Massachusetts climate change executive order

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order last month setting a comprehensive approach to climate change.  Executive Order No. 569, Establishing An Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth, directs state agencies to take a portfolio of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect against the impacts of climate change, and improve resilience.

The order opens with acknowledgements that climate change and associated extreme weather events present serious threats.  It also notes the state's Global Warming Solutions Act, and the greenhouse gas emissions limits mandated by that law -- a 25% reduction below 1990 levels, achieved by 2020.  Following a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court earlier this year, regulations under that law must establish "declining annual aggregate emissions" for greenhouse gases.

Turning to action items, Executive Order No. 569 requires the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to publish a "comprehensive energy plan" within 2 years, with an update every 5 years thereafter.

The executive order also requires the Department of Environmental Protection to issue regulations to ensure that Massachusetts meets the 2020 statewide emissions limit required by the Global Warming Solutions Act.   Pursuant to the executive order, these regulations must be finally promulgated by August 11, 2017.

Executive Order No. 569 also requires coordination between the state's Energy and Environmental Affairs and Public Safety offices, with respect to strengthening community resilience, preparing for the impacts of climate change, and preparing for and mitigating damage from extreme weather events.  Within 2 years, this coordination will result in a Climate Adaptation Plan presenting a statewide adaptation strategy.

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