October Legislative Update

While our state legislators are on the campaign trail, we are still looking for some action on an economic development bill that would provide funding for many of the programs and investments in the recently passed Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind. We are hoping that House and Senate leaders will agree to call a formal session to take up a bill when and if it comes out of the conference committee where it currently sits. Without funding, many of the important measures in the wind/climate bill cannot move forward.

In the meantime the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has published its final version of the revised stretch energy building code and the specialized opt-in code. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) has an opportunity to comment on the code and call a public hearing, but has no authority to require revisions. The specialized opt-in code requires that buildings 4000 square feet or larger must either be all electric or meet very stringent energy efficiency criteria, which some experts suggest will lead most builders to go all electric.

Our Legislative Team is calling on TUE to recommend that DOER allow all municipalities that would like to require all new construction and major rehabs to be all electric to be allowed to do that. If that is not possible, we are asking that the 4000-square-foot limit be reduced to 2000 square feet, so that more builders would likely choose to go all electric. We will be sending out an Action Alert to ask our members to ask their legislators to pressure TUE to address our concerns.

On the federal level, we joined hundreds of other environmental organizations in calling for an end to the deal that Senator Manchin made with Senator Schumer to trade federal permission for a pipeline he wanted and some other fossil fuel industry benefits for regulatory reform that would also benefit renewable energy projects. The legislation incorporating the deal was to be attached to the resolution required to continue funding for the government, so it would be hard to oppose even by those who did not support it.

Manchin did withdraw his bill. While this may be something of a victory for the climate movement, it could also mean that the regulatory reform needed to speed up approval of renewable energy and transmission line projects may not happen anytime soon. Ideally our federal legislators would find their way to a compromise less favorable to fossil fuel interests, but it is not clear that is a realistic possibility.

Your Legislative Team is planning two meetings devoted to review of our advocacy efforts during the last legislative session and setting priorities and strategies for the coming session. ECA Mass members possibly interested in becoming more engaged in advocacy are encouraged to attend one or both meetings. The first meeting is Friday, October 7 at 10:30 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85116204087?pwd=RVErRTZaRmU4Y1JEdHorUkphdUxBQT09).