Baker sets emission reduction targets
Targets power plants, goes easy on transportation
THE BAKER ADMINISTRATION is taking aim at power plants and using a lighter touch with private vehicles as it seeks to comply with a court order requiring the state to set greenhouse gas emission targets by economic sector.
The draft regulations issued on Friday call for greenhouse gas emissions to fall another 7.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Of the total reduction, 4 percent is expected to come from power plants and 3.1 percent from transportation, with the remaining 0.06 percent coming from plugging methane leaks in the gas distribution system.
Under the regulations, individual Massachusetts power plants would be required to reduce their emissions and retail electricity suppliers would be required to purchase more clean energy, with a focus on hydroelectricity, nuclear power, and electricity from fossil fuel-fired power plants equipped with special carbon capture technology.
For the transportation sector, nearly all of the reduction would come from the state’s existing low emission vehicle program, which requires cars and trucks manufactured after 1995 to come equipped with advanced emission control systems. The MBTA and the state Transportation Department will also be required to reduce their emissions.
Dolan said the power generation sector has already cut emissions 60 percent below 1990 levels, primarily by using natural gas instead of coal and oil to run electric generating plants. By contrast, he said, emissions from the transportation sector have actually gone up slightly. The transportation sector is the state’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.Dolan said some power plants may have trouble meeting the 2018 emissions targets, let alone those for 2019 and 2020. Environmental advocates, however, said they plan to push for even tougher emissions targets for power plants.
The draft regulations are a response to a May decision by the Supreme Judicial Court in a case brought by the Conservation Law Foundation. The so-called Cain decision said the state must set emission reduction targets for individual sectors of the economy and not just rely on an economy-wide approach.