On March 26, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an omnibus climate change bill that codifies the state’s commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The Legislature and the administration traded versions of the bill back and forth in recent months as they worked out several policy and language differences.

Following a gubernatorial veto in early January, legislative leaders fulfilled their promise to refile the bill at the start of the new session, and it was quickly passed again by both branches.

Baker returned the refiled bill to the Legislature with several amendments, including substantive policy changes and minor language clarifications. The Legislature then voted to adopt a number of Baker’s amendments while maintaining their priority policy positions.

The final version of the law includes interim emissions reduction targets for 2030 and 2040 of at least 50% and 75%, respectively, below 1990 levels.

The law also maintains interim emissions reduction limits for several industrial sectors, such as electric power, residential and commercial cooling and heating, and transportation. Legislative leaders and the governor agreed to allow these sublimits, but without penalties on specific sectors as long as the overall statewide emissions targets are reached.

The Legislature did not incorporate the governor’s preferred language establishing a municipal opt-in “high-performance” stretch energy code, choosing instead to specify that the code include a definition of net-zero building. The MMA had supported language to establish a municipal opt-in net zero stretch energy code.

The final version of the law incorporates a change the governor made to the definition of environmental justice, adding climate change to the definition of “environmental burdens” faced by environmental justice populations.

The Legislature also adopted the governor’s proposed language requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct “cumulative impact analysis” as a condition of issuing certain permits. A cumulative analysis would consider not only the environmental impacts specific to the proposed project, but also the aggregate environmental impacts experienced by the affected population to date.

Massachusetts now has one of the strongest climate change mitigation laws in the country.

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