Last Friday, Governor Baker issued Executive Order 569, "Establishing an
Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the
Commonwealth." EO 569 will advance climate policy in
Massachusetts in a number of important ways. It also leaves
much to be accomplished by MassDEP. Here are the
EOEEA and MassDOT are instructed to work with other New England
and Northeastern states to develop regional policies to reduce GHG
emissions from the transportation sector.
EOEEA and the Department of Public Safety must jointly develop
a Climate Adaptation Plan within two years. The Plan will focus on
what state agencies and municipalities need to do to adapt to
EOEEA and DPS must also develop a framework for state agencies
and municipalities to assess their vulnerability to climate
MassDEP must promulgate regulations by August 11, 2017 to
satisfy the Global Warming Solutions Act mandate, as interpreted by
the SJC in the recent Kain decision, that would accomplish
declining annual emissions from GHG sources. In doing so, MassDEP
Leaks from the natural gas distribution system
Changes to GHG permitting requirements
Reductions in transportation emissions, including the
Commonwealth's vehicle fleet
Gas insulated switchgear.
All of this is good. Two elements of the EO are
particularly noteworthy. First, because Governor Baker was
acting through Executive Order, the state Climate Plan does not do
what the legislation passed by the Senate, but rejected by the
House, during the last legislative session would have done –
require that any future permits be conditioned on compliance with
the Climate Plan. One can hear the development community
breathing a big sigh of relief. Second, EO kicks a very large
can down the road – though perhaps not as far down the road
as MassDEP might have liked. MassDEP has less than 11 months
to draft, propose, take comment on, and finalize regulations to
comply with Kain.
The requirement that MassDEP propose GWSA is particularly
important to the regulated community. The focus on leaks from
the natural gas distribution system is shrewd. Recent
legislation had required utilities to identify such leaks, but was
largely toothless on remedy. Having DEP promulgate
regulations is low-hanging fruit that will please pretty much
everyone other than the utilities. The requirement
that MassDEP look at GHG reductions in the transportation
sector is also important, but it bears emphasis that the EO focuses
in particular on the Commonwealth's vehicle fleet. This
may well be a recognition of the
difficulty in promulgating regulations that would set declining
annual limits on GHG emissions from private transportation.
All that's left is to wish MassDEP a hearty "good
luck"! in meeting the deadline in the EO.
To view Foley Hoag's Law and the Environment Blog
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