For Immediate Release - December 16, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Issues Draft Regulations to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reach Global Warming Solutions Act Goals

Proposed Rules Target Multiple Emissions Sectors; Public Hearings to be held in February

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today issued draft regulations that aim to build upon the Commonwealth’s nation-leading efforts to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The draft regulations, filed today with the Secretary of State, are required as part of Governor Charlie Baker’s Executive Order 569, An Order Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth.

“Climate change presents a serious threat to the environment, our communities and our economy,” said Governor Baker. “With these proposed regulations, the Commonwealth is ensuring that we both meet the rigorous emission reductions limits established in the Global Warming Solutions Act and continue to protect public health and safety, infrastructure, communities, small businesses, and our state’s abundant natural resources from the effects of climate change.”

“As cities and towns continue to fight the effects of climate change, it will be critical for us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We welcome the proposed rules and look forward to the opportunity for public comments and questions to make sure that our approach to this important issue incorporates local input.”

To position the Commonwealth to meet its emission reduction limits under the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), the proposed regulations and amendments lay out an approach to reduce GHG emissions from multiple sectors. The GWSA requires a GHG emissions reduction of 25 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2020 and at least an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

As of 2013, the Commonwealth had reduced emissions by 19.7 percent from 1990 levels, leaving 5.3 percent remaining to achieve the 2020 goal. The six draft regulations announced today will ensure that this goal is achieved by addressing emissions from the natural gas distribution network, the transportation sector, gas-insulated switchgear, electricity generation and consumption. They will support state agencies that are “leading by example” with their use of more efficient and advanced technology vehicles, complement Massachusetts’ nation-leading portfolio of clean energy programs and address other sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The draft regulations address:

  • Carbon Dioxide Emission Limits for the Commonwealth’s State Fleet Passenger Vehicles;
  • Global Warming Solutions Act Requirements for Transportation;
  • Reducing Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Distribution Mains and Services;
  • Clean Energy Standard;
  • Reducing GHG Emissions from Electricity Generating Units; and
  • Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas-Insulated Switchgear.

“These draft regulations are designed to build upon the work underway to meet the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Commonwealth can provide leadership on climate change by reducing its own emissions from state operations, planning and preparing for impending climate change, and enhancing the resilience of government investments.”

Under Section 2 of Executive Order 569, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was directed to publish proposed regulations by December 16, 2016, hold public hearings on the proposed regulations by February 24, 2017, and finalize those regulations by August 11, 2017. The Executive Order’s requirements followed a decision by the Supreme Judicial Court, in the case of Kain vs. DEP, where the court ruled that the steps mandated by the GWSA include promulgation of regulations by MassDEP that established declining annual limits on multiple GHG emission sources. The Executive Order also directs the state to begin planning for climate change adaptation and working with cities and towns across the state to assess vulnerability and build resiliency to address climate change impacts.

Since Executive Order 569 was issued, MassDEP has received and considered public input through stakeholder meetings and a dedicated web portal that allows easy access to all relevant documents and materials.

“The court decision and Executive Order 569 were very clear in requiring MassDEP to work expeditiously on rules to obtain emissions reductions in Massachusetts, and these draft regulations do just that,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “We will be transparent in our efforts to establish limits to reach our 2020 goals, fully involve the public in this effort, and implement a plan that protects the environment and the public health by cutting and limiting pollutants in the atmosphere.”

The public involvement process will include the following public hearings:

  • Monday, February 6, 2017, from 9-11:30 a.m., 1-4 p.m. and at 6 p.m., MassDEP’s Boston Office, 1 Winter Street, Boston
  • Monday, February 6, 2017, at 9 a.m., MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office, 20 Riverside Drive, Lakeville
  • Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., MassDEP’s Central Regional Office, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester
  • Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at 2 p.m., Springfield Central Library, 220 State Street, Springfield.

If one or more of the previously scheduled public hearings is cancelled due to inclement weather, additional public hearings will be held on:

  • Friday, February 10, 2017, at 9 a.m., MassDEP’s Boston Office, 1 Winter Street, Boston; and MassDEP’s Central Regional Office, 8 New Bond Street, Worcester.

The last hearing at each location will remain open until all parties in attendance have been heard, with the exception of the Springfield Central Library, which closes at 8 p.m. Testimony may be presented orally or in writing at the public hearings. MassDEP will also accept written comments until 5 p.m. on February 24, 2017. Written comments may be submitted:

  • Through the online portal available here;
  • By email to climate.strategies@state.ma.us; or
  • By U.S. Mail to: Jordan Garfinkle, MassDEP, 7th Floor, 1 Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

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