January 15, 2021
Sarah Dooling, Massachusetts Climate Action Network
Contact: [email protected]
Governor Baker’s veto of the Next Generation Roadmap Bill (S 2995) is deeply disappointing. The bill had overwhelming legislative support, the result of the leadership of Rep Tom Golden, Sen Mike Barrett, a broad coalition of legislators and the work of grassroots advocates who laid the groundwork for popular support.
The bill was the most comprehensive climate legislation put forth in Massachusetts in over a decade. Statewide greenhouse gas reductions were established, with interim emissions reduction targets, to get the Commonwealth to net zero by 2050. The bill also directed investments in clean energy and workforce development, prioritizing minority and women-owned businesses.
The Governor’s veto perpetuates the burdens Environmental Justice communities have endured that benefited white, affluent communities for generations. Protecting EJ communities is the first step in supporting a holistic recovery from the overlapping impacts of the Covid pandemic, climate crisis and longstanding housing unaffordability. This past year revealed how suffering from the disproportionate effects of climate change makes Black and Brown communities more vulnerable to COVID-related deaths, because they live in neighborhoods and housing that are more toxic and more polluted compared to white neighborhoods.
The bill gave communities three years to opt-in to the net zero stretch code for all new buildings, ensuring new construction is energy efficient, comfortable, and safe, and responding to the calls of municipal leaders across the state. The Governor mistakenly assumes the cost of these upgrades would hinder the construction of urgently needed affordable housing. Quite the opposite: Net zero upgrades constitute a small part of a typical project’s construction costs. The money invested upfront for upgrades is recouped in dramatically lower operating costs. This is not a cost problem – this is a political problem.
The Governor’s veto is a temporary setback. The Next Generation Roadmap Bill is crucial to ensuring a just transition that protects Environmental Justice communities, transforms our building sector, and advances statewide climate solutions. We thank the advocates who worked so hard to get this bill to the Governor’s desk. MCAN looks forward to the leadership of Speaker Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka in promptly refiling the bill