse gas emissions and launch a new wave of clean energy technologies. We look forward to implementing it.”
The bill originally unveiled by Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi in December 2006 was redrafted over several months with Senate President Murray, Governor Patrick, the energy industry, environmentalists and other key stakeholders.
The Green Communities Act will place a renewed focus on cost-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the Commonwealth. The bill retains many important provisions in the final legislation passed in the House in November and Senate in January after months of work by legislators, the administration and coalitions of environmental, business and energy industry leaders.
The bill places a focus on “Efficiency First Energy Procurement,” and requires distribution companies to consider all available energy resources when purchasing power. It also mandates that the state’s electric companies purchase the most cost-effective and stable resources, with the goal of procuring all cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation, prior to the acquisition of more expensive supply from traditional sources.
On a local level, the bill charges the new Division of Green Communities, under the newly-elevated Department of Energy Resources, to establish a green communities program to give cities and towns the opportunity to take advantage of loans and grants provided by the state to finance the cost of energy efficiency improvements and renewable and alternative energy projects.
“This effort represents the collaboration of a broad coalition of support for clean energy technologies and energy efficiency that will benefit ratepayers and allow us to continue to meet our energy demands,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “Initiatives such as the Green Communities Program will be key to advancing the clean energy goals of the Commonwealth.”
The bill also revamps the existing Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund, housed within the Massachusetts Technology Park Collaborative. The Fund, still under the direction of the Collaborative, will now be directly overseen and administered by a Governing Board, chaired by the Commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources. The new Board will be charged with ensuring that funds will be used to generate the maximum economic and environmental benefits from renewable energy to the ratepayers of the Commonwealth through initiatives which utilizes the advantages of renewable energy in a more competitive energy marketplace.
Also established in the bill is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Auction Trust Fund, consisting of funds recovered through carbon dioxide allowance auctions. Massachusetts joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cooperative effort by Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon dioxide emission, in January 2007. Funds from these auctions, deposited into the trust, will be used for projects like the green communities program and the promotion of energy efficiency, conservation and demand response.
The proposal also amends the current renewable energy portfolio standard and creates a second tier to assist our regions existing renewable resources while we continue to promote new renewable energy to come online. Class I eligible technologies will include new and incremental renewable generation while the second tier, Class II, is created to include existing renewable generation.
Other portions of the bill include provisions that:
• Direct the state to replace state-owned and operated vehicles with more fuel-efficient vehicles.
• Direct the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish a program whereby homeowners or tenants can purchase renewable energy products for the home with no up-front payment, and pay them off monthly on their utility bill.
• Establish a 5-year pilot program, requiring distribution companies to enter into cost-effective renewable energy contracts, over 10 to 15 years, to help eliminate a barrier in the financing of renewable energy generation in the Commonwealth.
• Codify the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate under the Attorney General to intervene in proceedings on behalf of Massachusetts ratepayers.
• Encourage net metering to promote on-site generation through financial incentives.
• Establish a commission to examine the environmental and economic impact of instituting a green building plan for the Commonwealth.
The Green Communities Act, also unanimously approved by the Senate, was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick and is now Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008.
Provided by Representative Paul J. Donato’s Office
House Unanimously Passes Bold Biofuels Bill
Legislation introduces first-in-the-nation gas tax exemption for cellulosic biofuel, calls for biodiesel blending of home heating oil sold in Massachusetts
BOSTON— Representatives Paul J. Donato (D-Medford), Carl M. Sciortino, Jr. (D-Medford) and Sean Garballey (D- Arlington, West Medford) and their colleagues in the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to encourage the development of advanced biofuels in the Commonwealth. The legislation, unveiled by House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray last November, aims to promote the use of advanced biofuels through a first-in-the-nation state gas tax exemption on cellulosic biofuel, based on the percentage of renewable fuel used, and mandated blending of advanced biofuels with traditional diesel and heating fuel.
“The evidence is clear that the burning of fossil fuels continues to take a dramatic toll on our environment, and pain at the pump will only worsen as the price of gasoline exceeds fours dollars a gallon. These environmental and consumer costs demand solutions and the House voted to make Massachusetts a part of the clean energy solution,” said Representative Donato.
“We need to be exploring every way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and provide relief to working families,” said Representative Sciortino. “This legislation works to accomplish both of those goals.”
“We sincerely hope that this bill will help consumers, help the environment and help stimulate interest in the development and use of alternative forms of energy,” said Representative Garballey.
“As the price of crude oil approaches $200 dollars a barrel and the environment continues to be a casualty of our fossil fuel consumption, it is imperative that we change the way we produce, consume, and deliver energy in the Commonwealth. Today the House has taken another meaningful step toward comprehensive energy reform that will preserve our environment, ultimately drive down consumer energy costs and bolster Massachusetts growing clean energy sector,” said Speaker DiMasi (D-Boston).
“It addresses climate change by encouraging the use of less carbon intensive fuels as substitutes for gasoline, home heating oil and diesel fuel. Emissions from the transportation sector make up more than 30 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions, so this is an important step,” said Representative Frank Smizik (D-Brookline), House Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and member of the Advanced Biofuels Task Force.
“This bill will allow for the Commonwealth to develop the framework to advance the biofuels sector while seizing the economic, energy and environmental benefits of this emerging technology,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill), House Chair of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. “Biofuels will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions while offering significant opportunities for economic development and job creation.”
“Oil dependence exacts a huge toll on the Massachusetts economy. Consumers spend more on petroleum every year than natural gas and electricity combined, and 80 cents of every dollar spent on gasoline exits the local economy,” said Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of the New Fuels Alliance. “This bill puts Massachusetts on the map as a national leader in the effort to commercialize advanced biofuels, and is good news for those interested in seeing something other than oil at the pump.”
The bill calls for a reduction in the state’s gasoline sales tax, currently 21 cents per gallon, in proportion to the amount of biofuel in each gallon of gasoline. According to the Advanced Biofuels Task Force Report, issued in April, this incentive will encourage fuel purchasers to buy advanced biofuels once they are on the market and reduce the risk associated with investing in biofuels production.
In addition to the tax incentive, the bill sets a mandate, which escalates by a full percentage point every year, on the amount of biofuel content that must be present in all home heating oil and diesel used in Massachusetts – achieving 5 percent utilization by 2013. Advocates of advanced biofuels say that this type of mandate will help to develop the infrastructure needed to break the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and encourage the development of a biofuels industry.
Under the legislation, all qualifying fuels must achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.
The environment and economy will benefit from this legislation, advocates said. According to the Advanced Biofuels Task Force Report, Massachusetts could stand to gain 1,000 to 4,000 permanent “green collar” jobs by encouraging the development of a biofuels industry in Massachusetts. In addition, the industry could contribute up to $1 billion in revenue to the state’s economy.
Provided by Representative Paul J. Donato’s Office
Update: Governor Patrick will sign the the biofuels bill today, Monday, July 28 at 12:30.