State Legislation on Climate Change

MCAN works to:

  • Support local MCAN chapters to implement change at the municipal level.

  • Advocate at the state and regional level for policies and programs that make a difference.

  • Facilitate peer-to-peer learning and tool-sharing.


With that in mind, here is the legislation we are actively supporting in the 2017-2018 session:

Top Priorities

Increasing Our Renewable Energy:

We need more clean energy, and one great way to move the clean energy market forward is to have the utilities buy more of it. We support increasing the Renewable Portfolio Standard by 3% each year, driving demand for renewable power and growing our local clean energy industry. We also support a statewide solar target of 25% solar by 2030 and eliminating the solar net metering caps. We believe that municipal light plants should be included in the state’s clean energy goals.

HD2706/SD1846 An act relative to solar power and the green economy - Rep. Mark / Sen. Eldridge

HD2700/SD1876 An Act to Increase the RPS and Ensure Compliance with the GWSA - Rep. Khan / Sen. Pacheco


Providing Access to Solar for All:

Everyone should be able to get their power from the sun, no matter their community and no matter their income level. This legislation ensures fair compensation to low-income solar and to community-shared solar (net metering) for low-moderate income customers, encourages projects that expand access to communities facing barriers, and directs the Department of Energy Resources to address barriers like income, housing type and language in their program design.

HD3396/SD1831 An Act relative to solar power equity in low-income and environmental justice communities Rep. Holmes / Sen. Chang-Diaz


Making Polluters pay through Carbon pricing:

One of the best ways to discourage behavior we don’t want is to put a price on it, and studies have shown that pricing carbon would cut our carbon pollution by up to 10%. This legislation would establish a common-sense fee-and-rebate system of carbon pollution fees charged to fossil fuel importers. The revenues from those fees would go into a dedicated fund, from which each state resident would receive an equal rebate, and employers would get rebates based on their number of employees. 

S.1821 An Act combating climate change – Sen. Mike Barrett

H.1726 An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs - Rep. Benson


Additional Important Bills

Getting Rid of Fossil Fuels:

We support legislation to ensure the public’s ability to intervene at the DPU and hold local distribution gas contracts to high standards regarding the capacity they are allowed to buy. We also support legislation to ensure that electric and gas consumers can never be forced to subsidize new interstate gas pipelines.

HD3400/SD1847 An act clarifying authority and responsibilities of the department of public utilities - Rep. Kulik / Sen. Eldridge

HD2698/SD1855 An Act protecting ratepayers from gas pipeline expansion costs - Sen. Jehlen / Rep. Gordon


Protecting All Communities:

Environmental Justice (EJ) is based on the principle that all people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. We support codifying environmental justice definitions and protections into law as this law would do, and altering the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act to incorporate environmental justice concerns into its reviews.

HD2913/SD426 An Act relative to environmental justice and toxics reduction in the Commonwealth - Rep. Dubois / Sen. Eldridge


Just Transition at the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant:

We support efforts by legislators on the Cape and South Shore to (a.) require the owner/operators of any existing or future nuclear reactor in the Commonwealth to pay into a post-closure trust fund until decommissioning is complete so these activities will not end up being paid for by Massachusetts taxpayers, (b.) expand the Emergency Planning Zone beyond the current 10 mile radius, and (c.) require licensee to maintain offsite emergency management until removal of all spent fuel from cooling pool.

S1837/H1765 An Act relative to the prompt decommissioning of nuclear power stations - Sen. deMacedo - Plymouth

H1131 An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius - Rep. Cantwell – Marshfield


Community Empowerment:

We support this legislation to allow cities and towns to set their own course for their energy future. This bill empowers local communities, through a democratic process, to finance and support projects of the community’s choice.

S1834/H1745 An Act for Community Empowerment – Senator Cyr and Rep. Haddad


A few notes:

This list is not comprehensive! There are other pieces of legislation that we think are great. These are the pieces of legislation we anticipate talking to you about throughout the session and asking you to engage on. If you would like to have your town or city officials support one of these pieces of legislation, consider having them make a call or sign a letter (for materials and guidance, email us at You can also access a downloadable PDF of this information here.


Previous Legislation

An Act to Promote Energy Diversity, Chapter 188

Signed into law on August 8, 2016, an Act to Promote Energy Diversity became a major first step in expanding clean energy in Massachusetts. The bill includes major offshore wind legislation, an important amendment on gas leaks, and plans for energy storage.

To learn more about the victories from this bill, visit our Omnibus Fact Sheet.

Looking Ahead

This year’s clean energy legislation was a significant step in expanding clean energy in Massachusetts. From here, we want these positive changes continue, and we would like future legislation to be bold and visionary.

Our goal is to see legislation that appropriately cuts climate change causing pollution 80% by 2050, which is the scientific consensus of what needs to be done. We also need interim targets and check ins, to make sure that we are on track to meet our long term goals.

Better energy legislation will help our cities and towns move to clean sources of electricity, with good jobs, more comfortable homes, and plentiful green spaces for community members to enjoy. We would also like to see legislation that prioritizes energy efficiency for all, and great transit options.

So what would be in a great bill?

Solar - One other necessity for an effective clean energy plan that does the job on climate is solar. Because this was not adequately addressed in the 2015/6 session, this needs to be taken care of at the start of the new session. Massachusetts needs to make policy changes that will increase the amount of solar electricity that’s available to everyone. Getting rid of the net metering caps so that projects that benefit local communities and create clean safe jobs  can move forward is important. It is important to make sure that these projects are on even footing with dirty energy, so that they can fairly compete.

RPS - One way for this legislation to be successful would be to increase the renewable portfolio standard (RPS). By increasing the RPS, the utility companies take on more of a responsibility for distributing renewable energy, taking off some of the dependence on dirty energy.

Offshore Wind - The state also needs to continue moving forward with offshore wind. A major barrier to these types of projects is financing, so developing a comprehensive mechanism to help these projects move forward is a major piece that still needs to be .

Energy Efficiency - The cleanest energy is energy that’s never used. By increasing our commitment to energy efficiency, we can make our buildings and homes more comfortable and save on our electric bills.

Storage - Treating energy storage as an energy procurement is a good start, but we need to make sure that this aspect of the clean energy market is appropriately incentivized and continues to grow.

Accountability for All-  Making sure the utility companies are a major player and an equal partner in solving climate change.


Say Thanks

This bill would not have been possible had it not been for the champions in our Massachusetts state legislature. Be sure to Tweet out your thanks to these wonderful advocates!

Senator Ben Downing- for his excellent championship of clean energy and climate change in general (@BenjaminDowning)

Representative Lori Ehrlich- for her great work with the gas leaks amendment (@loriehrlich)

Senator Bruce Tarr - for his hard work in fighting for increasing the renewable portfolio standard (@SenBruceTarr)

Representative Patricia Haddad - for her championship of offshore wind in the state (@rephaddad)

Senator Anne Gobi - for her efforts in reforming energy storage (@AnneGobi)


The Green Communities Act, Chapter 169

Signed into law July 2, 2008. Increases opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable generation, aligns Massachusetts building code with the International Energy Conservation Code, and provides new programs for municipal clean energy development.

Want to learn more?

The Green Jobs Act

Signed into law August 13, 2008. Funds clean energy educational opportunities, allows for the creation of a Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Institute at a state college, and an Entrepreneurial Fellowship program to assist business developers entering the clean energy field.

The Global Warming Solutions Act, Chapter 298

Signed into law July 7, 2008. Requires Massachusetts to develop programs, policies, and regulations to ensure a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020. The 2020 reduction may be increased by up to 25% below 1990 after administrative hearings.

The Massachusetts Stretch Code to the State's Base Energy Code

Adds optional requirements and benefits for communities that adopt it. Will go into effect in 2010. See an overview of the benefits and requirements for communities of the Stretch Code.

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