- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Releases Readiness Plan to Protect Against Extreme Weather
Danielle Burney, Deputy Communications Director
BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll Administration today released its Statewide Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan, known as ResilientMass Plan. In total, the ResilientMass plan details 142 actions across state agencies that are tracked publicly at resilient.mass.gov. Key actions include establishing an Office of Climate Science, making the state building code more resilient, and updating MBTA design standards.
“With ResilientMass, our administration is leading by example in preparing for mounting extreme weather events,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This summer brought dangerous weather impacts to our communities, and the impacts have been devastating. ResilientMass ensures that Massachusetts is well positioned for federal funds, while continuing our nation-leading work on climate.”
“This is an important example of why our whole-of-government approach is critical to protecting communities from the harshest impacts of extreme weather,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “More inland flooding, sea level rise, and extreme heat are on the horizon. Massachusetts is ready to meet that challenge. We have a strategy in place and make fiscally responsible investments now to prepare the state and our municipalities for the growing impacts of the climate crisis.”
"Massachusetts is tackling the climate crisis on two key fronts: we’re investing in innovative technologies and industries that will bring down emissions and foster tremendous economic development across the state. We’re also taking steps to prepare for extreme weather as global emissions rise,” said EEA Secretary Tepper. “That means taking a fresh look at our building codes, having sound emergency plans in place, and following the science to inform our decision making. I’m grateful to our partners at MEMA and other secretariats for joining us in the effort to combat the climate crisis.”
“This plan represents a collaborative, forward-leaning approach to help ensure the Commonwealth is prepared to withstand, rapidly recover from, adapt to, and mitigate natural hazard events,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Dawn Brantley. “ResilientMass empowers emergency managers at every level of government with the data and information they need to develop plans and build resilience with a focus on lessening disproportionate impacts to environmental justice populations.”
“This is the year that changed everything. We saw frosts, floods, extreme heat, and fires devastate our communities,” said Climate Chief Melissa Hoffer. “These weather events are only expected to increase. ResilientMass represents a whole-of-government approach to ensure that every agency is working toward a more resilient, healthy future. With this plan, we see the power of collaboration in preparing for natural disasters.”
ResilientMass is based on the findings, science, and stakeholder engagement of the Massachusetts Climate Change Assessment. Among the most significant hazards to Massachusetts are flooding from precipitation, coastal flooding and erosion due to sea level rise, and high heat. Actions that respond to these impacts will each be advanced by a designated lead agency, in collaboration with other state and community partners. ResilientMass is implemented by the inter-agency ResilientMass Action Team, and a new Office of Climate Science will support agencies and municipalities in integrating climate change information into their plans and projects.
Flooding from Precipitation
This summer has brought heavy rainfall and significant flood damages across Massachusetts. The farming sector have been hit especially hard. These impacts are only expected to increase with climate change. ResilientMass identified inland flooding as the most significant climate hazard in Massachusetts. By 2070, Massachusetts is expected to receive 12 to 42 percent more winter precipitation, and the frequency and intensity of precipitation events is also increasing. Environmental justice and priority populations live near commercial and industrial buildings that have a 57 percent higher risk of flood damage than the rest of the state.
ResilientMass identified several priority actions to address this increased risk in flooding, including:
- EEA, Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will develop a statewide floodplain management plan to coordinate agencies and partners across the Commonwealth.
- The Executive Office of Economic Development will lead efforts to evaluate flood resilient construction standards in the state building code and develop a guide for municipalities to take impactful zoning actions to strengthen resilience to flooding.
- The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities will conduct feasibility studies and implement resilience improvements to reduce flooding and heat risks at climate vulnerable state-aided public housing developments.
- The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources will continue to expand its ClimateSmart Agriculture Program to support agricultural operations to proactively assess risks from climate change and implement practices to build economic and environmental resilience.
According to ResilientMass analysis, the average summertime temperatures in Massachusetts will feel like those in Maryland in 2050, North Carolina in 2070, and Georgia in 2090. Environmental justice communities will experience acute impacts. Forests and other natural ecosystems will also experience significant strains.
ResilientMass will guide key initiatives to mitigate extreme heat equitably:
- The Executive Office of Health and Human Services will coordinate a multiagency effort to develop and implement a new Heat Flag system to effectively communicate heat risk to the public.
- DCR will work to improve more shaded areas and cooling structures on its properties, with priority given to properties in environmental justice communities.
- EEA and DCR will also expand their successful Greening the Gateway Cities program in Barnstable, Malden, Taunton and Worcester. The team will be working towards planting 800 trees per year in these four priority environmental justice communities experiencing significant urban heat island effects and other climate impacts.
Coastal Flooding & Erosion
Massachusetts is planning for sea level rise of up to 2.5 feet by 2050 and 4.3 feet by 2070 (compared to 2008 mean sea level) if global emissions are not significantly reduced.
ResilientMass prioritizes the following actions to address coastal climate impacts:
- The Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) in partnership with many agencies will develop a coastal resilience strategy that considers climate-resilient development and standards in vulnerable areas and develops best practices for coastal adaptation.
- CZM will develop best practices for the redesign of seawalls and revetments considering climate change.
- MBTA will update its engineering design standards and emergency response plans to incorporate climate resilience and develop a GIS viewer for real-time storm response.
Office of Climate Science
EEA has launched an Office of Climate Science to increase state agency, municipal, and public access and understanding of statewide climate change projections and trends and to provide technical assistance and guidance. The Office of Climate Science will convene a climate science advisory group of academics and researchers to share latest climate research findings, identify research gaps, and inform best practices.
EEA, in partnership with the MEMA, awarded $6.3 million in funding to agencies to implement key plan actions, building on the $13 million awarded thus far. These include resilience improvements at state-aided public housing authorities, expanding the climate smart agriculture program, and updating environmental regulations to consider climate change impacts. EEA has also brought on a new Deputy Director of Climate Resilience and Finance to identify of new funding and finance streams for state and local resilience projects.
FEMA Federal Support
FEMA recently announced that three Massachusetts resilience projects will be reviewed for over $60 million in funding from the nationally competitive Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program. These include the Chelsea and Everett’s Island End River Coastal Flood Resilience Project, MBTA’s Blue Line Tunnel Airport Portal Flood Protection Project, and Avon’s Emergency Interconnection Pump Station Project.