Report: Patrick-Murray Administration Clean Energy Policies Will Produce Dramatic Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions
With Global Warming Solutions Act requiring cut of 10 to 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, reduction of more than 18 percent will result from measures now in place
Referencing a draft technical report submitted today as part of EEA's implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act, Secretary Bowles said the Bay State is well on its way to achieving targets set by the 2008 Act, which requires the Commonwealth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 10 to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
"We have known for some time that Governor Patrick's emphasis on clean energy is an engine for the Massachusetts economy - helping energy technology companies grow, creating jobs, and establishing Massachusetts as an industry leader," Secretary Bowles said. "This draft report confirms that these policies are also making the Commonwealth a national leader in reducing the pollution that causes climate change."
Prepared for Secretary Bowles by Eastern Research Group, Inc. (ERG) of Lexington, the draft report submitted to EEA's Climate Protection and Green Economy Advisory Committee for review and comment relies on a 1990 greenhouse gas (GHG) emission baseline determined by the state last year and outlines more than two dozen existing strategies, laws and policies projected to move the Commonwealth toward an 18.6 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from that level by 2020. Methods for achieving the reductions include numerous state policies established during the Patrick-Murray Administration, as well as federal policies that will result in lower GHG emissions in Massachusetts.
For the 2020 "Business as Usual" projection, MassDEP extrapolated out to 2020 based on 1990-to-2005 historical emission trends. This projection showed total emissions as relatively flat during that period, prompting the agency to project 2020 "Business As Usual" (BAU) emissions at 94 million metric tons. Today's draft report shows the Commonwealth on track to reduce emissions significantly below the BAU level - to 77 million metric tons, an 18.6 percent reduction - based on laws and policies now in place.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, energy efficiency, renewable energy incentives, green transportation and smart growth, clean energy business development and workforce training, policies affecting large-scale private development, and reform of government operations are among the broad categories of programs moving Massachusetts toward a low-carbon future, according to the draft report. Specific measures adopted during the Patrick-Murray Administration that contribute to this projected reduction include expanded and nation-leading energy efficiency programs, a more ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard, the popular Commonwealth Solar rebate program, adoption of smart growth/smart energy policies, and adoption of a statewide energy efficient building code.
The policies included in this analysis consist of: Massachusetts programs and policies that are already being implemented (such as expanded energy efficiency programs mandated by the Green Communities Act of 2008); measures supported by the Patrick-Murray Administration and moving toward implementation, although not yet fully in place (such as a regional low carbon fuel standard, now under development in cooperation with 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states); regional efforts with a high probability of being implemented (such as new transmission lines from Canada that will import non-fossil electricity); and federal policies (such as the Obama Administration's new CAFE/GHG standards for fuel efficiency in vehicles).
"The more we learn about how our planet works, the more we realize that we must take action now to build sustainable prosperity," said Advisory Board co-chair and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution president and director Susan Avery. "Massachusetts has demonstrated that protecting the environment and steering the economy for the long term can go hand in hand."
"Creating the policy framework that will enable the switch from dirty unsustainable sources of energy such as coal, gas and oil to clean and sustainable energy over time is an imperative for all of us interested in assuring a healthy and prosperous future for our children," said Advisory Board Co-chair and Millipore CEO Martin Madaus. "Companies throughout Massachusetts have shown that seizing clean energy opportunities is better for the bottom line, grows jobs, and gives us at a competitive advantage."
"This is the promise of a clean energy economy - the same measures that help us meet our climate obligations also help us create jobs and economic prosperity," said Nick d'Arbeloff, president of the New England Clean Energy Council.
"The Patrick Administration has made great strides at making Massachusetts an environment for clean energy companies to grow," said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind, a Massachusetts-based developer and operator of utility-scale wind projects. "The fact that this draft report shows there has been a significant reduction in greenhouse gases demonstrates that we can protect our environment and keep our air clean while bringing real economic development to our state."
"We applaud Governor Patrick and his administration for adopting clean energy policies that are significantly moving the needle on greenhouse gas reductions across the state," said John Kassel, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. "These findings should serve as an example to the region and the country. We need to be doing all we can to pave the way for clean energy solutions, so we can begin to reap the economic benefits of environmental progress."
"Last year Massachusetts made history by passing into law the Global Warming Solutions Act, which set stringent, economy-wide targets to reduce carbon emissions," said Senator Marc Pacheco, chairman of the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. "I am extremely pleased to see that the Commonwealth is making history again, by setting the strongest carbon cap in the nation. Continuing to reduce greenhouse gases over the next decade will not only help to protect the environment, it will also help facilitate the growth of a new, green economy."
"These figures are very encouraging. It is important that we continue to move towards our shared goals of economic energy efficiency and job creating alternative and renewable energy development in the Commonwealth," said Sen. Michael W. Morrissey, chairman of the Telecommunication, Utilities & Energy Committee.
"I'm pleased EEA is on track to meet the initial goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act," said Representative Frank Smizik, chairman of the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. "Emissions reduction and building clean energy will strengthen our economy, make our nation more secure, and improve our public health. Massachusetts must push the envelope with new innovations and strong standards, so that the Commonwealth can continue to be a national and international leader."
"I am pleased to see that the investments this administration has made in clean energy policies are having a profound impact on our environment here in the Commonwealth. I look forward to continued progress and Massachusetts building on its leadership in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region," said Rep. Barry Finegold, chairman of the Telecommunication, Utilities and Energy Committee.
Following review and comment by the advisory committee, ERG will file with Secretary Bowles a final report on GHG reductions from established policies. Secretary Bowles will use that report to inform his establishment by the end of this year of a firm target for 2020 GHG reductions, within the 10 to 25 percent range, along with an economy-wide plan to achieve that target.