In Brief
  • Three Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed a bill requiring the state to use 100% renewable energy by 2035, as well as eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the state by 2050.
  • The bill sends a clear message that, despite changes on the federal level, the state of Massachusetts will remain firm in its commitment to fighting climate change.

A Clear Message

It looks like Massachusetts is following in the footsteps of other states with already very aggressive decarbonization goals as state lawmakers have proposed a bill that aims to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2050. This is on top of the already existing Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.

Bill SD.1932, dubbed as the 100 Percent Renewable Energy Act, is sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Rep. Sean Garballey, Rep. Marjorie Decker, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge. It sets a clear goal “to steadily transition the commonwealth to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050.”

“This legislation provides a bold step by placing the Commonwealth on a path to a cleaner and more sustainable future,” Garballey said in a statement. “It encourages job creation, protects and sustains our natural resources, reduces our carbon footprint and would benefit the health and well-being of our citizens in immeasurable ways.”

SD.1932 would also increase Massachusetts’ renewable portfolio standard (RPS) — a policy that requires utilities to purchase a minimum amount of their electricity from renewable sources — to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Currently, it has mandated 1,600 MW of offshore wind power and is seeking to set an energy storage goal. Furthermore, the bill also seeks to eliminate fossil fuel use from the heating and transportation sectors.

Ad Meskens/CC BY (Wikimedia)
Ad Meskens/CC BY (Wikimedia)

Relying on Renewables

The bill is also about sending a message. With the White House administration seemingly all too keen on reviving the oil industry, the state of Massachusetts is taking a stand. “As President Donald Trump takes office, this bill sends a clear message to officials in DC: Massachusetts is determined to keep moving forward on clean energy,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction with global trends in favor of renewable energy sources, which are increasingly becoming cheaper than their fossil fuel counterparts. But aside from this, the push for renewable energy can also bring jobs into Massachusetts. As a U.S. Department of Energy report released earlier this year showed, solar energy alone provided 374,000 jobs from 2015-2016, more than all fossil fuels combined.

Precisely because of this, SD.1932 includes a provision about job generation:

The [council for clean energy workforce development] shall identify the employment potential of the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry and the skills and training needed for workers in those fields, and make recommendations to the governor and the general court for policies to promote employment growth and access to jobs.

As things shift on a federal level, Massachusetts remains firm in its commitment to fight climate change. According to Garballey, “[This bill] signals to the country our commitment to long-term solutions in meeting the very real challenges of climate change, and lights the way for similar efforts across the nation.”