Dear Senator,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing regarding S. 2819, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward. The MMA has and will continue to advocate for the removal of barriers to local climate progress, and we thank you and your Senate colleagues for your leadership on this vital issue. We know that bold action is needed to move the Commonwealth forward into a greener and more sustainable future, and S. 2819 would do just that.

We deeply appreciate your commitment to providing innovative options for municipalities. If Massachusetts is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, municipal officials must be empowered and allowed to be proactive in advancing locally based strategies for climate change mitigation and resiliency.

In addition, the MMA would like to thank the Senate for including key provisions to enable and catalyze local action on climate change. In particular, the MMA strongly supports Section 52, which would establish a demonstration program to allow select municipalities to adopt restrictions or bans on fossil fuel use in new building construction or major renovation projects. This innovative pilot program would set reasonable standards for municipal participation and would allow the Department of Energy Resources to collect data on best practices, monitor emissions impacts, and evaluate cost implications in participating cities and towns.

As Massachusetts establishes systems to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the MMA sees the process established by Section 52 as a responsible way for motivated municipalities to demonstrate what net-zero construction and renovation will look like. Further, the MMA stands in support of amendments aiming to increase the number of municipalities eligible for the demonstration program, while strongly opposing any amendments seeking to jeopardize or remove the program from the legislation.

Further, the MMA will continue to support each community’s ability to achieve their climate change goals, while protecting the important authority to determine these priorities at the local level. In that context, the MMA has significant reservations regarding Sections 26 and 27 and the potential effect on existing local laws and tax revenue. Communities that have adopted solar zoning are concerned that these sections could preempt their municipal authority to protect forested lands (which are essential for climate change mitigation) and other environmental concerns. Additionally, conversion of solely agricultural land into dual use could leave municipalities unable to tax the full value of significant income generators. Municipalities should be given flexibility in determining what makes the most sense locally regarding land use and zoning laws, and maintain their ability to collect appropriate land taxes. We ask you to recognize the potential negative impacts of these sections, and look forward to working with you to protect local discretion on these important climate, environmental, and fiscal concerns.

Once again, the MMA would like to express our deep appreciation to you and your Senate colleagues for this strong proposal, and we urge your further consideration and support of these amendments to S. 2819:

Amendments #1 and #91 – Sen. Tarr’s amendments would expand the conservation land tax credit. Amendment #1 would increase the maximum individual taxpayer credit for the donation of conservation land from $75,000 to $100,000. Amendment #91 would raise the annual cap on the Conservation Land Tax Credit (CLTC) program from $2 million annually to $5 million.

Amendment #3 – Sen. Tarr’s amendment would create a communities for sustainable climate program to aid municipalities in designing, constructing and implementing strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Amendment #15 – Sen. Cyr’s amendment would allow the Clean Energy Technology Center to guarantee long-term purchases of energy and renewable energy certificates for a direct sale to a municipality or groups of municipalities.

Amendment #18 – Sen. Eldridge’s amendment would establish a green communities program for the purpose of providing technical and financial assistance to aid municipalities in designing, constructing and implementing energy efficiency and climate change mitigation activities.

Amendment #32 – Sen. Moran’s amendment would allow a municipality or group of municipalities with a certified energy plan to be more innovative and propose an energy efficiency investment plan that goes beyond the specifics of a jointly prepared plan.

Amendments #46 and #54 – Sen. Rush’s and Sen. Collins’s amendments would allow municipalities and groups of municipalities to aggregate their electrical loads through plans of their design, and limit departmental discretion in approval of the plans.

Amendment #51 – Senator Moore’s amendment would establish a cybersecurity control and review commission to make recommendations on cybersecurity policy including standards for state agencies and businesses. The commission would include one designee from the MMA.

Amendment #79 – Sen. Moran’s amendment would establish a Storm Resiliency and Emergency Power Source Fund for generator purchases for municipal storm shelters.

Amendment #128 – Sen. Comerford’s amendment would study school buildings and issue cost-effective recommendations to ensure green and healthy school facilities.

We greatly appreciate your attention to these important issues that face the Commonwealth and every one of our cities and towns. If you have any questions or require additional information, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me, MMA Legislative Director Dave Koffman, or MMA Legislative Analyst Josie Ahlberg at 617-426-7272, ext. 161, or at any time.

Thank you very much.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO