Massachusetts Senate Unanimously Passes Carbon Tax Bill


The Massachusetts Senate on June 14th unanimously passed a mammoth climate bill that contains instructions to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions. S. 2545, “An Act to Create a Clean Energy Future,” does not actually set up a carbon tax. Instead, according to a press release republished on the Wareham Wicked Local, it “requires the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to establish market-based compliance mechanisms to maximize the ability of the commonwealth to achieve its greenhouse gas emission limits for: (i) the transportation sector not later than December 31, 2020; (ii) the commercial and industrial building sectors not later than December 31, 2021; and (iii) the residential building sector not later than December 31, 2022.”
Unlike previous bills considered by the Massachusetts legislature, S. 2545 is not a “revenue neutral” fee-and-dividend bill. It has been reported that the Massachusetts House may not be receptive to the carbon fee provisions in the bill because the House has the constitutional right to initiate revenue measures.
The bill, sponsored by Senators Marc Pacheco (D) and Michael Barrett (D), contains numerous other provisions, including: increasing the amount of renewable energy that must be purchased by retail electric suppliers from an additional one percent annually to an additional three percent annually; removing the net metering cap for non-governmental solar installations; and establishing “an energy storage system target program to achieve a statewide energy storage deployment target of 2,000 mega-watts by Jan. 1, 2025.”
If enacted, the legislation would extend the regulations promulgated under the Global Warming Solutions Act beyond the current sunset date at the end of 2020 and set statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits for 2030 of up to 45% below 1990 levels and for 2040 of up to 65% below 1990 levels. The bill also sets a ten-year ban on hydraulic fracturing, prohibits state pension funds from investing in coal, and increases the offshore wind mandate from 1.6 to 5 gigawatts.