$10 billion bill offered to power climate legislation
By: Chris Lisinski Posted: Feb 17, 2021 / 09:54 AM EST / Updated: Feb 17, 2021 / 09:54 AM EST
BOSTON (SHNS) – Arguing that Massachusetts will not be able to meet the goals of a major emissions reduction bill without additional funding, Rep. Bill Driscoll and environmental activists unveiled a new bill aimed at raising and investing $10 billion in green infrastructure and other mitigation strategies by 2030.
Driscoll’s legislation (HD 1972) would extend carbon pricing on emissions to industries that do not face those mechanisms currently, such as heating, which the Climate XChange Education and Research group said could raise $500 million to $750 million per year. The bill calls for market-based pricing mechanisms on electricity, transportation, heating and the industrial sector.
Tim Cronin, Massachusetts state director for Climate XChange, said that 87 percent of carbon pollution from fossil fuels in Massachusetts happens “without any consequences paid for the damage it causes.”
The 29-page bill would also authorize $500 million in annual bonding for climate- and environment-related capital projects.
Cronin said the Driscoll legislation that supporters dubbed the “Green Future Act” would complement the climate policy bill (S 9) lawmakers have now approved twice.
“What the Green Futures Act really does is create a plan so we can equitably and sensibly raise money to spend on those infrastructure investments, those local investments, if we’re actually going to try to get to 2030 and 2050 goals,” Cronin said in an interview. “The Legislature’s roadmap bill sets those targets, and this bill gets to those targets.”
The legislation could raise $10 billion by 2030, supporters say, and would distribute those funds through four main channels: a statewide Green Infrastructure Fund that would invest in electrifying transportation and constructing more renewable energy capacity, local aid to help cities and towns pay for climate-related projects, clean energy workforce training and development, and direct cash payments to lower-income households most at risk of climate change impacts.
“Covid-19 is showing us the real world impacts of health disparities linked to the climate crisis, specifically air pollution and a history of under investment in overburdened communities across the Commonwealth,” Driscoll, House chair on a new COVID-19, Emergency Preparedness and Management Committee, said in a statement. “Now is the time to invest in green infrastructure, to boost our state’s post-covid economy with big investments that reverse a year of deep job losses and cuts to local spending.”
Climate XChange estimates that the Driscoll bill would create 80,000 jobs and direct a total of $4.5 billion by 2030 to environmental justice communities and those most impacted by the pandemic.
Boston would receive more than $23 million per year in state funding to use on green infrastructure, the group estimated. Lawrence, Brockton and Quincy would each receive more than $3 million annually, while smaller towns like Beverly, Northampton and Franklin would get $500,000 or more every year.
The Baker administration set a statewide target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Lawmakers are weighing Gov. Charlie Baker’s amendments to a wide-ranging climate policy bill that Baker vetoed the first time they approved it at the end of the last lawmaking session.
The bonding authorizations included in Driscoll’s proposal were built on the foundation of legislation the House approved last session, Cronin said.
In July 2019, the House unanimously approved a then-Speaker Robert DeLeo bill to borrow and distribute $1.3 billion over a decade for municipal climate resiliency projects. The bill died in the Senate.