Climate change bill approved by Massachusetts lawmakers


Hunter Berube

Suffolk Climate Watch graphic

Massachusetts lawmakers approved a climate change bill that aims to create net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the state by 2050.

The revised bill has bounced between both chambers for the past few months, according to The Boston Globe. It was rejected earlier this year after Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed it during the last session. 

The Senate voted 39-1 on the bill, making way for the House to approve the legislation in a 146-13 vote on March 18, reported AP News.

Government officials who voted in favor of the bill said they were “proud” of their fellow lawmakers for committing themselves to climate protection in Massachusetts, according to The Boston Herald.

“We’ve passed a big, ambitious bill, but for legislators, the work isn’t over,” Senator Michael Barrett told the Globe. “Now the executive branch has to roll out everything in line with legislative intent.” 

The goals of the bill have changed from when it was first introduced, according to the Herald

Previously, the bill aimed to cut 1990 carbon emission levels to at least 50% by 2030. However, lawmakers rejected it when Baker suggested a reduction of 45% to 50% by 2030, along with a 65% to 75% reduction by 2040.

The bill looks to promote reduced dependence on fossil fuels while looking to use renewable energy sources, and it additionally requires more offshore power for utilities.

Protections regarding environmental justice is an aspect of the bill that the lawmakers are looking to strengthen, AP reported. 

Lower income communities are more susceptible to pollution and other environmental issues. According to the Herald, these communities will now have more say in local expansions. 

“This is a significant addition to the bill and will permanently reduce health impacts on these communities,” Kathleen Theoharides, Massachusetts secretary of energy and environmental affairs told the Globe