State legislation update – fate of energy and climate bills is cloudy as legislative session draws to a close

July 8th – Arnie Epstein.  As the state’s two year legislative cycle winds down at the end of July, the fate of much energy and climate legislation remains cloudy.

On the Senate side, an Energy Omnibus was introduced by Senator Pacheco earlier this year.  This bill incorporated much of the legislation previously filed as individual bills including the two top priorities of ECA Mass – the Clean Energy Roadmap (Global Warming Solution Implementation Act) and a carbon fee (in the form of a phased “market based compliance mechanism” for emissions from transportation, buildings, and industry).  ECA Mass also supports the Mass Power Forward (MPF) legislative priorities listed here.  The omnibus bill was reported out favorably by the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee then took up the bill and reported out a much “leaner” version of the omnibus bill.  However, the Senate amended much of the original bill back, and this was passed by the full Senate last month as Senate Bill S.2564.

On the House side, the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE), reported out last month less ambitious energy legislation, which does not include the ECA Mass top priorities.  This legislation is currently before the House Ways and Means Committee.

From what we currently understand, it is unlikely the House will even consider the Senate Energy Omnibus bill, which would effectively kill it.  It is also not known if all, or any, of the less ambitious legislation from TUE will be reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee.  There remain several possible mechanisms for the legislature to take up and enact the ECA Mass and MPF priorities before the end of the session, these include amendments and additions in a joint conference committee.

ECA Mass believes much of the current confusion over energy and climate legislation could be avoided if the state had a Clean Energy Roadmap – a feasible pathway for achieving the GHG emissions reductions mandated by the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).  If state government had a clear understanding of when and what needed to be done in order to meet the 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 required by the GWSA, then proposed legislation and regulations could be judged by how effectively they moved us along the path towards our goal.

For the current legislative session, with process unclear, the best thing to do at this time is to contact your representative to express support for the ECA Mass and MPF priorities.  Your House and Senate representatives can be found here.  A description of the Clean Energy Roadmap legislation is here.  And the MPF legislative priorities are here.