Massachusetts governor vetoes major climate legislation citing economic concerns

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a comprehensive climate bill that would have required the state to procure 40% renewable energy by 2030 and make clean energy more accessible to low-income populations. According to AP, the governor chose to veto the legislation for economic reasons, saying it could have potentially increased the cost of housing and prevent construction of affordable developments.

Democratic leaders in the Massachusetts House and Senate vowed to quickly pass the legislation again in the new session.

Vote Solar expressed its disagreement with the Governor’s decision. Northeast Director Stephan Roundtree Jr. issued the following statement:

“Vote Solar is disappointed that Governor Baker has vetoed S.2995, the Commonwealth’s critical climate change and environmental justice bill. As the U.S. suffers yet another ‘hottest year on record’ we’re sorely reminded that we cannot wait a month, week or day to address the crisis facing our planet and our Commonwealth. When we procrastinate on climate now, we pay with our cherished landscapes, our livelihoods, and our health.

“This outcome is particularly disappointing because in addition to positioning Massachusetts as a leader on climate-readiness, the bill addresses environmental inequity and injustice. Communities of color, non-English speaking and under-resourced communities across the Commonwealth will continue to bear the brunt of the climate impacts this bill so thoughtfully and robustly sought to address. We fear the consequences of justice delayed.

“Vote Solar would like to thank our legislative leaders including Speaker Spilka and Chair Barrett, as well as Speaker Mariano, Chair Golden, the conference committee and other members of the legislature for their careful consideration of the bill, and for making admirable efforts to hear from constituents and advocates on the final product. While the bill was never a complete picture, it was far and away more than we have. We now urge the legislature to act on their stated intent to refile and pass the bill immediately in the new session.”

Boston-based nonprofit community finance organization BlueHub Capital also took issue with the decision.

“In order to address the impacts of climate change, people of all incomes need to be part of the solution. The bill vetoed by Governor Baker would have removed some of the key challenges to bringing solar power to low-income residents and would have allowed thousands of households in Massachusetts to access affordable, clean solar energy for the first time,” said DeWitt Jones, president of BlueHub Energy, in a statement. “We are disappointed this legislation was rejected but we are hopeful that House and Senate leadership will refile this landmark bill and pass it promptly. Massachusetts has some of the highest electricity costs in the country, and utilities bills are often cited as a major challenge for families with low incomes. We need to remove these barriers to solar power to help our neighbors with low incomes and to see meaningful progress on climate change.”