In addition to implementing provisions of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and other state agencies are taking a number of steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize climate change impacts.

Reducing Emissions

As part of its core mission, MassDEP is working to cut greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles and fuels through its Low-Emission Vehicle and Rideshare programs, the Massachusetts Vehicle Check emissions testing program, stepped-up enforcement of state vehicle idling restrictions, and efforts to promote transit-oriented development.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to adopt greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants, specifically targeting the six highest-emitting facilities in the state. The MassDEP rules served as regulatory model for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

In a related move, the agency has established a program to provide incentives for emissions reductions by granting Greenhouse Gas Credits to qualifying projects that reduce, avoid, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. MassDEP also provides grants to towns and cities for their efforts to reduce waste and save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and minimize climate change impacts.

Encouraging Renewable Energy & Supporting Smart Growth

MassDEP is streamlining regulations, accelerating permit reviews, and creating other incentives for projects that incorporate renewable energy, combined heat and power and energy reliability through its Clean Energy Results partnership with the Department of Energy Resources.

Through a range of activities, MassDEP is encouraging growth in already-developed areas and fostering transit-oriented development to reduce the frequency and distance of vehicle trips, thereby helping reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions from automobiles. MassDEP Smart Growth initiatives include financial, regulatory and technical incentives for Brownfields development, and urban redevelopment incentives in the State Revolving Fund (SRF), a low-interest loan program for municipal and regional wastewater and drinking water projects.

Waste Reduction & Recycling

Each stage of a product's life - from raw materials extraction to manufacturing, transportation, use and waste disposal - consumes fossil fuels and results in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most analyses of greenhouse gases focus on the waste component of the life cycle, and do not account for the upstream impacts.

According to some estimates, a full lifecycle accounting of GHG emissions associated with the use of products and materials shows that it represents roughly 35 percent of the GHG emissions in the United States. In general, researchers have found that the most significant GHG impacts of products are associated with extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation of the products.

By reducing waste quantities and toxicity, and by reusing and recycling valuable discarded materials, we can reduce GHG emissions associated with raw material extraction, product manufacturing and waste disposal. Most analyses of greenhouse gases focus on the waste component of the life cycle, and do not account for the upstream waste quantities and toxicity, and by reusing and recycling valuable discarded materials, we can reduce GHG emissions associated with raw material extraction, product manufacturing and waste disposal.

The Northeast Recycling Council estimates that in 2006, recycling and composting reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2.6 million metric tons of carbon equivalent per year in Massachusetts when viewed from a lifecycle perspective. To learn more about the state's approach to solid waste management, see the Solid Waste Master Plan, which is intended to maximize waste reduction and recycling, and describes programs that support waste reduction and recycling in Massachusetts.

Seeking Regional & National Solutions

Through the Climate Registry, MassDEP is working with other U.S. states, Canadian provinces, Mexican states and native American tribes to create consistent standards and a common system for calculating, verifying, reporting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

MassDEP is also working to use resources and energy more efficiently, and reduce its own carbon footprint. Under a state pilot program, the agency will soon purchase all of its electricity from renewable sources. In 2006, MassDEP installed energy-efficient lighting at its Boston and Wilmington offices, and bought hybrid vehicles as planned replacements for its emergency response vans.

The agency used recycled building materials and green building techniques at its re-opened Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington and Cape Cod satellite office in Hyannis, and is pursuing the highest possible Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for its William S. Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence, which is currently being renovated and expanded.

For additional information about what MassDEP is doing about greenhouse gases and climate change, contact Bill Lamkin at 978-694-3294 or William.Lamkin@state.ma.us.