January 28. By Roger Luckmann. Last week, as their first legislative act of the 2021-22 session, the Legislature sent their “next generation roadmap” climate bill back to Governor Baker without making any changes to the bill he had pocket vetoed at the end of the last session. Given a veto statement that includes much support for elements in the bill as well as much criticism, it is certain that Baker will return the bill to the Legislature with a slate of amendments. The stage will then be set for some tough negotiations that could end in compromise, or possibly in a blanket override vote that keeps the bill entirely intact.
The Baker veto statement cites two major disagreements that likely will be framed in amendments. The bill calls for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to be reduced by 50% of the 1990 level or more by 2030. This is significantly more than the 45% reduction that Baker supports in his draft 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) and would come at a cost of $6 billion over 10 years according to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Theoharides. She cites high costs to incentivize thousands of additional residents to purchase electric vehicles or heat pumps for home heating and to procure an additional 2000 megawatts of primarily solar and wind energy generation capacity.
A second concern is the bill’s requirement that a stretch energy building code be developed and adopted by the state. Baker cites concerns of real estate developers that the code could discourage much needed housing construction in the state.
Climate activists and champions in the Legislature are already pushing back against Baker’s concerns, suggesting $6 billion over ten years may be a reasonable price to pay for significant climate progress and citing studies showing that stretch energy housing codes do not have to slow housing development. The deadline for Baker to sign, veto, or return the bill with amendments is February 7.