Amid alarming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Senator Cindy F. Friedman joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate recently to pass, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward, or the Drive Act. The bill addresses climate change in three primary areas; clean energy, transportation, and buildings. The aim is to achieve the ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions throughout the Commonwealth by 2050, which the Legislature codified into law in 2021.
“The Drive Act continues these efforts by addressing opportunities to respond, including expanding clean energy initiatives, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, and promoting the construction of energy-efficient green buildings,” said Friedman.
Around 20 percent of Massachusetts greenhouse gas emissions come from the power plants that fuel its energy grid. Supporting clean energy alternatives is necessary. This bill allocates $100 million to a Clean Energy Investment Fund to support infrastructure development in offshore wind, solar, and energy storage.
Transportation is the largest source of fuel emissions in Massachusetts. The bill takes steps to encourage the use of electric vehicles, including allocating $100 million for the state’s MOR-EV electric vehicle incentive program. Starting in 2028 every passenger bus used by the MBTA will be a zero-emission vehicle. By the end of 2040, the MBTA would be required to operate exclusively zero-emission vehicles.
Tackling the emissions from the building sector, the bill creates a 10-municipality demonstration project allowing all-electric building construction with local approval. There will also be enhancements to the Mass Save program, which provides rebates and incentives for owners and renters related to efficient appliances and other home energy improvements. Beginning in 2025, Mass Save funds will also be limited in most instances from going to any fossil fuel equipment.
Since the Drive Act and the open space bill build off previous bills passed through the House, the differences will need to be worked out by both branches before the bills advance to the Governor’s desk. Having only passed in the Senate, the home heating oil spill bill will now go to the House for further consideration. For amendments and more visit cindyfriedman.org.