Massachusetts Climate Bill Heads to Governor Baker’s Desk After Last-Minute Senate and House Approval

The Massachusetts Legislature on Sunday passed climate legislation that requires all new vehicle sales in the state to be zero emissions beginning in 2035, reduces the state’s reliance on natural gas and requires a study on medium-sized energy storage systems. and long lasting. The bill passed the state Senate and House of Representatives on Sunday, the last day the legislature was authorized to meet formally. session, meaning lawmakers cannot override a possible veto by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

Baker refused to sign an earlier version of the legislation and sent it to lawmakers with various amendments.

Lawmakers “agreed on a common provision of Governor Baker’s several proposed amendments to a groundbreaking new climate bill for Massachusetts,” Sen. Mike Barrett, D, said in a statement. “Important ideas of his are included, the most notable of which is the abolition of the so-called ‘cap price’ on what developers of offshore wind farms can charge for the electrical power they produce.”

For electric vehicles, the legislation includes a $3,500 rebate on purchases and leases of zero-emission passenger cars and light trucks costing $55,000 or less. Buyers who trade in an internal combustion vehicle can get an additional $1,000, and low-income buyers can receive an additional $1,500 rebate. The legislation also extends the bonuses to used vehicles.

The bill establishes a Charging Infrastructure Deployment Fund and forms a new coordinating council to develop a plan for the equitable deployment of EV chargers.

The legislation would allow up to 10 municipalities to require all-electric new construction, though it requires participating communities to meet certain affordable housing goals and certain facilities, including health care, are exempt.

The bill declares that new industrial-scale biomass plants cannot be considered renewable as part of the state’s standard renewable portfolio program and requires new grid modernization projects to minimize the impact of prices on taxpayers. It also directs the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to submit to the legislature by 2023 a study of “medium-duration” and “long-duration” energy storage systems, including pumped-storage.

“This bill is a big deal,” Ben Hellerstein, state director of the Environment for Massachusetts, said in a statement Sunday. “We must transition Massachusetts to 100% clean, renewable energy sources, and this bill will give us some important steps in the right direction.

“Starting tomorrow, all eyes will be on Governor Baker.”

Baker in March 2021 signed climate change legislation that put the state on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but only after vetoing a similar bill in January.

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