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Monday, March 22, 2021

Chamber Issues Statement in Support of Senate & House Enacted Climate Legislation

 Chamber Issues Statement in Support of Senate & House Enacted Climate Legislation

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Senate and House enacted climate legislation that puts the state on a path to a net-zero emission future, and we pledge to be a partner in working through the difficult challenges of implementing this legislation in the coming decades in a balanced and pragmatic manner. Greater Boston's business community – especially those in the real estate, construction, and development industries – has a proven track record and experience with sustainable design and building that will be invaluable as we move forward. 

As urged by the Chamber, the amended bill removes vague language around which type of projects will require environmental impact reports.      

The bill also restores the net zero requirement in the municipal stretch code opt-in, which the Chamber opposed, but as noted above we pledge to work with the state, other stakeholders, and proponents of the net zero requirement toward implementation. In creating the municipal stretch code, the following will be necessary for success: 

  • Robust Stakeholder Process: Significant stakeholder involvement is needed prior to developing an updated stretch code. It is imperative that the state proactively include real estate developers, public utilities, and the business community in an extensive and thoughtful development and review process to ensure measures in the stretch code are practical as well as financially and technologically feasible.
  • Balanced Implementation:  The proposed stretch code must consider differing building types and their uses. This is particularly true for complex buildings, such as hospitals or laboratories. The tiered implementation plan should balance decarbonization with the reality that buildings serve different purposes, and some will require more flexibility in achieving emissions reductions.  

As we embark on meeting our ambitious climate goals, the state must also acknowledge and prepare for a dramatically different infrastructure to support ubiquitous electrification. This means new electric vehicle charging stations, additional power lines, and substations. Over time, the political reality will emerge that the same communities that support net zero historically have opposed projects that support the electric grid. Going forward, this will be a tension that lawmakers, advocates, businesses, and local communities need to navigate. 

The state will also have to consider other implementation challenges created by efforts to reach net zero by 2050. A separate plan requires that by 2035 the state phase out new sales of gas-powered light duty vehicles. While this will go far to reduce transportation sector emissions, it will also reduce gas tax revenues which provide a crucial source of transportation funding. The Chamber has highlighted this long-term challenge for several years. To prepare for this inevitability, we urge the Legislature to restore language proposed by the Chamber and included in last session’s transportation bond bill that was vetoed by Governor Baker to form a mobility or Roadway Pricing Commission. With the passage of this climate bill, such a commission now plays an even more important role. 

This climate legislation is a strong blueprint that creates a path forward for Massachusetts to lead the nation in sustainability efforts. The business community and the Greater Boston Chamber are ready to be partners in this vision and work collaboratively to navigate the challenges described above, and others, as they arise.

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