Mass. makes unsteady progress on emissions
Goal is 25% below 1990 emission levels by 2020
MASSACHUSETTS GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS increased for the fourth year in a row in 2015, but state officials are forecasting a downturn when numbers are crunched for 2016, according to an email sent out by the Baker administration.
State law mandates that emissions reach a target of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Data lag by several years, but the numbers suggest the state has been going the wrong way the last few years, with emissions falling to 72 million tons in 2012 before rising in 2013 and 2014 and hitting 76.3 million tons in 2015.
The 2015 number was 19.2 percent below 1990 levels, which was not as good as 2014 (21.5 percent below) or 2013 (19.7 percent). Officials are forecasting emission levels to be 20.8 percent below 1990 levels in 2016.In the email, the Baker administration said it is pursuing a number of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but some of them are unlikely to come along in time for 2020. A transmission line to import large amounts of hydro-electricity is not expected to be done until the end of 2022, and an initial procurement of offshore wind power is not expected to come on line until 2021.
“We need to come to grips with the fact that burning huge amounts of oil, coal and Russian imported LNG is a major reason we are not meeting our climate goals,” he said in a statement. “Moving forward, we are going to need to get serious about the electrification of our vehicle fleet and doing more to reduce emissions in the building sector. Those important actions will certainly put more stress on our electrical grid, which the independent grid operator has said is in danger of being forced into controlled rolling blackouts in the near future. The path forward for Massachusetts and New England will require a comprehensive approach that includes both renewables and additional natural gas infrastructure.”