The Massachusetts “Green New Deal”
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance supports a clean environment but like any legislation being debated, the benefit and costs must be weighed. Rarely have we seen such far reaching, ideologically driven, and rushed legislation as this.
An Act Creating a Roadmap to Net-Zero by 2050, also known as the “Massachusetts Green New Deal,” and the “2021 Climate Change Bill” is a radical piece of legislation aimed at functionally eliminating the use of fossil fuels in Massachusetts within the next thirty years. To accomplish this gargantuan task, the bill sets forth many draconian and onerous rules, regulations, and requirements on the everyday citizens of the Commonwealth.
MassFiscal has continually tracked the bill and educated our members on it as it wound its way through the Beacon Hill. It mandates limits on carbon emissions by sector: electric power, transportation, commercial and industrial heating and cooling, residential heating and cooling, industrial processes, and natural gas distribution and service. These arbitrary limits will mean drastic and costly changes in certain sectors to stay under the limit and leaves the power to make these changes in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. It also calls to include the “social value” of GHG emissions reductions when determining whether efficiency programs by sector are “cost-effective.” This means something could be calculated on paper as a very expensive measure that isn’t worth implementing, but when factoring in the “social value,” it can magically become cost effective.
It also puts California style regulations on appliances and fixtures and allows unelected bureaucrats to set the efficiency standards for appliances going forward. THINK: Low-flow showerheads and washing machines that never quite get your clothes clean. It prohibits any nonconforming appliance from being sold or even installed in state—so no running up to New Hampshire to try to get around it.
The bill also includes allowing cities and towns to adopt net-zero “stretch” energy codes, and further pushes to include stretch energy codes into state building code. In layman’s terms, your town will have the power to make these regulations even MORE stringent than the state is already mandating. This could mean extreme mandates and expenses on any new buildings and would make local elections more important than EVER. For affluent towns and cities that seek to attract more affordable housing units, this will be a barrier for welcoming in homeowners who normally could not afford to live in these areas.
It also increases offshore wind power exponentially, despite neither of the two major wind-farms already authorized having even been started yet. Let’s hope there’s no unforeseen impacts like in Falmouth. Its worth highlighting, that while Massachusetts establishes and expands its off shore wind, the Democratic Governor of Maine has imposed a ten-year moratorium on all off shore wind projects in order to observe its impact on the fishing industry and marine wildlife. While MA rushes into this experiment, other states approach it with much more caution.
In August, MassFiscal launched a petition drive that gathered over 1000 signatures imploring the legislature to hold off on the proposal in light of the economic calamity brought on by the pandemic. The legislature ignored it. You can view that letter by clicking here.
The bill was bad enough that even Governor Baker decided it was too much to stomach and he vetoed it at the end of last session.
MassFiscal again took this as an opportunity to ask the legislature to reconsider the bill, which they again ignored. You can view the January letter by clicking here.
Instead, the legislature turned around and repassed the Climate Bill, with the exact same language, on the first day of the new, 2021 session. They did it before they even voted on the rules!
At the beginning of February, the Governor returned the bill to them with several minor amendments. It is likely to be promulgated into law within the next few weeks.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most radical and far-reaching bills signed by the Massachusetts legislature in a generation. It will radically restructure the way everyone lives in Massachusetts, and coupled with other initiatives like the Transportation & Climate Initiative, will force many people out of state due to skyrocketing living expenses.
To see how your legislators voted, visit MassFiscalScorecard.org.
UPDATE - March 19, 2021
On March 18, 13 House Republicans and one House Democrat voted against the controversial and costly climate bill that Governor Charlie Baker originally vetoed and eventually amended. The legislation was passed in the Senate on Monday by a vote of 39-1 with Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) voting against it. In the House, the 14 votes against were State Representatives Colleen Garry (D-Dracut), Paul Frost (R-Auburn), Donald Berthiaume (R-Spencer), Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick), David DeCoste (R-Norwell), Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), Peter Durant (R-Spencer), Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Joseph McKenna (R-Webster), Norm Orrall (R-Lakeville), Kelly Pease (R-Westfield), Alyson Sullivan (R-Abington), David Viera (R-Falmouth), and Steven Xiarhos (R-Sandwich).
This bipartisan group of lawmakers should be applauded for having the courage to stand up for what is right, for standing up for their districts, and up for standing up for common sense. Next time you see them, please thank them. The Beacon Hill Institute (BHI) just published a study that showed in order to achieve “net zero” by 2050, as this legislation aims to do, Massachusetts would require a gallon of gasoline to be priced above $14.00. BHI’s President, Dr. David Tuerck continued to state the climate goal “would increase costs to the average Massachusetts household to unacceptable levels.”
There is little doubt the legislation that passed today, if it becomes law, will cost taxpayers and businesses greatly in the future. The only questions that remain are just how much it will cost them and how ordinary, working class families will be able to pay for it moving forward. Today’s legislation puts ideology ahead of common sense. It asks nearly every resident to make economic sacrifices in order to achieve unrealistic and ideologically driven climate goals.
Although Governor Baker previously vetoed the bill, we expect he will sign the legislation. After all, it was his administration’s idea to push for “net zero” by 2050 as the Governor announced during the annual State of the Commonwealth speech last year.
To view the MassFiscal Scorecard on this vote, please click here: https://massfiscalscorecard.org/vote.php?vote_id=1291