Academic journal article UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

Massachusetts Takes on Climate Change

Academic journal article UCLA Journal of Environmental Law & Policy

Massachusetts Takes on Climate Change

Article excerpt

  I. INTRODUCTION

 II. A CHANGE IN THINKING: INTEGRATING ENERGY
     AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE SAME
     SECRETARIAT

III. MASSACHUSETTS' ACTIONS TO REDUCE GHG
     EMISSIONS AND INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
     NEW LEGISLATION
     A. Green Communities Act
        1. Increased Energy Efficiency
        2. Renewable Energy
        3. Building Codes
        4. The Green Communities Program
     B. The Global Warming Solutions Act
     C. Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act
        (MEPA) Greenhouse Gas Footprint
     D. The Oceans Management Act.
     E. The Clean Energy Biofuels Act
     F. The Green Jobs Act

 IV. MASSACHUSETTS' ACTIONS TO REDUCE GHG
     EMISSIONS AND INCREASE ENERGY EFFICIENCY:
     POLICY INITIATIVES
     A. Making a Difference at the Local Level
     B. State Leading by Example
     C. Decoupling Electricity Rates from Sales
     D. Regional Initiatives to Reduce Greenhouse Gas
        Emissions

  V. CONCLUSION

I. INTRODUCTION

Climate change is the most serious environmental challenge of our time. After years of inaction, bold solutions are needed. Efforts to lower the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change must focus on reducing our demand on carbon-intensive electricity generation and fuels, and on increasing our supply of renewable energy.

Massachusetts has been a leader in the fight against climate change by implementing a unique set of policies and groundbreaking legislation that will significantly reduce GHG emissions through early deployment of energy efficiency, renewable energy and new technology measures. By closely integrating energy and the environment in all climate initiatives, Governor Deval Patrick, in partnership with the state legislature, has established a strong and comprehensive framework to tackle the immediate need to reduce GHG emissions and, at the same time, promote a clean and green energy economy. Massachusetts' proactive programs and hands-on experience will be highly relevant as the new Obama Administration and Congress design a comprehensive national program to address climate change.

The increasing concerns about the consequences of climate change, volatile fuel prices and the carbon dependency of the electricity sector led Governor Patrick to take a fresh approach to environmental protection, especially the intersection between energy and the environment. In January 2007, upon taking office, Governor Patrick took a bold step to make Massachusetts the first state to recognize the interdependence of energy and the environment, combining the state's environmental agencies and energy agencies into one cabinet level secretariat, the reconstituted Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. (1)

In 2008, five key environmental laws were approved by the state legislature and signed by the Governor: the Green Communities Act, the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Oceans Management Act, the Clean Energy Biofuels Act and the Green Jobs Act. Each of these laws, together with several new groundbreaking policies, brings together the state's energy and environmental agencies to help Massachusetts achieve its goal of addressing climate change.

In addition to these state initiatives, Massachusetts is participating in several regional partnerships to reduce GHG emissions. Most notable is Massachusetts' participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a voluntary, ten-state cap-and-trade program for C[O.sub.2] emissions that launched in 2008 the first-in-the-nation auction of carbon emission allowances. (2) Massachusetts has also initiated a regional effort to develop a low-carbon fuel standard with eleven northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. (3) Massachusetts' strong state, local and regional initiatives serve as excellent examples of what is possible for a federal climate change program in partnership with the states.

II. A CHANGE IN THINKING: INTEGRATING ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE SAME SECRETARIAT

Massachusetts has always been a leader when it comes to innovative energy and environmental policy. …

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