Gov. Baker wavers on signing Massachusetts climate bill due to concerns over fossil fuel limits

Source: By Larry Pearl, Utility Dive • Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the National Clean Energy SummitMassachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Stringer via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, R, is having a difficult time deciding whether to sign a major climate bill due to a provision that would allow 10 communities to ban or restrict the use of fossil fuels in new construction projects along with other concerns, CommonWealth reported Tuesday.

“That part of the bill gives me agita,” the governor said, according to CommonWealth. “One of the big decisions we have to make is whether my concerns about that particular piece, which cuts at something I think anybody would agree is a very significant problem in Massachusetts, overwhelm the rest of the good the bill does.”

The bill, approved by the legislature July 31, also requires all new vehicle sales in the state to be zero emission beginning in 2035, reduces the state’s dependence on natural gas, and calls for a study on medium- and long-duration energy storage systems, among other provisions.

Because the bill was passed on the last day that the legislature was authorized to meet in formal session, lawmakers cannot override a potential veto by Baker.

Baker declined to sign an earlier version of the bill and sent it back to the legislature with several amendments, including one that weakened the provision allowing 10 municipalities to require all-electric new construction. The legislature then amended Baker’s amendments, rejecting his changes to the 10 communities provision along with some of his other proposed changes.

“I’ve expressed deep concerns about what I view as the exclusionary zoning provisions with those 10 towns,” Baker said Tuesday, according to CommonWealth.

The governor also expressed concerns yesterday over the lack of funding in the bill.

Meanwhile, a Barr Foundation poll released Wednesday of registered voters in Massachusetts found that 68% of those surveyed believe a transition to clean energy is realistic, a 10% increase from a similar poll in 2020, Axios Boston reported.

Baker has until Aug. 11 to sign or veto the bill.