July 7, 2020. By Barbara Baatz. Our Legislative Endgame. The Legislative session ends July 31, 2020. This means, we have less than 10 days to get critical environmental legislation passed by the House so that there will be enough time to complete the legislative process (i.e. out of the House Ways and Means Committee (HWMC), a floor vote in the House, sent to and passed by Senate, through a House/Senate Conference committee if the Senate makes changes to the House bill, sent to the governor to sign it, and, if necessary, time to override the governor’s veto).
We have been told by the pundits that as amazing as this might seem, all of this is doable by July 31!
Let’s see if it is true: can we transform the H 3983 Roadmap Bill into law this session?
Just to remind us of the importance of this bill, here are some highlights from H3983 an act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving commonwealth:
- Changes the goal of the Global Warming Solutions Act to net-zero by 2050
- Uses a state-of-art simulation technique called “backcasting” to discover several pathways to reach net-zero by 2050
- Will include all sectors of the Massachusetts economy
- Is people centered and protects EJ Communities from undue burdens
- Has mandated minimum interim goals and accountability
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of social inequities. Although Article 97 of the state constitution mandates that all its citizens have the right to clean air and water, the coronavirus has amply demonstrated that Massachusetts’ has failed in this regard to EJ communities. Thus, ECA also wishes to support Bill H.4264. This bill is also in HWMC and if passed, will provide additional protections for Environmental Justice (EJ) communities. H.4264 An Act relative to environmental justice in the commonwealth will:
- Turn Gov. Patrick’s 2014 executive order 522 into law by providing a legal definition of what constitutes an EJ community
- Establish an EJ Justice Council composed of technical experts and representatives of EJ communities to provide advice to the Governor and the Secretariats regarding policies and standard impacting EJ communities
- Mandate environmental impact reports on all projects which will have a significant environmental affect located within one mile of an EJ community; if it impacts air quality, the distance increases to 5 miles
- Provide enhanced opportunities for EJ residents to participate in environmental decision making
Please join ECA in its efforts to pass these critical pieces of legislation. Not only you will be helping Massachusetts to have the needed legislation to drastically reduce our GHG emissions but will also help alleviate some of the social inequalities laid bare by this pandemic.