Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative

October 20, 2021

Summary: An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy

Signed by the Governor and enacted in late March of 2021, overall the law gets more specific on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) limits and mechanisms and processes to get to the 2050 requirement of net zero GHG emissions.

Some things of note:

  • The law redefines direct and indirect GHG emissions and emission sources to be any use, distribution, and sale of any fuel, electricity, steam, heating, and cooling that occur in the Commonwealth which are determined by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) to be of significance.  It also specifies that any person or entity that sells or distributes transportation fuels, heating fuels, or electricity may be considered to be the source of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Specifies interim greenhouse gas emissions limits for 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045, and some mechanisms to reach them such as carbon sequestration.
  • Requires EOEEA to develop comprehensive, clear and specific roadmap plans for each 5-year limit and to hold public hearings, promulgate regulations, and create programs, including grant programs, around GHG limits and reductions.
  • Expands the definition of “Market-based compliance mechanism” to provide more latitude to impose financial mechanisms designed to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Adds a definition of Natural and Working Lands (NWL), and directs EOEEA to create a NWL plan.  
    • NWL are lands that are: (i) actively used by an agricultural owner or operator for an agricultural operation (ii) produce forest products; (iii) consist of forests, grasslands, freshwater and riparian systems, wetlands, coastal and estuarine areas, watersheds, wildlands or wildlife habitats; or (iv) are used for recreational purposes. 
    • The NWL plan must outline actions to meet statewide goals, including land protection, management, and restoration and state and local legislation, laws and regulations, programs, grants, loans, incentives and public-private partnerships.
  • Adds a clean energy equity workforce and market development program to the MA Clean Energy Tech Center, requires annual funding of $12 million, and creates an expendable trust and establishes a grant program to provide solar energy technology to certain non-profit organizations.
  • Requires an environmental impact report for any project that is likely to cause damage to the environment and is located within a distance of 1 mile of an environmental justice population (definition here) or for a project that impacts air quality within 5 miles of an environmental justice population. 
  • Creates an environmental justice council to advise and provide recommendations to the secretary of energy and environmental affairs to achieve the environmental justice principles.
  • Sets new efficiency standards for a wide range of residential and commercial equipment, from ovens and dishwashers  to refrigeration units and computers, and sets water flow limits for commercial and residential water devices.

For more information or to be updated on the Collaborative’s climate change work, contact Jeff Cole.


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Massachusetts Food System Collaborative