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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Massachusetts Legislature Passes $2.4 Billion Environmental Bond Bill

Massachusetts Legislature Passes $2.4 Billion Environmental Bond Bill
BOSTON – Representative Ultrino joined his colleagues in the Legislature who voted today to pass a $2.4 Billion Environmental Bond Bill focused on improving climate change resiliency and adaptation; enhancing environmental and natural resource protection; and investing in parks and recreational assets.
The legislation passed today ensures that Massachusetts can continue to plan for global warming and a changing climate, including along our vulnerable coastlines.
“It is important to invest money and resources into preserving our environment which is why I was so happy to support this bill. The funds allocated in this legislation will help improve infrastructure, conservation efforts, and restoration programs” Says Representative Ultrino.
“Climate change is a real and present threat to Massachusetts, and we must treat it as a priority,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “These investments in our communities, coastlines, and in overall climate resiliency highlight our joint focus with the House on preparing Massachusetts’ infrastructure for the future, and safeguarding our residents from potential environmental disasters. I thank the conferees for their dedication to preparing this vital legislation.”
“These investments protect critical natural resources, preserve our parks and recreational areas and aim to make our Commonwealth is more resilient to the threats of climate change for years to come,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to fund these important initiatives.”
Among other spending, the bill appropriates:
  • $225,000,000 for community investment grants;
  • $100,000,000 for energy and environment coastal infrastructure;
  • $100,000,000 for state hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and resilient land conservation;
  • $75,000,000 for municipal vulnerability preparedness;
  • $55,000,000 for river and wetland restoration programs;
  • $54,000,000 for rural investments.
Today’s bill also requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to coordinate and strengthen the Commonwealth’s climate resilience and prepare for climate change impacts; publish an integrated state climate adaptation and hazard mitigation plan every five years; and establish frameworks for state agency and municipal vulnerability assessments to be included in the state plan.
Additionally, the legislation creates and funds a Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund to fund the implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act, the state’s Clean Energy and Climate Plan, and state and local strategies for climate adaptation.
“This bill comes results from a lot of collaborative work between the House and the Senate and I’m very pleased to see it move forward,” said Senator William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), the lead Senate conferee.
“I was very pleased with the hard work and collaboration put forth by my colleagues in the House and Senate in crafting an important environmental bond bill,” Representative David Nangle (D-Lowell). There were some significant differences between the House and Senate versions of this bill, but after several sessions we finalized a bill that includes funding for hundreds of worthy projects across the state, as well as a state-of-the-art agricultural composting program, a commission to study ocean acidification, a global warming solutions trust fund, an agricultural estate tax credit, and significant funding for a lobster and fisheries processing study. Taken together, this $2.4 billion dollar bond bill makes great strides towards making Massachusetts a national leader in environmental protection and control.”
The Environmental Bond Bill also emphasizes the importance of public and parkland throughout the Commonwealth, appropriating $150,000,000 to tree planting, urban and suburban parks, EEA land acquisition, and trails.
"Having the opportunity to be on the conference committee and work with my colleagues to ensure every part of the state will benefit from sound environmental investments and policies was gratifying,” said Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer).  “We are very fortunate to have so many wonderful natural resources and this bond bill helps to make sure that those resources will be protected and conserved for future generations."
“As Chairman of the Environment Committee, I am proud to say this bill is an amazing example of bipartisan effort and compromise,” said Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Chair Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “I’m grateful to Speaker DeLeo for including me in this conference process, and to my colleague, Representative Nangle for his leadership and understanding while we championed the issues we believed were most necessary for the environmental benefit of the Commonwealth. I understand neither side got everything it wanted out of the compromise, but I believe we’ve come out with a strong bond bill, funding necessary projects and environmental investments across the state, including an agricultural estate tax credit, integrated state climate adaptation plans, and an investment in preserving our cities and towns. This bond bill aims to preserve our land, restore dams and seawalls, and support various community investment grants which will all have lasting effects on our communities.”
Other highlights of the bill include the creation of the Agricultural Innovation Fund to finance grants for the Commonwealth’s agricultural and cranberry producers; and the Fishing Innovation Fund for the design, construction and modification of commercial fishing vessel; and for research, development, acquisition and deployment of advanced or innovative technologies such as sonar, satellite, radar and radio communications.

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