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Massachusetts Legislature passes sweeping climate bill

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, shown at a campaign rally in 2014, is considering a sweeping clean energy bill passed by the state legislature Monday. Photo courtesy of Facebook/UPI
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, shown at a campaign rally in 2014, is considering a sweeping clean energy bill passed by the state legislature Monday. Photo courtesy of Facebook/UPI

Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The Massachusetts Legislature on Monday passed a sweeping climate bill that sets a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, sets criteria to address environmental justice issues and creates rules to increase wind and solar energy.

The bill, called An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy, now goes to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.

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The legislation seeks to bring offshore wind energy procurement to 5,600 megawatts; calls for emission reductions in the state's energy efficiency program, MassSave; and increases support for clean energy workforce development programs.

"We took a historic step in the fight against climate change, putting Massachusetts on the path to creating a cleaner, greener and healthier future for the next generation," Senate President Karen Spilka said in a Twitter post. "I am thrilled to see this legislation codifies our shared goal of reducing harmful carbon emissions to zero by 2050, and creates new energy initiatives and standards to help us reach that target."

The bill calls for utilities to make contracts for another 2,400 megawatts worth of offshore wind projects along with the 3,200 megawatts of capacity already required. It also increases the speed contract auctions happen.

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The legislation allows for municipalities to develop new codes that could require new buildings to be "net zero" and lets large businesses and commercial landlords to sell wholesale power generated from rooftop solar at retail rates.

"Amid the unprecedented public health and economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, I'm proud of the legislature's ongoing commitment to protecting our environment," former House Speaker Robert DeLeo said. "The actions the House and Senate took today will keep Massachusetts on-track to lead the nation in clean energy and environmental policies."

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