Executive Order

Executive Order  No. 604: Establishing the Office Of Climate Innovation and Resilience Within the Office Of the Governor

Date: 01/06/2023
Issuer: Maura Healey
Mass Register: No. 1488

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the climate crisis presents a grave and immediate threat to the Commonwealth, but also one of the Commonwealth’s greatest opportunities to create thousands of new good-paying jobs, address environmental injustices, and protect families, communities, and the natural environment that sustains us;

WHEREAS, climate change affects all aspects of the Commonwealth’s economy and infrastructure, poses complex threats to public health and welfare, and requires a comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained response;

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth must rapidly transition to clean energy to build a healthier, more equitable future that positions Massachusetts as a global leader in clean energy technology and innovation;

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth can achieve a decarbonized and clean energy future while strengthening the economy and promoting equity by

  • building a modern, consumer-oriented clean energy grid;
  • dramatically accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies, including wind, solar, and storage systems;
  • building and upgrading transmission for off-shore wind and other renewable resources;
  • investing in new technologies, implementing deep energy retrofits, increasing electrification, and employing energy-smart new construction;
  • ensuring broader access to sustainable local and regional public transportation systems, facilitating broad deployment of electric charging infrastructure, and planning livable environments that welcome biking and walking;
  • increasing resiliency through climate-smart management of forest resources, protection of coastal wetlands, wider distribution of energy resources, and localized energy supply and storage;
  • all while protecting the natural environment;

WHEREAS achieving net zero emissions while supporting the economy and promoting equity will require a re-evaluation and re-ordering of State government’s policies, practices, and activities to ensure a consistent, forceful, and unified approach in every aspect of State government’s engagement with climate, energy, and environmental issues;

WHEREAS, such an integrated and systematic response must include effective coordination of government policy-making and regulatory oversight, active convening and partnership with all stakeholders, including environmental justice communities, and the development of proper supports and incentives to encourage sustained, corrective actions throughout every sector of the economy;

WHEREAS, the appointment of a Climate Chief to serve in the Governor’s Cabinet will centralize policy-making on climate issues to support a whole-of-government response; and

WHEREAS, the Climate Chief must have clear authority and effective means of oversight to ensure that climate issues are fully weighed and considered in all policy-making, legislation, budgeting, Federal funding, and capital investment decisions that come before the Governor or any executive office or agency, bureau, department, office, or division that reports to or is under the authority of the Governor;

            NOW, THEREFORE, I, Maura T. Healey, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, Part 2, c. 2, § I, Art. I, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1:  Governor’s Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience

There is hereby established an Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience within the Office of the Governor.  

(a.) Mandate.  The mandate of the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience shall be to marshal all resources and authority available to the Governor and the executive department in support of advancing the Commonwealth’s climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience policies.  The Office shall create, direct, and oversee a strategic, integrated whole-of-government approach by all executive department offices and agencies, including the office of the Governor, any executive office of the Commonwealth, as defined by section 2 of chapter 6A of the General Laws, and any agency, bureau, department, office, or division of the Commonwealth within or reporting to such executive office, to advancing executive department policies, implementing legislative mandates, adopting clear and transparent guidelines and directives, and steadfastly adhering to best practices with respect to climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

(b.) Climate Chief.  The Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience shall be led by a Climate Chief, who shall be appointed by and report to the Governor and who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.  The Climate Chief shall serve as an officer within the Governor’s cabinet, shall be the principal policy advisor to and primary representative of the Governor on all matters relating to climate, and shall lead the development and implementation of policy within executive department agencies and offices in all matters relating to or affecting climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. 

(c.) Development of Policy.  The Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience shall serve as the principal authority on climate policy and practice within the executive department responsible for

i. developing, coordinating, and overseeing all policies, programs, rulemakings, and initiatives that relate to or directly implicate issues of climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience;

ii. developing, implementing, and promoting compliance with effective policies, rules, guidelines, directives, timelines, metrics, and reporting practices for all agencies and offices to ensure that climate-related commitments are consistently met, legislative mandates are robustly fulfilled, and climate and implementation plans are timely achieved; and

iii. reviewing and making recommendations to the Governor and the Secretary of Administration and Finance concerning all relevant proposed capital expenditures in order to ensure that capital funding plans are aligned with the Commonwealth’s climate policies.

(d.) Development of Climate-Related Legislation.  The Climate Chief shall from time to time propose and, at the Governor’s direction and in consultation with the Cabinet and affected stakeholders, prepare for filing proposed legislation designed to advance the Governor’s policies in the area of climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. 

(e.) Tracking Progress.  The Office shall track the success of executive department agencies and offices in achieving progress toward the Commonwealth’s goals with respect to climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, and where measurable progress is stalled or delayed, the Climate Chief shall, with the Governor’s oversight, direct the allocation of additional resources as necessary to improve performance and accelerate change.

(f.) Developing Climate Plans and Complying with Climate-Related Legislative Mandates.  To the extent that Massachusetts law, whether now existing or later enacted, requires any agency, office, or other entity within the executive department or otherwise under the authority of the Governor to create a climate plan or to develop an implementation plan to meet climate-related mandates, the Office shall have primary responsibility for interpreting the application of such mandates.  The Office’s interpretive powers shall include the authority, with the Governor’s approval, to issue guidelines clarifying the terms, methods, and means that executive department entities shall employ and incorporate in creating climate plans or developing implementation plans to meet climate-related legislative mandates.

(g.) Adopting Sustainable Practices.  Because State government is itself a major participant in the Commonwealth’s economy, the Office shall have the primary responsibility to ensure that all executive department offices, agencies, and other entities under the Governor’s authority follow sustainable climate practices.  The Office’s authority shall include the power to issue guidelines and directives defining the sustainable climate practices such entities must adopt.

Section 2:  Climate Chief Responsibilities

The Climate Chief shall be responsible for advising the Governor on all policy matters, legislation, regulations, initiatives, capital investments, and funding opportunities relating to climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.  In furtherance of this responsibility, the Climate Chief shall:

i. Establish a network of State, regional, and local partnerships to ensure that all communities in the Commonwealth have the opportunity to be heard on energy and climate decisions that affect them and a pathway to request the support needed to build climate resilience in ways that address community priorities;

ii. Convene and engage all cabinet secretaries and relevant agency and authority heads in the design, development, and funding of integrated climate policies.

iii. Apply for and administer Federal funds, alone or in coordination and consultation with other executive offices and agencies, to support projects that advance the Commonwealth’s climate policies.

iv. Recommend to the Governor methods and means to prioritize the allocation of State funds designated for use in satisfying matching expenditure requirements of Federal grant programs so as to most effectively advance the Commonwealth’s climate policies.

v. Review the capital plans for all executive offices and agencies and issue advice and recommendations to the Governor concerning approval of the plans and their implications for the climate before such plans are finalized and adopted by the Governor.

vi. Develop public information campaigns to promote climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

vii. Convene, and develop strategic partnerships with stakeholders, subject matter experts, and advocates across industry, academia, government, and non-governmental organizations to collectively advance Massachusetts climate policies, support the Commonwealth’s economy, and promote equity and environmental justice.

Because Massachusetts will be most successful in securing Federal support for climate projects throughout the Commonwealth by coordinating efforts and not competing against itself, the Climate Chief shall also engage with, and provide technical support to municipalities in order to facilitate the coordination, aggregation, and prioritization of applications for Federal funding to municipalities. 

Section 3:  Immediate Actions

The Climate Chief and the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience are specifically directed to undertake the following:

(a.) Initial Review.  The Climate Chief shall immediately upon the issuance of this Order, in collaboration with the Cabinet Secretaries, initiate a comprehensive review of the present organization, staffing, and policy-making practices of all executive department agencies and offices for the purpose of developing a comprehensive a unified, whole-of-government approach to advancing executive department climate policy and achieving the Commonwealth’s net zero and related emissions reduction commitments. 

(b.) Recommendations.  The Climate Chief shall within 180 days present to the Governor initial recommendations for modifications and improvements to better align executive department decision-making and action on climate matters.  The Climate Chief may propose legislative changes or changes to existing rules, regulations, executive orders, and other official policy documents that, consistent with the mandate of this Order, are advisable to maximize the efficacy of unified executive department decision-making and action on policies relating to climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. 

Section 4: Secretariat Climate Officers.  

Each Cabinet Secretary shall, in consultation with the Climate Chief, appoint a Secretariat Climate Officer (SCO) who shall be responsible for managing the implementation of executive department climate guidelines and directives within the Secretariat and each agency or office within the Secretariat.  The SCO shall work directly with the Climate Chief and the SCO’s appointing Secretary to develop agency-specific plans to advance the policies established under this Order and by the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience.  Each SCO shall track, coordinate, and manage all activities concerning climate innovation, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience within the executive office to which they are appointed.

Section 5:  Extending the Whole of Government Approach to Additional Governmental Offices. 

Independent agencies and authorities, public institutions of higher education, other constitutional offices, the judiciary, and other public entities are encouraged to work with the Governor’s Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience to participate in executive department climate initiatives and otherwise to adopt policies consistent with those advanced by the Office.

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately and shall continue in effect until amended, superseded, or revoked by subsequent Executive Order.

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