Healey unveils new renewable energy targets
AG clarifies position on building new natural gas pipelines
ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY on Thursday said Massachusetts should meet 50 percent or more of its electric power needs with renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. She also clarified her position on building new natural gas pipeline capacity.
Healey’s goals are different than those contained in the Global Warming Solutions Act, which calls for the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Healey said she wanted to broaden the discussion with her new renewable energy goals, and added that the targets are achievable.
“This isn’t just pie in the sky at all,” she said. “It’s common sense.”
Healey made her pitch for renewable energy at a hearing of the Baker administration’s Department of Environmental Protection, which is tasked with deciding how to spend $75 million the state received as part of a multi-billion-dollar nationwide settlement with Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi related to the sale of diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed software that cheated emission tests.
The attorney general said she favored using the money to speed up the transition to electric vehicles. The state’s current goal is 300,000 zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025; currently there are just 11,000. Healey said the state should set its goal higher, and use the VW money to make the transition easier.
She called for faster rollout of the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles and backed a shift to electric buses so that the state’s entire fleet would be electric by 2030. She also said she favored policies that would make electric vehicles available to people at all income levels.
“Let’s make EVs accessible for everyone,” she said, using the abbreviation EV for electric vehicle.
In a brief interview after her talk at the Department of Environmental Protection, Healey was asked whether her opposition to new natural gas pipeline infrastructure could hamper the move toward renewable energy, as pipeline advocates have contended.
“I’ve never said I’m opposed to pipelines. My concern has always been, and you know this is a legal matter, that pipelines should not be passing the buck on to ratepayers. If they think it’s a good investment, if they think it’s a worthy investment, then make the investment and build the pipeline,” she said. “What I’ve said is before you have a conversation about building additional pipelines – which may soon become obsolete as everybody moves toward other forms of energy out there – think about what, if anything, we need to do to grow existing capacity in certain places along existing pipelines. There are some who may want to paint our office as taking that position [being against pipelines], but I’ve been saying we need a robust and varied portfolio. We need hydro. We need our wind. We’ve supported gas.”The state is currently in the midst of direct procurements of offshore wind and clean energy to help boost the state’s access to renewable energy. Some have questioned whether those procurements are examples of renewable energy developments passing the cost of their projects on to ratepayers rather than simply making the investment themselves.
“We made a decision here in Massachusetts that we are about a clean energy future,” she said.