Senate and House OK separate climate change bills

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On Nov. 8, the Senate passed legislation to establish a comprehensive adaptation management plan for the Commonwealth in response to climate change.
 
The legislation (S. 2196), supported by the MMA, would direct the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Department of Public Safety to develop and adopt a comprehensive plan that would include policies to encourage and provide guidance to state agencies, state authorities, municipalities and regional planning agencies to proactively address the impacts of climate change. The bill would create an advisory committee that includes a representative from local government.
 
The new program would provide financial and technical assistance to municipalities to help them to develop and implement adaptation plans. The plans would include climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy development, and would take into consideration the community’s environmental and socioeconomic characteristics.
 
The MMA supported an amendment that would have removed a provision requiring that all certificates, licenses, permits, authorizations, grants, financial obligations, projects, actions and approvals issued by state agencies be consistent, to the maximum extent practicable, with the comprehensive adaptation management plan. The MMA expressed concern that the requirements could make it difficult for state agencies to implement effective and timely permitting processes and could reduce flexibility for state agencies. The amendment, however, was not adopted.
 
The House also passed legislation related to climate change, on Nov. 1 by a vote of 145-10. The House bill would commit the state to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the international emissions reduction pact that went into effect in 2016. Massachusetts is already part of the U.S. Climate alliance, a group of 14 states and Puerto Rico that have committed to meeting the targets laid out in the agreement, which calls for a 26 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2025.
 
Last year, Gov. Charlie Baker signed an executive order that mapped out the state’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve resiliency, and protect against the impacts of climate change. Executive Order 569 also created the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, which provides grants for cities and towns to identify local hazards and vulnerabilities and develop strategies to become more resilient.
 
The administration has been soliciting comments on strategies to reduce emissions from the transportation sector. The administration is also working with other states in the Northeast to develop regional strategies to address the issue.