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MA Issues New Clean Air Regulations to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

January 13, 2017

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Department of Environmental Protection has drafted a new clear air regulations proposal. The proposal would aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further after MA’s Supreme Court ruled the state was not doing enough to cut them. Under the proposal, utilities would have to purchase generation credits from zero-carbon sources at 16 percent by 2018 and 80 percent by 2050. The Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act requires that the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

With this 80 percent decarbonization goal, MA is aligned with the Paris Climate Accord. But in May, the MA Supreme Court ruled that the state needed to enforce stronger emission reductions to comply with the goal. The DEP draft is a response to that ruling, and hopes for a 7.2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in by 2020.

Utilities would be required to purchase MWh-credits for clean generation at 16 percent of their retail load by 2018, 18 percent by 2019, and percent by 2020. After 2020, the standard would increase by 2 percent every year until it hits 80 percent by 2050. Renewables, nuclear, and fossil generation with carbon capture would generate the credits. Utilities should be familiar with this kind of structure because it mirrors the existing renewable portfolio standard. The formal, public comment period on the proposal is open until February 24, 2017. Hearings will be held in beginning of February in various locations. The hearing schedule is listed on the DEP’s website.