Advocacy update: Confronting climate change in Massachusetts

  • US & Canada

On Feb. 7, Governor Baker returned the Next-Generation Roadmap bill to the Massachusetts Legislature with amendments. The governor previously vetoed the bill and in response, lawmakers quickly re-filed, passed, and returned an identical bill to the Governor’s desk before the end of January. 

Baker had previously cited insufficient time to amend the bill and concerns about potential misalignment between the legislation and his administration’s 2050 Decarbonization roadmap report and a draft Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) for 2030. These two reports and an accompanying letter of determination “detail policies to equitably and cost-effectively reduce emissions and combat climate change” and set the 2030 GHG emission limit at 45% below 1990 levels. When pressed, the administration dubiously claimed achieving 50% by 2030 would cost $6B.

A joint op-ed between Health Care Without Harm and the Alliance for Business Leadership called for the legislature and Governor Baker to work together to pass the Next-Generation Roadmap bill stating, “this particular piece of legislation will set in motion an economically-sound, equitable, clean energy transformation that is aligned with the net-zero future that the next generation deserves.“

Health Care Without Harm continues to work with advocacy partners, members of the Baker administration, and the legislature regarding provisions in the bill. In addition to supporting the more stringent 2030 target and sector sublimits, Health Care Without Harm strongly supports efforts to further strengthen the state’s environmental justice policy, updating it for the first time in two decades. Two of the state’s leading health systems, Boston Medical Center and Mass General Brigham are among those who have supported these updates

Massachusetts’ legislative session, which is two-years long, just began on Jan. 5. Rather than draw out the enactment of the climate bill, there is broad support to resolve the bill swiftly and to turn attention to its implementation and pursuit of other policy priorities before the filing deadline for new legislation on Feb. 19.

One priority on the horizon is a re-file of An Act Protecting Public Health and Reducing Health Care Costs in Massachusetts (also known as the Health Equity Calculator bill). This bill would enable Massachusetts to better account for and integrate health benefits into decision-making, including related health care cost savings or containment associated with energy policy implementation.  

If you are interested in learning more and getting involved, please contact Eugenia Gibbons, Health Care Without Harm’s director of climate policy in Massachusetts.