Many thanks to all who have called, emailed, Tweeted and raced across the state to convince MA lawmakers that we need Clean Heat and Clean Air. Mothers’ voices have been key to this debate!
Here’s how the Legislature’s final bill, approved Sunday, stacks up against our Clean Heat, Clean Air goals:
- Gas utilities will be subjected to new scrutiny before they can move forward with any plans to pump dangerous, experimental new gases into our homes. Utility proposals will be subject to a strict legal review process, with an opportunity for outside experts and advocates to assess their safety and impact on climate. This delay means a new governor will likely be in office, as will her appointees to key positions, before any changes are voted on.
- The bill speeds the transition off “natural” gas by creating a legal framework to enable gas companies to deliver non-emitting geothermal energy. It further incentivizes a shift to networked geothermal by allowing gas utilities to use customer fees, which currently pay for new gas pipes, to make this happen.
- The measure speeds the transition to clean energy in our homes by allowing up to 10 towns and cities to prohibit fossil fuel use in new construction or major renovations. Mothers Out Front had originally called for a statewide prohibition on fossil fuels in new buildings, but this encountered fierce opposition from gas industry and commercial real estate interests. The 10-town pilot emerged as a compromise, with language added to prod towns to meet affordable housing goals and exceptions allowed for certain building types.
- The bill also addresses gaps in the Mass Save program to help lower-income residents benefit from energy efficiency and home retrofit programs. It requires a higher level of accountability in Mass Save to meet climate and equity goals.
The bill does NOT address the unfair burden that the burning of fossil fuels has placed on low-income and working class communities, where air quality is much worse than in the state as a whole. It does reduce incentives to burn biomass (wood chips), which harms air quality and contributes to high asthma rates among children.
Mothers Out Front will continue to follow the lead of environmental justice organizations, advocating for policies to mitigate and address air quality concerns.
For a more comprehensive analysis, see this overview from our colleagues at the Massachusetts Sierra Club.
The Legislature has delivered Governor Charlie Baker a bill that we can be proud of. Governor Baker sided with gas industry lobbyists on key provisions, but legislative leaders pushed back. We asked them to stand up to industry lobbyists and they did!
The governor has 10 days to sign or veto this bill. Please click here to email Governor Baker and ask him to sign this bill today!