House climate change bill calls for roadmap
Measure differs from more prescriptive Senate approach
The House unveiled a climate change bill on Wednesday that directs the executive branch of government to create a roadmap for reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and includes sections dealing with solar power subsidies, grid modernization, clean energy jobs, and municipal light plants.
The bill is expected to be taken up in the House on Thursday and then go to a conference committee that will be charged with sorting out differences with a Senate bill that is broader in scope and far more detailed in its instructions.
The House bill requires the administration to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and sets interim goals for 2030 and 2040. It charges the administration with coming up with a roadmap of policies, regulations, legislative recommendations, and carbon pricing mechanisms to reach the targets.
The Senate bill is far more detailed and prescriptive. It requires the administration to meet statewide emission targets every five years and also requires the setting of emission reduction targets for individual sectors, including transportation, buildings, solid waste, and natural gas distribution. The Senate bill calls for phased-in carbon pricing on automobile and building fuels and requires all MBTA buses to be electrified by 2040.
The House bill creates a clean energy equity taskforce within the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to provide workforce training, job placement, and grants to help minorities and residents of environmental justice communities participate in the state’s energy efficiency and clean energy industries. The taskforce would receive $12 million in funding annually.
The House bill also creates a “low-income whole home retrofit task force” and a “future utility grid commission.” It also requires municipal utilities to set greenhouse gas emission standards and allows solar generating facilities to transfer subsidy payments they receive from their local utility to any utility customer in the state.
Energy advocates said the House bill was too laid back in its approach to reducing emissions, talking about roadmaps when immediate action is required.Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington, the co-chair of the Telecommunication, Utilities, and Energy Committee and the sponsor of the Senate climate change bill, said he was disappointed in reading the House bill because of its lack of aggressiveness in pursuing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s going to be a challenging conference when we don’t yet agree on the central task at hand, which is driving down emissions,” he said.