Decarbonization Bill Passes 37-3 |
Senate Session Summary – Thursday, April 14, 2022
State House News Service
The Senate voted 37-3 along party lines Thursday on a major decarbonization bill (S 2819) aimed at reining in emissions from the transportation, building and electricity sectors and accelerating the rollout of clean energy sources. Senators wrapped up their final roll call as the clock approached 11 p.m. after approving 45 amendments — many of which were adopted with one vote as a bundle that received no description or debate on the floor — to expand the legislation’s scope. Among the most significant changes to the bill are a new goal for additional offshore wind procurement and a mandate for the MBTA to wind down its use of diesel trains. By responding to a House-approved offshore wind industry overhaul bill with a far more sweeping energy proposal, the Senate set up an all-but-inevitable conference committee showdown poised to determine how the Legislature follows up on last year’s law setting a target of net-zero statewide emissions by 2050. The Senate also approved legislation dealing with open space (S 2820) and home heating oil leaks (S 2821) before adjourning for the holiday weekend. Senators will return to session on Tuesday. – Chris Lisinski
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Session Audio: 11:07 a.m.-12:43 p.m. | 12:46 p.m.-1:26 p.m. | 2:12 p.m.-3:33 p.m.
CONVENES: Sen. Brownsberger of Belmont banged the gavel and called the Senate to order at 10:19 a.m. Sen. Rodrigues of Westport was also on the rostrum.
PLEDGE: Members, staff and guests rose to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
RECESS/RETURN: The Senate recessed at 10:20 a.m. and returned to order at 10:25 a.m.
RESOLUTION: The Senate adopted a Sen. DiZoglio resolution marking a 100th birthday.
EXTENSION ORDER — JUDICIARY: The question came on S 2632 granting the Committee on the Judiciary until Friday, April 15 to report on Senate bills 47, 368, 920, 923, 932, 937, 945, 946, 976, 980, 984, 985, 989, 996, 1014, 1035, 1037, 1048, 1051, 1057, 1060, 1067, 1091, 1101, 1112, 1124, 1133, 1134, 2599 and 2607.
Sen. Tarr asked for an explanation of the extension order being sought.
Sen. Eldridge said, Thank you for the question. I rise to request this extension order. This is seeking an extension on 30 Senate bills, it expires tomorrow and the bills in this order that are currently being polled by the committee that six bills be reported favorably, five bills be sent to study and 19 be extended so the committee can continue to work on them. Thank you.
Sen. Tarr said, I appreciate the explanation and the nature of the request and the work being done to methodically deal with the bills remaining in committee.
The extension order was ADOPTED.
DUXBURY SELECT BOARD: The Senate engrossed H 3937 changing the Board of Selectman in Duxbury to the select board.
SICK LEAVE: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 4582 establishing a sick leave bank for Anastasios Milonopoulos, an employee of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.
RECESS/RETURN: The Senate recessed at 10:30 a.m. and returned to order at 10:31 a.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY: After hearing no objection, the Senate proceeded with the Orders of the Day.
ARLINGTON WATER AND SEWER: The Senate ordered to third reading H 3749 authorizing senior water and sewer discounts in the town of Arlington.
PRESERVING OPEN SPACE: The Senate ordered to a third reading H 851 preserving open space in the Commonwealth. Sen. Brownsberger then declared that he had acted in error and that the matter would be PASSED OVER.
RECESS: The Senate recessed at 10:32 a.m.
At 10:59 a.m., Sen. Barrett of Lexington and Sen. Rodrigues of Westport chatted with aides by the Ways and Means desk. A Sen. Pacheco aide reviewed papers on his boss’s desk. Sen. Edwards of East Boston chatted with Clerk Hurley and former Counsel Sullivan at the rear of the chamber. Sens. Tarr of Gloucester, Keenan of Quincy, and Gobi of Spencer were also in the chamber.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 11:07 a.m. with Sen. Brownsberger of Belmont presiding.
CLIMATE CHANGE – EMISSIONS REDUCTION: Question came on ordering to a third reading H 4524 advancing offshore wind and clean energy, coming first on a Ways and Means amendment substituting a new text (S 2819) to which several amendments had been filed.
Sen. Barrett said I’m very pleased today to be speaking in favor of this bill, known to some folks as the DRIVE Act. Last year’s climate bill was about laying out a plan for tackling this formidable challenge of climate change. This year in this bill we propose to begin to execute on the plan. If you like metaphors last year was about laying out a roadmap and today we start traveling down the road. That’s why this is all about implementation. I reference for example the provision in the bill which would make sales of internal combustion engine cars illegal beginning in 2035, an idea originally advanced by Sen. Hinds. This is why specifically we talk about increasing the subsidies for purchases of individual electric vehicles, an idea first advanced by Sen. Creem. This is why we are concerned to incentivize additionally the purchase of used EVs because we want to make this electric vehicle revolution approachable, an idea first advanced by Sen. Crighton. We put the subsidy for new and used EVs on a stable footing, an idea advanced by Sen. Rodrigues. We focus on getting chargers deployed throughout the state, a particular concern of the president. In other areas the focus is relentlessly on making this stuff actually happen. We certainly have an eye to the distant future as well. I’ve been talking about near future. But we have an eye on tomorrow’s innovations too, which is why we amend the definition of clean energy and clean energy research in the enabling statute for the MassCEC to include for the first time nuclear fusion. We know about seminal research being done in Devens with worldwide implications and we add nuclear fusion to the panoply of options the MassCEC can now nurture. We go further. We clarify and make clear that network and deep geothermal and can be part of the charge of the CEC, too. At the same time, you know sometimes traveling down the road and not just sketching out a map involves the question of what to remove from an older set of tools, so we propose removing biomass — used to generate electricity — from the current technologies that benefit from the so called renewable portfolio standard. This is an idea first advanced by Sen. Lesser. You will hear today a good deal about offshore wind, an important priority, from my friend from Taunton Sen. Pacheco. This particular bill at every turn profits from ideas contributed by my colleagues, even more than the 2021 Climate Act which involved deep drilling into the innards of the MassSave statute or the enabling statute for the DPU. Because this is about execution, implementation, we depended on priorities proposed by colleagues in the form of bills they submitted which were heard usually by the Committee on Telecommunications Utilities and Energy, given affirmative ought-to-passes, reported into the Senate, so there’s a solid parliamentary basis for these ideas. I am so happy this Senate has the courage to move beyond roadmapping and beyond laying out a template, to get to the question of execution. It’s tough stuff, tougher actually than laying out the plan is implementing it. We’ve reduced our options as a world and we make difficult choices to go ahead. We’re going to hear all about them today, also a healthy set of counterarguments too as we always should and always welcome. But I am pleased my colleagues are prepared to deploy options only embraced heretofore maybe by California. What they have done has turned out to be very useful as we outline our own approach. We’re joining with one or two other vanguard states. I am proud that’s the case, I welcome today’s debate, and I thank every senator for contributing something useful to this bill’s crafting.
RECESS: Sen. Brownsberger declared a brief recess at 11:15 a.m.
Sen. Brownsberger gaveled the session to order at 11:16 a.m. but gaveled immediately back into recess as President Spilka of Ashland walked past the rostrum and greeted him. The president talked with Minority Leader Tarr by his desk.
The chamber began to fill with additional senators, including Sens. Pacheco of Taunton, Rausch of Needham, Eldridge of Acton, Cyr of Truro, Friedman of Arlington, Creem of Newton, and O’Connor of Weymouth.
RETURNS: President Spilka gaveled the Senate to order at 11:27 a.m.
SENATE COUNSEL DiTULLIO: President Spilka said good morning. It’s good to see all you folks here. I am very pleased to announce James DiTullio of Arlington has been appointed as Senate counsel. So at this point in time I would like to ask the senator from Middlesex, Ms. Friedman, to escort James DiTullio to the rostrum to take his oath of office.
Sen. Friedman posed for a photo with Mr. DiTullio on the way to the rostrum.
SWEARS IN NEW COUNSEL: President Spilka administered to Mr. DiTullio the oaths and affirmations of his new office. President Spilka said congratulations.
The president and counsel posed for a photo.
President Spilka said I think many of you know Mr. DiTullio. We have so much going on in the Senate. This is a very busy time. We are excited about having him back. Want to thank his parents, Rosemary and Fausto. You’ve done good, done good. We’d like to invite both of you up here for a moment to take a picture as well. Thank you for joining us.
After another photo and more applause, President Spilka recognized former Senate Counsel David Sullivan who was also in the chamber, which prompted cheers from some attendees.
BACK TO CLIMATE: Sen. Brownsberger took back the gavel and called the Senate to order at 11:32 a.m.
Sen. Tarr said Mr. President as we gather here today we are going to make critical decisions about the future of this state, about where our energy comes from, how it impacts our environment, impacts our economy, and impacts our quality of life. This chamber is not a place where it’s been unknown to have extensive debates about this matter. We have an extensive legacy of addressing critical issues of environment and energy in the state. Today is another of those days when we seek to lead on those issues which can be difficult, certainly are complex, and are most impactful. I want to thank all members working on this issue particularly my good friend from Lexington who has pulled together a bill for our consideration throughout this day. I also want to thank my friend from Taunton, a consistent and powerful voice regarding climate change, decarbonization, and developing energy independence. Throughout this day we are going to consider things with deep ramifications. Mr. President while Minority Crescent appreciates —
Sen. Rausch called out loudly over the din of conversation and sought recognition. She then said Mr. President I cannot hear the gentleman. Please bring the Senate to order.
Sen. Brownsberger directed the Senate to come to order.
As Sen. Tarr resumed his speech, the sound effect of a whinnying horse — possibly an agricultural-themed ring tone — was picked up by the microphone and played over the chamber’s sound system.
Sen. Tarr said as we go through this debate today our request is that we keep an open mind, we think about all the possibilities, and we think about the most effective way to take action to advance our common agenda and what we agree needs to be addressed. I hope we remain thoughtful and seek during this debate, once again, the most effective and expeditious ways to address critical issues we need to address now so decisions and actions can be taken to have positive benefits in the near term and set the stage for even more effective action in the long term. All the while, Mr. President, we need to be mindful not only of our aspirations but also of the realities we must be considerate of. The impacts on those who pay the bills. The realities of needed supplies of energy that have yet to be identified much less come into existence. The realities of maintaining a reliable grid for transmission of energy. While we continue to look through and process amendments and the pending bill, I hope all those considerations will guide us to get to a place where we can – at the conclusion of today’s debate – join with our House colleagues in the very limited time remaining in this session and be able to produce a workable document that makes it to the desk, for the approval of, and to receive approval of, the governor. There are many things we could consider and in due time should. But at the moment we have a task – to advance the agenda of eliminating carbon emissions from the environment. And the time frame we have to take that next step is the end of July. I hope we’ll bear that in mind and produce a concise, effective, cost-effective document that does not reach beyond its means but finds a way for us to move forward. We will have many amendments offered along with our colleagues who are not in Minority Crescent and I hope those principles will guide our consideration.
Sen. Creem of Newton said as chair of the Senate committee on Global Warming and Climate Change this session I’ve chaired several hearings on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I’m thrilled this bill makes important strides in those areas. Tackling emissions in transportation and buildings, helping the state determine the future of the gas system. I found one challenge in this policy area is maintaining hope. My own granddaughter told me it is too late to address climate change and we’ve all seen discouraging reports. It’s important to heed experts’ warnings but it is equally important to acknowledge our successes and be hopeful about the future. Today we are debating and hopefully passing a bill to help us reach net zero emissions by 2050. It’s an impressive achievement to offer a sense of progress and a feeling of hope for the future. I’d like to address a few policies in the DRIVE ACT that give me and hopefully my granddaughter a sense of hope about the future. Today we invest substantially in zero emission vehicles and chargers and set the MBTA on a path to electrifying its bus fleet. We are increasing the size of rebates and making them available at point of sale. We’re providing an additional $1,000 incentive to those who trade in a gas powered vehicle when they purchase a zero emission vehicle. For someone tempted to go electric, the additional incentive might put them over the edge and help us get another EV on the road. Ridesharing vehicles spend more time on the road than typical vehicles which makes them ripe for electrification, so electrifying Lyft and Uber will deliver outsized emission reductions. On buildings, buildings are a major contributor to emissions and sources that have been difficult to address. At a hearing last fall we heard about several problems with MassSave, a primary tool for reducing building emissions. We are introducing reforms today to better align MassSave with our climate mandates. Beginning in the 2025-2027 plan, the bill before us prohibits MassSave in most instances from using funds to support installation of new fossil fuel equipment. It also makes it easier to use MassSave funds for projects involving renewables and storage. That is important. It’s time for MassSave to focus exclusively on investments to reduce emissions. Isn’t that what our last bill did, after all? Isn’t that what we asked them to do? Communities around the state including in my own district in Brookline and now a petition from Newton are ready to lead on building electrification but existing state law is holding them back. In case that narrow net zero stretch code doesn’t come out the way it should, DRIVE ACT takes the step of allowing certain communities to restrict the use of fossil fuel in new construction. I hope those community efforts will be a success and that we can build on the success in years ahead. We still have to figure out what to do with existing gas distribution system, a complex system the Legislature must help answer. The state will make monumental decisions in the next few years about the gas system and it is hard to overstate how important those decisions will be in our ability to achieve net zero. Today we shape the DPU’s investigation to ensure it is headed in a direction consistent with our climate mandates. We heard two concerns this month about the ongoing investigation. One, the AG’s office and others were concerned the investigation is not considering the GSEP program through which gas companies plan to replace, not fix, but replace existing pipelines. Investing 40 billion dollars in pipelines over the next two years is, needless to say, not the best use of our ratepayers’ funds. This directs DPU to convene a working group on how to align GSEP with state climate requirements. There are alternative approaches. We could repair leak prone pipes instead of replacing them. The second concern we heard is that climate groups and others have not been given adequate opportunity to scrutinize and contest proposals put forward by gas companies as part of the investigation. To ensure an appropriate process, this requires DPU to hold a full adjudicatory proceeding before approving a company’s decarbonization plan. The process to determine our future must be through open and transparent process. I hope we stay engaged in this question in years ahead because it will certainly require our attention and intervention. We can rest on our laurels but we have to move forward. We can’t be sitting back, we must not be resting, we must be moving forward, and as soon as we do, we must contemplate the next step forward. I am proud of this bold step and I look forward to future steps.
Sen. Hinds said we have to be focused on throwing everything we have at climate change. Given that we are too late, frankly, there is no step too large and no shift in our daily activities that is too dramatic. I want to dwell on one transformative change being advanced today in the transportation sector. Our state has started outlining plans to reach net zero by 2050. With 40 percent of emissions coming from transportation sector, it is past time to focus there. We have not done enough. A proposal I introduced — that Massachusetts require all new cars sold here to be zero-emission after 2035. I want to point out the industry is already going in this direction. By 2035 GM plans to have an all-electric fleet. We can’t even anticipate what the industry will look like in 2035. GM just agreed with Honda to sell EVs under 30,000 dollars by 2027. We can see the downward pressure. Ford has announced billions in new EV and battery plans. The F-150 truck itself is already electric this year. The transformation is happening because consumers say they prefer the performance of EVs and want to help reduce emissions in the most emitting industry we have. The auto industry made those pledges but the government has a role to play too. We have to be a part of investing in our charging stations to ensure folks can afford them. We need to be a part at this stage that affordability is not a factor as well. When you have California making this commitment as they did in 2020 — and they pledged billions to charging stations — and New York followed suit in 2021 and pledged 1 billion for charging stations and more, Massachusetts can and must follow suit. When we say to the industry that these three states are going in this direction, it tells the industry there will be a market here. There is urgency in this state to take this step. Massachusetts is signaling to the car industry that we must go in this direction. This is a historic inflection point. Let’s be clear about that. We can barely envision where the industry will be. We must start sending signals today, not tomorrow.
Sen. Tarr moved that Amendment 155 be taken out of turn. There was no objection.
TARR AMENDMENT 155 – Sustainable and economically viable clean energy future
Sen. Tarr said an operative question we must discuss at the outset is what is our appropriate starting point? What are the things we must do immediately to advance the cause of removing carbon from our environment? In a way that does not cause economic hardship for employers or consumers? It’s a question with time remaining only until the end of July as to what we should put on the plate so we can have a reasonable expectation of getting it done. Make no mistake, there is a question of urgency here as well that dictates we must take action. I appreciate comments about how it seems like it was just yesterday we celebrated passage of a climate bill, and it does seem like that. But it’s also reasonable that we do take successive steps to build on the predecessor acts of legislation, now law, that have gotten us to the point we’re at. It’s also important to understand we have little luxury here for slack and lost time and inefficiency in the legislative process. We are faced with enforceable criteria, benchmarks, that demand pursuant to the Global Warming Solutions Act, that we must meet. We created them and we have an obligation both statutory, judicially, and morally, to meet them. So the prime question before the Senate today is what are the most effective steps we can take? It is in that spirit that from Minority Crescent we offer the substitution that now pends before the Senate in the form of Amendment 155. I’ll ask the members’ indulgence because it takes a while to explain an entire substitution. I’ll aim to be respectful of both the document and our time. I want to begin by referencing something I touched upon in my opening remarks. I have called once again upon the Minority Print Shop to set that up. There is a stark reality we need to confront. It needs to occur in this bill. (A Sen. Tarr aide set up an easel and displayed a chart.) When we looked at the ISO New England fuel mix for yesterday, — this is approximately 11:42 a.m. — we wanted to understand for New England what the fuel mix was at that moment in time. Obviously it varies but within a range. So as of 11:42 a.m. on the 13th, on the website of the ISO New England which is responsible for dispatching electricity to consumers across the New England by calling upon suppliers to dispatch that electricity into the grid, we looked at the fuel mix chart. As of 11:42 on the 13th of April, here’s what it looked like. 52 percent was provided by natural gas. 24 percent of the electricity supplying New England was from nuclear generation. 13 percent was generated by hydroelectric generation. And there was a small amount of coal, then we get to 11 percent for renewables. 11 percent. That’s the number we need to think about. If we can’t find effective ways to change this, we won’t be able to reduce this, and if we don’t reduce this, then quite simply we cannot meet our goals under the Global Warming Solutions Act. (Sen. Tarr gestured to various areas of his chart.) There has been a question of what should be in that bundle of renewables. One thing we must take note of is how we have struggled to find hydroelectric sources we can transmit from other places. Hydroelectricity is important in the sense it does have capability to come the closest of the renewables to supplying base load. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of that 11 percent of the renewables. (Sen. Tarr’s aide swapped charts on the easel.) As of 11:42 on the 13th, we look at the renewables. And we find 38 percent of that fuel mix is solar energy. We find 36 percent is trash to energy. 36 percent. That’s something we need to think about. 19 percent is supplied by wood and woody biomass. 19 percent. 7 percent is supplied by wind, and landfill gas is 38 percent of the entire fuel mix. So the reality we face is, how are we going to change the picture on the first chart while understanding the realities of the current supply in the fuel mi of renewables on the second chart? There are many things we can and should discuss, many of which we’ll discuss today. But we need to be focused and concentrate on how we will address these issues along with accelerating the decarbonization of other sectors, so that we increase supply of beneficial renewables and reduce the carbon emissions that are contributing to the problem we’re trying to address. To set the basis for that discussion — to act now, to be able to come up with powerful tools — we offer a substitution that is as follows. I would point out this substitution does include some of the same elements as the bill released from Ways and Means. There is agreement on some elements. The first thing the substitution does is something overlooked far too often, that is basic, that is powerful. That’s carbon sequestration. In the last roadmap bill we thankfully adopted legislation incorporated into that bill requiring EEA and DCR to look at the state’s inventory of resources capable of carbon sequestration. The idea here is that sequestration is one of the few, maybe only, things that takes carbon in the environment now out of the environment. Takes it out. That’s a game changer. It’s one of the things we can do right now to bend the curve in a cost-effective way. The first part of our substitution identifies funding sources for this. The second part of the amendment is similar to the bill that now pends. It incorporates additional technologies into being supported by the CEC. Those include nuclear generation, geothermal, deep geothermal, and energy storage. I call particular attention to energy storage. If we cannot receive more hydro, we must address base load. One effective way to do that is to have storage that can supply the grid when things like wind and solar are supplying intermittent amounts of electricity. We similarly include in the amendment the clean energy workforce and market development program. That is not different. And we also, as the underlying bill does, create the energy investment fund. The underlying bill commits 250 million dollars from the budget, presumably from surplus funds which we at the moment have an ample amount of. The substitution creates a fund and receives that 250 million, and also receives 250 million of remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds. I know the gentleman from Ways and Means is surprised that out of the roughly 2.5 billion remaining from ARPA that we’re only using 250 million. But I know he and I both respect not drawing too much on those resources. So we create a fund of 500 million dollars. Everyone who’s spoken so far in this debate has spoken about the need to place everything we have behind the effort to reduce emissions, bend the curve of climate change, and accelerate decarbonization. Yet we have roughly 2.5 billion in discretionary ARPA funds. We know we face economic uncertainty but we are saying it would be a wise investment to put 250 million of that into this once-in-a-lifetime funding. From that centralized fund, which would be administered by EEA with advice and counsel of various Cabinet secretaries, that not less than 30 percent would go into the clean energy investment fund to support infrastructure for the industry. There’s also a fund to increase rebate amounts for EVs and add charging stations. Both of those things, I would point out, were the subject of bills we filed as gas prices started to increase. And at this moment I don’t believe our bills were ever admitted. So we place it here as a point of agreement with the underlying bill. We have electric charging stations and EVs contained in the Ways and Means bill developed and designed by my good friend from Lexington. We also know as we look at transportation that we have to look at other, larger fleets. We restrict our goals if we stick to passenger vehicles. We create a fleet modernization fund in this amendment to look at larger fleets to give grants to school districts, RTAs, and then to look at commercial vehicles not held by those entities, and provide a tax credit for the trading in of existing high-emission vehicles that comply with the U.S. EPA’s requirements known as Tier 3, that prescribe all new vehicles must have reduced emissions. We can accelerate that with a financial incentive, and our fleet modernization fund does that. Then, perhaps the most critical element of funding we have is an electric grid capacity and resilience fund. This is critical. If we are going to change that picture, we have to identify sources, transmit them, and deliver sources of renewable energy to consumers all across the state. This fund provides the resources — not more than 5 percent of the entire fund, but serious resources — to look at the entire grid and its vulnerability to weather events, ability to handle increased load and to incorporate more energy from renewable sources, and to look at obstacles to doing those things. How many of us have heard in recent months about obstacles we face regarding interconnection of renewable sources into the electric grid. how many times have we heard it? That there’s a storage project or renewable project either slowed completely or made infeasible by the cost of trying to develop the interconnection. If we don’t address this, we’ll never get to what we want to get to, which is incorporating more and different types of renewables into the electric grid. This is pressing. It is urgent. And it is now. In another point of agreement, we have language that mirrors the Ways and Means bill relative to agricultural and horticultural lands. Also similar to the underlying bill we propose eliminating the so-called donut hole for solar energy. Similar also, we would remove utilities from the role of making the final decision about offshore procurements. We agree they should not be the ultimate arbiter of those agreements. We reduce remuneration on those contracts, and allow the cap to remain in place to protect ratepayers from cost spikes. We establish a fisheries commission to allow fishery stakeholders to convene and make recommendations on addressing potentially adverse impacts of offshore wind. We also require transmission to be bid independently from generation, so we can find the best value and best price for consumers. We require the MBTA within 12 months to submit to us a plan to by 2032 operate all zero emission vehicles. There are a lot of subjects we can talk about. I’m sure we will. This substitution would begin the conversation of addressing the most immediate needs we have. Being able to address transportation sector, not just passenger but also commercial vehicles and school buses and RTA buses. Looking at ways to generate more robust research and give the Clean Energy Center needed resources. And it specifically uses, very carefully, money from the ARPA to double the resources available for the goals we set forth here, goals we believe we can all agree on. On that point I would suggest there are certain restrictions on ARPA money not present for state money, which is why we require combining them in a central fund, then depositing amounts from that fund into other funds. I appreciate the members going through a very long amendment, which is a substitution. We did send the summary last night to the staff in every office. Appreciate the chance to have the conversation. I hope we will start this debate by agreeing to the basic things we need to address and by putting more resources behind them, more requirements into them, to address reducing emissions, transmitting more renewable resources, and accelerating research for the next climate bill which surely will come. And it will come very soon as has already been alluded to.
Sen. Tarr sought a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.
Sen. Barrett of Lexington asked for a brief recess, which was granted. Time was 12:18 p.m.
Sen. Tarr’s aide broke down the easel and put away the chart.
The Senate returned to order at 12:19 p.m.
Sen. Barrett said tip of the hat to the Minority Caucus and particularly the Minority Leader. How many other legislative bodies these days in the country do you see unanimity on core ideas, healthy differences too, but unanimity on core ideas, between the two parties? We’ve heard it consistently here in the Senate. I recall last year on the Climate Act, the significant contributions intellectually and on policy made by our Republican colleagues. I appreciate that in the end members of the Republican delegation voted for that 2021 effort. What we’ve heard thus far today is an emphasis on the things that unite us across partisan lines. I appreciate the leader’s description of ways in which we agree fundamentally on what we propose to do. It distinguishes us, which is a sad observation rather than an overall positive one, but I appreciate the effort. Today you will hear some elucidation of differences. I want to thank all of you in advance for doing exactly that. These efforts can always stand criticism, can always withstand a careful reading. None of them are ever perfect. I said that last year’s climate act was about laying out a plan and this is executing on the plan. Last year’s was about sketching out a roadmap and now we’re traveling down the road. It is a more difficult proposition to be in the implementation stage but we’re starting with a proper tone and for that I want to thank my friend from Gloucester. We’ve got lots of amendments and I’ll rely on the historians of the chamber but it’s been said this may be the most amendments offered to a policy bill in living memory as opposed to a budget. Yet none of the amendments here involve criticisms of any of the core principles of the bill. Instead they are genuine attempts to add constructive new ideas. That’s the kind of discussion we should be having. The GOP is contributing enormously to that. I want to thank the members of Minority Crescent and I want to thank all of you for harboring important suggestions of your own. Thank you. Oh and by the way, as long as we’re chatting, I hope the amendment is defeated. There’s no question this is a truncated version of a progressive bill. It leaves out a lot of good stuff. I hope the amendment is defeated.
Sen. O’Connor said as much as you need vision, you also need the means. We need to look at impacts of the vision in achieving our climate goals. The impact it will have on our state’s bottom line, our labor organizations, our businesses and taxpayers. In support of the amendment, we have some concerns with the bill before us. We need to start by talking to taxpayers. We need them to buy into our plans. We need to make sure they have the resources needed to transition their property to clean energy and they have the trust in their government to support the transition. If we lived in a world where non-renewable sector employees were not displaced, and where people could afford the energy we’re offering up in the bill, and where we had completely severed our relationship with fossil fuel, I think everyone would be snapping their fingers. But we have to build to get to that point, and we have to build responsibly. Responsibility means we don’t leave our residents with unaffordable costs off living when they’re already dealing with inflation and high cost of living. Our amendment addresses what I feel is a major looming economic reality involved in the underlying bill. At the end of the day, no matter how great the plan, if a plan is not sustainable it does not work. Let’s make sure what we do here today is going to work. Let’s invest in energy storage, grid capacity, continue to incentivize hybrids over gas guzzlers, expand our portfolio of renewables. Let’s understand the sustainability of our plans. I said this last week while debating the cannabis policy bill we put forward. We need to know where things are headed if we’re going to move forward with confidence. We need to see this through while setting bold yet realistic — bold yet realistic — benchmarks. This amendment stands for these principles and will make this bill more grounded. It will give these policies a greater chance of success, and at the end of the day we’re all here to make sure the work we do, our policies, will withstand the pressure of economics and have a great chance of success. I hope this amendment is adopted.
Sen. Barrett rose, then said I will yield my time and proceed.
Sen. Brownsberger said he would briefly recognize Sen. Barrett.
Sen. Barrett said my colleague raised issues with differences in approaches between Democrats and Republicans. I want to mention two. One has to do with the future of a gas proceeding currently before the executive branch. It is obscene but consequential. DPU is undertaking an inquiry into the huge part of the pie that was represented recently by my colleague. We are overly dependent on natural gas. This DPU proceeding will enable us to take a hard look at reducing natural gas use. It is very important. Currently, there is a real prospect that the proceeding will conclude in 2022. One of the differences between the Democratic approach and the Senate approach is we want to give the next governor, whoever she may be, to shape policy. We remove biomass from the definition of clean energy sources. No reason to get gnarly here. It is important that large wood-burning electric power plants not be counted as clean energy like wind and solar. I don’t need to tell people here that biomass burned at that level creates tiny particles that get into your lungs. We take biomass out of the grab bag of clean energy sources. The GOP keeps biomass intact, so legally plants can be resuscitated. I have mentioned the importance of continuing any conversation into the administration of the next governor so that she can have a chance at shaping that question. I hope the amendment fails.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE of 3-36, AMENDMENT REJECTED. Time was 12:43 p.m.
Sen. Brownsberger said the chair will advise the member given the number of amendments pending and the hour of the day, we will not keep roll calls open for more than 10 minutes. So when the roll call comes out you need to be paying attention. The chair will further advise the members that the following amendments have been withdrawn: 18, 39, 40 59 37, and 112.
Sen. Friedman said we are going to return to a matter previously passed over.
HOME HEATING OIL: Question came on ordering to a third reading S 676 relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases, with an amendment from Senate Ways and Means (S 2821) pending.
GOBI AMENDMENT 1 – Insurance Coverage Costs and Exclusion
Sen. Tarr said I appreciate the work of my friend from central Massachusetts in filing this measure which is long overdue and I know that she has presented us with an amendment. I am hoping she will speak to the amendment and bill.
Sen. Friedman said I will ask the members to keep conversations down.
Sen. Gobi said I will be happy to get to the amendment. I will talk about the bill first, I am prepared that way. I want to thank the Senate Ways and Means chair and my friend from Financial Services who saw this bill as a priority. There are 650,000 homes heated with home heating oil and most do not have coverage. Part of that is because of a flaw in the existing law. Right now, insurance options are a bit confusing. Current law requires insurers to make it available but they don’t have to talk about it. Because of that, only 7 percent of those with homes that are heated by oil are taking advantage of having a rider, which is $75 a year. Cleaner energy costs are much more than that. If you were at the November hearing, we heard from a number of people. One of the folks that weren’t there was a constituent of mine who called me. He is a farmer and had a leak in one of his greenhouses. He did everything that he was supposed to do, called everyone. And he called his insurance company. The company took three days to get back to him. He said to me, If I could turn back time, I would have started some of the cleanup. Instead, he was up to $50,000 in cleanup costs after a few days. For a farmer, taking a $50,000 hit is a major problem. He got off easy. One of the people that we heard from had a leak in August of this past year. He was $507,000 into it and he wasn’t over. He spent all of his retirement and he’s not even out of the woods yet. This is a consumer protection bill and an environmental bill. If people can have this insurance — which is what this amendment would do. It would require that everybody, it is included in everyone’s premiums. The rider is $75 a year. In addition, the other change would give protection to those who write the insurance the policy that they could have an exclusion if people cause the leak themselves or if they did not make sure their oil tank is up to par. There are exclusions. Again, this is a very good bill, one that is good for the environment, consumers, and the state. I ask for a roll call vote.
Sen. Friedman said just for clarification, it’s on the bill itself and not the amendment. OK.
Sen. Gobi received sufficient support.
The Senate adopted a Ways and Means amendment, as amended, to S 2821 relative to the remediation of home heating oil releases. The bill was then ordered to a third reading and question came on engrossment.
By a ROLL CALL VOTE of 39-0, bill ENGROSSED.
PRESERVING OPEN SPACE: Question came on ordering to a third reading H 851 preserving open space in the Commonwealth, with a Senate Ways and Means amendment pending (S 2820).
ELDRIDGE AMENDMENT 1 – Replacement Land Limits
RECESS/RETURNS: The Senate entered a recess at 1:01 p.m. and returned at 1:05 p.m.
Sen. Eldridge said I rise in support of S 2820. I am very proud to have filed this bill known as the Public Lands Protection Act to preserve article 97 protected lands. I am proud to have filed this bill for the past 10 years with Rep. Balser. This bill passed the House last year. It is appropriate we are taking up this bill with Earth Day coming up, which began in 1970. Millions of Americans demanded a cleaner environment as contaminated land was harming public health. By the end of 1970, Congress had created the EPA and passed federal environmental legislation. The state also took action here including in 1972 when we approved a constitutional amendment, Article 97. Let me read it, the following is adopted, the people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation, development, and utilization of the agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air and other natural resources is hereby declared to be a public purpose. The General Court shall have the power to enact legislation necessary or expedient to protect such rights. In the furtherance of the foregoing powers, the General Court shall have the power to provide for the taking, upon payment of just compensation therefor, or for the acquisition by purchase or otherwise, of lands and easements or such other interests therein as may be deemed necessary to accomplish these purposes. Lands and easements taken or acquired for such purposes shall not be used for other purposes or otherwise disposed of except by laws enacted by a two-thirds vote, taken by yeas and nays, of each branch of the General Court. This bill builds upon this article, putting into statute that there be no net loss of lands protected under the article. At a time when there is increased development, it is so important that land is protected. I want to thank the Senate President for taking a personal interest in this bill which addresses Article 97 protected land. Demand for land will only continue to grow with a growing population so it is essential to safeguard public lands. In addition to the Senate President, I want to thank the Senate Ways and Means chair and his staff for helping craft this bill that supports municipalities’ needs around development and the protection of public land. I also want to extend my gratitude to the lady from Needham for her unwavering support for protecting public land and ability to get this bill out. I also, given the long time that this bill has been filed, want to thank the lady from Spencer for her support. Every year the Legislature approves dozens of transfers of protected land and it causes confusion between EEA and the municipalities. The protection of public land is a responsibility of the commonwealth and any loss directly impacts people. Through the pandemic, public lands were important to everyday life for residents looking to exercise and spend time with their loved ones. Public land encourages recreation and tourism. We must also prioritize open public spaces as a necessary buffer against climate change. We are at a pivotal moment in our fight against climate change. To combat it is to reduce the burden on our children. We need to start by ensuring the benefits of public land are not lost. This bill will codify and add transparency to the process of transferring land. It requires that comparable land be provided for each land transfer, prior notification of proposals, and alternative analysis and that any petition to the Legislature be accompanied by the analysis. Further, it directs EEA to promulgate regulations. This will reduce the time it takes for any of us to pass Article 97 home rule petitions. This bill exemplifies the strength of organizations here who have been advocating for it for three decades. I want to emphasize that this bill creates a viable structure, so it is a balancing act between municipalities and the right to protect open space. On a district note, it is not just something that I have filed, but it was passed on to me by my predecessor. This legislation and protecting open space is deeply held in my district. If this bill becomes law, the Legislature will be putting its statutory authority behind this policy. I also want to thank my environmental policy advisor who has done tremendous work and show patience.
Sen. Eldridge asked for a roll call on engrossment and received sufficient support.
Sen. Rausch said as the chair of the Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, I rise in favor of this bill and extend my gratitude and congratulations to my colleague, the senator from Acton. The Public Land Preservation Act is a clear symbol of our appreciation for public land and strengthens economies and mitigates the impacts of climate change for all who call this state home. Public lands are essential for the well-being of Bay Staters. Nothing has made that clearer than the global pandemic. After months of being home, people here gained a newfound appreciation for public lands in Massachusetts. I have had the priveleges of visiting many of these locations. As a mom, I found peace in these lands, in the natural world, particularly through the pandemic. It has been game-changing. My family and millions of others have experienced the value of the lands and what they bring to our communities. We must do everything to preserve them, for our community, children, and for our children’s children. I am thrilled and grateful that we are taking up this bill, knowing the impact it will have on the environment and the joy of future generations. Thank you to our Senate president for bringing it to the floor, to the Senate Ways and Means chair, and to everyone’s staff for their work I look forward to voting yes on this bill.
The Senate adopted the Ways and Means amendment, as amended, to S 2820 preserving open space in the Commonwealth. The bill was then ordered to a third reading and question came on engrossment.
By a ROLL CALL VOTE of 39-0, BILL ENGROSSED.
CLIMATE BILL AMENDMENTS: Sen. Friedman said returning to the bill before us, the following amendments have been withdrawn 35, 79, 83, 112, 4,2 47, 76, 71, and 90.
DUXBURY SELECTBOARD: The Senate enacted H 3937 relative to the Selectboard of the town of Duxbury.
HOLYOKE CHARTER: The Senate enacted H 4501 amending the charter of the city of Holyoke.
Sen. Friedman said the Senate will recess for 30 minutes and be back at 1:55 p.m.
RECESS: The Senate recessed at 1:26 p.m. intending to return at 1:55 p.m.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 2:12 p.m., with Sen. Friedman in the chair.
Sen. Friedman said, Returning to the bill before us.
TARR AMENDMENT 1: Increasing the conservation land tax credit
Sen. O’Connor asked that amendments 1, 2 and 3 be held. The amendments were put on hold.
PACHECO AMENDMENT 4: Building Environmental Justice and Energy Efficiency With Jobs – redraft
QUORUM CALL: Sen. Pacheco doubted the presence of a quorum. Sen. Friedman directed court officers to secure the doors and call the members. The time was 2:13 p.m.
At 2:19 p.m. Sen. Friedman declared a quorum present.
Sen. Pacheco said, Thank you Madam President and to the members for being with us.
Sen. Pacheco requested a roll call vote, and there was sufficient support.
Sen. Pacheco said, I also because it’s been a while since I have been physically in the chamber want to congratulate some of the new members that have not had the opportunity to interact the way we would like to. Today, and this amendment, I believe is one of the most important we will talk about on this critical issue of our time. For their edification and for a number of members, I just want to go through a very brief history. The pin I wear on my lapel brings me back to 2006, when I attended a forum and screening of the documentary “Inconvenient Truth,” with what is now known as the Climate Reality Project. The truth about what is happening with climate, and the world that we live in. The planet we depend upon. I remember it like it was yesterday, at Coolidge Corner, and I was asked to give some brief remarks. It was a very powerful experience. At that point in time, I had chaired the Committee on the Environment. I had heard countless witnesses testify about climate and the environment, but until I saw the tragedy that was unfolding on the screen, that made all the difference. It was telling us the inconvenient truth, which is if we kept on doing everything we were doing, wouldn’t have to worry about the planet. The planet will take care of itself. It will be all the species, all of humanity, that we have to worry about. It was about time that we started to defend the planet against all of us before the planet decided to defend herself. We’re starting to see that happen in a big way globally and right here. After that night, myself and a number of legislators went on a tour of the commonwealth — out to Berkshires, Western Mass., down the Cape, all across. Finally, from 2006 to 2008, two full years, listening to people. We finally passed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 putting in place the requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact we passed a suite of legislation back then, five bills designed to curb statewide emissions to prevent and prepare for a growing global climate crisis. We updated RGGI, the regional greenhouse gas initiative, that we began to work with other states in our region to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, huge gap in time there, 2008 to 2016, we finally got an act to promote energy diversity. Listening sessions, went around the commonwealth. We passed a law that is simply amazing. We look at it today, the creation of yet a new industry in offshore wind that hopefully will be one of the biggest parts of solving the worst-case scenarios of this global climate crisis that we’re dealing with. In 2018 we added to our wind capacity, increased our renewable portfolio standard. We’ve done a lot of work. Policies we implemented have intiated our progress toward statewide decarbonization. We have been at the leadership front of trying to solve this global climate crisis. Many people have been involved, and I want to thank Sen. Barrett, Majority Leader Creem, and the Senate President for her vision and foresight way back in 2008, because she was one of the cosponsors of the Global Warming Solutions Act. I was the chief sponsor. Over the years, everyone that has been associated with the issue, I want to thank all of them. We may disagree on some strategies, we may have stronger feelings than others relative to the urgency of this problem. That’s why I wanted to talk about this issue today. It’s also, to me, and to all of us it should be, a very personal issue. Behind the numbers, no matter what set of numbers, there are real people and families that are being impacted today. Not ten years from now. Today. The policies we put in place led to unprecedented job growth in our clean energy sector. Today the sector accounts for more than $13.7 billion in gross state product. The pandemic led to about a 17 percent drop, according to MassCEC’s report last week. Last week the CEC told us that we took a 17 percent drop. The net job loss remained at 12,800, about 11 percent of the workforce. Clean energy jobs began rebounding last year, but at a slower pace than job growth statewide. The clean energy jobs lost, over 70 percent occurred in the energy efficiency clean energy subsector. Yes. People that were doing insulation, putting in heat pumps, you name it. We took a significant loss in jobs in the energy efficiency sector. This is not only an amendment that deals with bringing down carbon emissions, saving people money. It’s a jobs bill as well. This is a jobs amendment. This amendment targets a million housing emission renovations over the next decade, retrofitting and electrifying homes. It would create thousands of jobs with strong worker protections. We would transfer $1 billion in ARPA resources to the MassCEC clean energy investment fund — $350 million to carry out the building justice with jobs plan, $250 million for clean energy investment mechanisms like a green bank, and $150 million for clean energy infrastructure, with the remaining resources allocated for various decarbonization resources. Similar to many plans put out there, not the least of which was the governor who put forward a $750 million plan. This is a comprehensive strategy, with resources targeted to homes in environmental justice communities, gateway cities and where MLP territories are. You’re targeting resources toward retrofit projects, a million homes over 10 years, to really get at eliminating the waste in our energy demand. Tremendous waste in the system. When the minority party put up the charts showing where demand is going, one thing that wasn’t on the chart was the demand side. We could lower demand significantly, thereby lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Close to 40 percent. Transportation is the highest, about 41 or 42 percent. We’re close to 40 percent of emissions in the built environment. Sen. Chandler and others had an act sparking modernization of state heating systems. Those provisions are in this amendment as well. Public buildings would be prepared for future installation of electric equipment and appliances replacing those that consume oil and gas. Solar panels, electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This session, we’ve seen some historic amount of climate and clean energy bills filed, the most I’ve seen since I’ve served in the Legislature. There’s more interest today than there ever has been. We know how our constituents feel about this issue. I’m starting to see it. Just in my drive in today, I see constituents that have made their own choice and bought an EV. I passed two or three on the drive in. “While standards and timelines are great, if we don’t put the tools in the toolbox to set our commonwealth up for success, then we are setting ourselves up for the worst kind of failure.” If we just have the framework and don’t provide the executive branch with tools and resources to get the job done, it is the worst kind of failure. We have over $2 billion in ARPA funding, plus other surplus revenues. What we have in this amendment qualifies for those ARPA funds, in part because of the significant job loss we’ve seen, the connection with health care. We have a magnitude of resources available. Dealing with this most crucial issue. And then, can you think about it? Having the resources, the technology, the answers to solve the problem, and then not to do what is needed? Not to do it, not to pass this amendment? That would be the worst kind of failure. “As much progress as we have been able to achieve in the past, it’s not about the past. This year when we all seek reelection or we’re going out to talk to constituents of various issues on their mind, yes they may want to hear about some of the things we have done, but the most important thing is the future.” According to the latest reports, that future looks “pretty grim. It looks extraordinarily bad if we don’t really kick up our game. We need to do so much more than we’re doing right now.” A UN panel indicated quite simply that it’s now or never. If we don’t get it done now, we’re going to miss a crucial opportunity. Every day, week, month that goes by, we can’t get them back. We’ve lost it. When people ask me why I get so upset, because I’ve been seeing us losing those months and weeks and years since 2006, 7 and 8 when we finally started to do something. But we still have never put all the tools in the toolbox to get this done. Our current pace and policies put us on a trajectory to twice as much warming. We are on track towards an unlivable world. An unlivable world. This past year we just saw evidence right here, some of the northeasters having wind currents we never see in the northeast. Never before. It’s the first time. Being here in Boston, our capital city, extreme events, I just keep thinking back to Hurricane Sandy, if that was 200 miles north, man would we have devastation. Scientists staged demonstrations last week. According to one of the report’s lead authors, building emissions increased by a whopping 50 percent. Buildings generate nearly 40 percent of annual emissions worldwide, about the same thing here. We must eliminate those greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 to meet the Celsius climate targets. IPCC placed this issue, the central part of this amendment, as one of the most important things we need to do. Last week, for the first time in history, OMB began formally accounting for climate risks int he federal government. Fiscal risk of climate change is immense. They didn’t say just a risk, but an immense risk. The new budget analysis found climate change could lead to a $2 trillion per year loss by the end of the century. According to an analysis, climate change could reduce GDP by 3 to 10 percent by the end of the century. Everything we’ve proposed but for COVID I don’t know that we would have made the 2020 requirements. We only made them because we had cars off the road. Now that we’re back, emissions numbers are going right back on the transportation side. As good as many pieces of this bill are, I believe it lacks significantly in the built environment side of the house, so to speak, in this bill. This is about real people, equity. When you look at the underlying bill you have a significant amount going into a built environment where some communities can electrify. I’d like all communities to have the ability if they choose to, similar to what Ithaca, N.Y. is doing. Ithaca chose to electrify 100 percent. Equity in terms of that strategy doesn’t help the average homeowner, renter or family out there. As much as I love those communities, many of which are targeted, they are some of the most affluent communities not just in Massachusetts but the world. The world. So we’re missing a little equity. Amendment 6 brings equity to the table. Looking at gateway cities, municipal light plant areas, environmental justice areas. MassSave’s low-income loan program provides a $10,000 subsidy for a project that costs $20,000 or $30,000. I don’t know how many low-income residents have an extra $20,000 stored away but I would expect that’s very low. We need to do more about that and this amendment does. Approximately 460 homes were electrified, according to the Boston Globe last summer. Less than half of those were MassSave. If we don’t take bold action to decarbonize our old, leaky homes, we will not be able to comply with our laws. ARPA funds must be allocated by the end of 2024. This amendment would create thousands of jobs, improve our public health and improve equity. The roadmap tells us we must do a million renovations. This amendment helps us get there. If we go building by building without a sizable up front investment, we are missing the opportunity. This amendment helps with economy of scale. If you’re a homeowner and you want a heat pump, that’s on your own. If you’re a homeowner participating in a program where the state is helping buy heat pumps by the thousands and work with consultants and people doing insulation, you’re going to get a better deal. It costs less at the end of the day. That’s why this makes sense. I’ll give you one example. The Connecticut Green Bank announced every dollar they deposited has yielded over $7.50 as a return on investment. Loaning money for green projects, having the resources come back in. They’re doing well by doing the right thing. We can do the same. This amendment is an investment int he truest sense, a down payment that will pay major dividends on the progress we just promised ourselves at the outset of this session. We must do what we can while there is still time left to do it. This shouldn’t be about negotiations, timing or when it might be better for the executive branch of one party or the other. It should be about doing what is right based on science, facts and what needs to be done to save humanity. That’s what we’re talking about here. For me it’s the number one issue of our time. I lost my dad about three years ago. March 31. My connection with the natural world was with him. Fishing, being out in the woods, connecting with him and the world around us. He always taught us how important the world around us was for everything else we do. It’s all interconnected. It’s way beyond our understanding in many ways. That’s one reason this issue is so personal to me. It’s an environmental issue, yes, but it’s a transportation issue, a health care issue, it’s a housing issue. Take a look at your TVs when you’re watching the nightly news, what’s happening in Ukraine. This is a national security issue. Not just in Europe. This is a national security issue. And you know what? The one thing, the only one thing there’s a silver lining with this issue, is that it’s an economic development and jobs issue. We can transition into the next phase with a sustainability revolution but we need to make that investment. What are we waiting for? We had a colleague who left this branch a little more than a year ago, maybe not even, I guess it wasn’t, and he went and joined MassBio. God bless him. But guess what we did a few years ago. Some of the people here remember. We decided to take resources from our own budget, not federal money, we made choices to put $1 billion into the biotech industry. Not to save our planet or ourselves, even though indirectly they help a lot in that regard, but we put that money aside to create jobs in biotech. Great. I’m talking about the same amount of money here, coming from the federal government, to help solve the major crisis that faces us in the world today. The good news is there is a lot of agreement that this should be done. Maybe not in this building at this moment but outside this building. Let me explain. Many of you know 350 Mass, in support of this amendment. An organization called Mass Renews, New England Renews. Here’s a list of the organizations. Many are singing letters and organizing and calling your offices. AFL-CIO, 32BJ SEIU, the Sierra Club, Boston Building Trades, Disability Policy Consortium, Sunrise. Anybody hear of Sunrise? Neighbor to Neighbor, Clean Water Action, MCAN, Boston Teachers Union, Mothers out Front, Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition. All are saying the same thing. We need to decarbonize, like yesterday. Let’s get about the business of getting it done, before it’s too late. I urge passage of this amendment to eliminate waste existing in the built environment, improve opportunities for homeowners, bring down emissions, make the investments, create jobs, while at the same time having the savings go back to homeowners. I urge you to vote yes and really give this bill a section that will truly make this a comprehensive climate bill.
The time was 3:20 p.m.
Sen. Barrett said, Sen. Pacheco has been involved in these issues more than any of us have. More years, more energy and more thought; I tip my hat to him. My argument is not with his involvement but with the wording of the amendment, which essentially sets up a task force in place of the Legislature. We would be delegating our authority to an unelected body that has not a single elected official from a city, town or legislative district. This may be unconstitutional. We’re the only ones capable of issuing instructions to the appropriate administrative agencies to issue regulations and this amendment would require this unelected group to do so. It goes beyond that. It says that if the program creates new state programs — we are the only body able to create state programs and we cannot delegate that to an unelected body because it deprives our constituents of a voice in the process. We are the only body under the Massachusetts Constitution that can vest responsibility in agencies or programs. This simply is an abrogation of a sacred responsibility that we have exercised at least until now for 250 years or so. What we have is our Senate leader on climate, and I want to make it clear that that is exactly what the gentleman from Taunton deserves to be called, our leader on climate has chosen to move away from the body which he is a member and enshrine legislative responsibilities in an unelected group of which he is not likely to be a member. So good stuff here, unconstitutional stuff galore. Needs a little work, I would say, if I may understate the problem. I hope the amendment fails and that we listen to the gentleman of Taunton and assume for ourselves the responsibility he would delegate to an unelected body. We are elected by folks, the task force is not. We don’t get to escape our burden quite so easily.
Sen. Pacheco said, Thank you very much. Just want to respond to my good friend who referenced the constitutionality issues. Unfortunately the first time I’ve heard any concern about that. First time. I filed this bill along with many of you as part of the session of the Massachusetts Legislature. The bill went into — it should really have gone, in my opinion and I’ve talked to the clerk about this as well, it could have gone to the Housing Committee because we’re talking about the built environment. With climate, you have transportation, housing, health care, you name it. All across the board. The issue that the chair of TUE references, what we have in this bill is analogous to the EEAC, which is an organization that presently exists under our legislative and executive branch function. EEAC approves the MassSave plan ahead of the DPU. So I respectfully at this point in time disagree with the gentleman that this is unconstitutional and there is time throughout the process when the Senate takes a position and it goes into conference there are a lot of things that get changed significantly in conference, get changed in conference, based upon input like the gentleman just referenced. That’s not a reason for the Senate to say no today. Maybe a reason to make sure that all of these issues comply with constitutionality, but that takes place during third reading. So I’m not really worried about that. I think that there’s plenty of ways to deal with that. As far as things that can be done, this bill seeks to essentially get into — I mean, think about it. Think about what I said earlier; 2008 was the first comprehensive bill that passed. Here we are in 2022, that’s how quickly the Legislature’s worked on this thing. You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s no plan right now. I hope everybody gets that — no plan. We say we want it done. Even if you had a little bit of a plan, you’ve got nothing to accomplish the plan with. This is a plan before you with a wide variety of groups and organizations that know a little bit about the built environment and about this climate change issue and also many who have signed on know a little bit about the law as well. So I would ask that we move forward and adopt this. You take a look again at MassSave for example; pretty much the investor-owned utilities in Massachusetts are involved with the planning of how things get done. We allow them to do that. Same thing with EEAC, approves MassSave plan. We allow that to happen. I think we can do the same thing here and so don’t all the organizations I read to you. Thank you.
Sen. Rodrigues said, I rise to ask that members join me in voting no on this amendment. I will give the reasons why I think this is not the time to vote on this measure. There are absolutely some constitutional issues on this proposal where we are usurping our constitutional authority and giving it to unelected individuals. This proposal is before Ways and Means, it is an 18-page bill, it is very complicated. From our first few reviews, it is very poorly written. It needs lots of edits and work. The bill, S 2708, did not come the usual route to our committee. It went through TUE and remains there in an extension order. The bill that came to Ways and Means came as an attachment. I know that this is a very important issue to many members. Many members have co-sponsored the legislation and this amendment. I am aware of that, we are aware of that and we will give it serious review. We have about $2.5 billion left of ARPA and probably $12 billion in ideas of how to spend it. But this particular item would spend $1 billion of that $2.5 billion we have left. This would require homeowners to spend no less than $5,000 a year on maintenance. That won’t go over well in Fall River, which I represent. I ask members to join me in voting no. And I want to reiterate that I know this is an important issue for many of us. We have the budget coming up and the amount of time me and my staff have devoted to this bill should be a testament to how urgent we think this issue is. Unlike the House that dealt only with the offshore wind component, we dealt with wind, solar, buildings and transportation and we appropriated $250 million to make investments necessary to meet the goals of this bill. This is the second climate bill we have done this session with promises from the Senate president that we will do at least one more in the next session. I ask you to join me in voting no.
Sen. Pacheco said, Just want to thank the gentleman for his comments and want to make sure, because of what he just said, that it is clarified in terms of the process. The process used for this amendment is the same process every member gets to use. You put an amendment in on what you would like to see happen and that comes to the body to make a decision. I used the same process. I hope that it wasn’t implied I was doing anything inappropriate, it was part of the process that we all have to move different issues we want to be considered. The process in legislation is different and it’s the same process that every committee has. If you have a bill in a joint committee that’s consistent with the subject matter, then you can amend that bill to go beyond just the provisions of a subject matter that you have in committee to take on broader elements as long as it’s consistent with the subject matter before the joint committee. And that’s what we did with what was the Building Justice Jobs bill that became the Building Environmental Justice and Energy Efficiency jobs bill that came out of State Administration and Regulatory Oversight because I couldn’t get any action on that bill in the TUE Committee on which I sit as vice-chair. And this is the first time I heard any concerns about it. So if that communication was a little different maybe there wouldn’t be so much confusion about it. The point simply is there are plenty of examples of where we have done this before in similar fashion right within the GWSA with an organization that was created as part of that bill. And in terms of ARPA funding, there couldn’t be a better example of what ARPA funding should be used for. I know and I benefited from it, my district has benefited from ARPA funding and we all like to see those earmarks for our district and I appreciate it when we get to bring home some important district initiative. But I’m talking about life and death here. And anybody that thinks what I just said is like ‘Pacheco’s lost it here.’ Well then, I want to send you to the library to get the latest version of the IPCC report. Please read it. Jobs are plummeting in Massachusetts in the clean energy sector. They’re not going any other direction. So I urge you to think about what we’re doing. We can get to some of the details that people may want to see modified or changed. You know how it is when you have an amendment. If someone wants to be helpful, they can come back with an alternative amendment. You know? I’ve done that hundreds of times here — hundreds. Have I had anybody call me about that to come up with alternatives to this amendment? Not one. Not one call. And that’s fine, but the good people that sit here tonight, this issue is too big a deal for that. This is one of these rare moments in time. I have to read this, I wasn’t going to but I want to read this now. It’s a statement from somebody that many of us know, Joe Curtatone, former mayor of Somerville and president of NECEC. Here’s what he said about the underlying bill, he said every penny is worth the expenditure. But I want you to listen: “Unfortunately, not as sweeping as it should be. Every dollar in this bill is money well spent and addresses areas vital to our state economy, but this is not a bill that meets the moment.” That was his quote. “The UN is putting out red alerts about our climate,” he goes on, “insisting we need urgent action and this is too cautious an approach.” He points out that the governor was willing to spend twice as much as the Legislature on clean energy. Thank you.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE OF 11-28, the amendment was REJECTED. Time was 3:59 p.m. Sens. Brady, Hinds, Keenan, Lesser, O’Connor, Pacheco, Rausch, Chandler, Chang-Diaz, DiZoglio and Timilty voted ‘Yes.’
RECESS/RETURN: The Senate recessed at 4 p.m. and returned to order almost immediately.
EXTENSION ORDER — ELECTION LAWS: Question came on adoption of S 2646 granting the committee on Election Laws until April 15, 2022 within which time to make its final report on certain current Senate documents relative to election laws matters with a Sen. Finegold amendment further extending the committee’s time to report pending.
Sen. Tarr said, It is my understanding that there are two extension orders from the Election Laws Committee and I hope we can get an explanation of each.
Sen. Finegold said, We are trying to extend some campaign finance bills that we are working to find common ground on. The rest are home rules affected by negotiations we’re having with the VOTES Act. We have some that are extended to June 10, some to June 31 and one to July 31. Thank you.
Sen. Tarr said, I would suggest that we do need to be a little concerned about extension orders that run until July 31. It is deeply concerning to hear about an extension that could result in the reporting to the floor a bill on the very last day of session. I would raise a red flag here. I appreciate the work the gentleman is doing, but this is the first such order I recall seeing thus far with an extension date that is literally the last day of formal session. I hope that this committee will work to report the bills out prior to the very last day of the formal legislative session.
The Senate adopted the Finegold amendment to the extension order and then adopted the order as amended.
EXTENSION ORDER — ELECTION LAWS: The Senate adopted a Sen. Finegold amendment and then adopted an amended H 4563 granting the Election Laws Committee until July 31 to make its final report on H 4482 authorizing the town of Tyngsborough to offer early voting and no excuse absentee voting in municipal elections.
EXTENSION ORDER — ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The question came on H 4680 granting the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies until April 15 to make its final report on S 2740 relative to extending third-party delivery cost containment for restaurants.
Sen. Tarr said, I hope we can get an explanation. I would point out that the last extension order goes to the very last day of formal sessions and, if I’m correct, this one extends until tomorrow. If I’m right, it sounds extremely reasonable.
Sen. Lesser said, Thank you very much. Idle hands are certainly the Devil’s workshop so we are working vigorously in committee to get this done. The bill we need an extra 24 hours on is S 2740 dealing with a delivery fee cap. The standalone bill that would extend that beyond the period of the public health emergency is under review and because the public health situation is fluid we needed a little more time.
Sen. Tarr said, I appreciate the explanation and getting inside of the magic of the economic development committee. I would only suggest that we attach some election laws bills to it so we can get some expeditious action. This is a reasonable use of the tool of extension here.
The extension order was adopted.
EXTENSION ORDER — ELECTION LAWS: Question came on an order granting the Election Laws Committee until June 10 to report on certain House and Senate documents. The clerk did not read an order number.
Sen. Tarr said, I would remind folks that the distinguished chair already spoke to this extension order and it gives me great relief that the dial is moving back with Election Laws extension orders. I’m glad we are finding some moderation. I hope it is adopted.
The extension order was adopted.
EDIFICATION: Sen. Friedman announced that the Senate would return to the climate bill and that amendments 115, 33, 135, 136, 139 and 72 were withdrawn.
LESSER STATEMENT: Sen. Lesser asked unanimous consent to make a statement. There was no objection.
Sen. Lesser said, I want to give context about biomass subsidies, which is based on a bill I filed. The provision in the draft of this legislation we’re debating will prevent biomass not currently in operation from receiving state clean energy incentives, which means they will not be considered a renewable energy source. I’ll explain the situation in Springfield. In 2008 a proposal was put forward to put a power plant in Springfield. While the application was pending, the company edited it to include biomass. That means a power plant with a billowing smoke stack would have been placed within one of the most densely populated communities. Instead of burning coal, the only distinction is that it would burn wood. There would have been 126 daily trips of trucks going in and out of this plant depositing wood pellets into a furnace, burning those pellets at high heat and emitting that smoke through smokestacks. This would have been in an environmental justice community. As shocking as this is, the plant was actually applying for subsidies that the Baker administration made them eligible for and their line of reasoning was because they were burning wood, it would count as renewable because you could replant the trees after you cut them down and burned them. That was the argument. Does anyone think that is a good use of our state’s renewable energy subsidies paid by all of us, by ratepayers? The subsidy program was frankly being manipulated. So a community effort led by dozens of organizations and leaders across years tried to battle this plant and the key to the math working for the plant was the company being able to get subsidies from the state. And there were some regulatory changes and I’ll give the Baker administration credit that would indicate the subsidy would no longer be in place. But in the bill today we make it simpler and strip the eligibility of biomass out. So a plant like this would not even be able to apply. So if an administration changes or the politics change or a judge gives a different interpretation, the law will be clear that biomass is not going to be eligible for subsidy at all. It’s going to be a very important thing for Springfield but also for all of our communities. So I really want to thank the Senate for including this provision. This was years and years of effort and partnership to get this done. I certainly hope our colleagues in the House and the governor will take note of this. Burning wood, in many cases, is as bad for the environment as burning coal. Thank you for the indulgence.
CYR AMENDMENT 5 – Offshore Wind
Sen. Cyr said, I rise first in support of the underlying bill and want to thank all of my colleagues for getting us here today and for making sure that this body is working on the existential crisis issue of our time. The climate crisis is something that has been building for decades, for generations, and while we haven’t acted in prior generations, I’m proud to be part of a body that acted last session on the roadmap bill and is acting today on this comprehensive legislation. We know that we have so much more work to do to arrest what is happening. I have the honor but also the anxious responsibility of representing a part of this commonwealth that really is on the front line of the crisis. The Cape and Islands district has more coastline than any other district, and we see how rising seas, worsening storms, erosion and acidification is all adding up to make disaster. Cape Codders and islanders in recent years have also become very proud of our role in not only leading the commonwealth, but leading the nation in figuring out how we get off fossil fuel-based electricity but how we move toward cleaner, greener offshore wind. I was so honored in November to represent the Senate alongside the Interior Secretary to break ground on Vineyard Wind I. This is going to bring clean energy to hundreds of thousands of homes. It’s something that islanders and Cape Codders are just so darn proud of. The way that project has gone forward has really included the community, has ensured we have a maintenance facility based on-island on Martha’s Vineyard, that there are community benefits flowing to the community hosting this cable, that we’re working with labor and having a seat at the table. We’re just so hungry and eager to do so much more of this. That’s why I filed this amendment, which will create a second phase to the offshore wind procurement requirement. While 3,300 megawatts have been assigned today, adding an additional 4,400 megawatts of procurement authority as this amendment aims to do would have Massachusetts realize one-third of the Biden administration’s goal to have 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. One-third, Massachusetts carrying one-third of the nation’s goal. A 10 gigawatt offshore wind procurement is going to do a lot of things. It is going to send a signal to developers. It establishes a trajectory for Massachusetts to realize the 15 to 20 gigawatts of offshore wind that are needed under the pathways forecast in our decarbonization report. It aligns the magnitude of economic development measures proposed in other sections of this bill. This second phase of offshore wind procurement would continue solicitations to 2030 and would coincide with the expected arrival by the middle of the decade of a new lease area in the Gulf of Maine, accessible both to the North Shore and to Boston. This amendment not only expands our procurement, but it also includes provisions to ensure that offshore wind projects are developed with strong and reasonable protections that safeguard our marine environment and wildlife, especially endangered species like the right whales. Additionally, it includes provisions to ensure that federally recognized tribes within the commonwealth have a seat at the table. The Mashpee, the Aquinnah, these are the indiginous people whose land we on the Cape and islands inhabit, and we’re relying on their ancestral territories to generate this wind. The amendment also provides for making sure labor has a seat at the table in project contracts so the offshore wind industry can best contribute to a clean energy economy with thousands of good-paying jobs, particularly on our coasts. I’m proud to have worked on this amendment with all of you. I want to thank the myriad of my colleagues who have been pushing on this issue. We heard from my friend from Taunton how important this issue is, but I think all of us could speak at length about how essential it is for us to move forward aggressively on this issue. I want to thank industry and advocates for really coming together, working in concert with us to advise all of us. Having industry and environmental advocates singing from the same songbook has been tremendously helpful in getting us to this point.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
PACHECO AMENDMENT 6 – Offshore Wind Procurement
Sen. Pacheco requested a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.
RECESS: The Senate recessed at 4:30 p.m.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 4:40 p.m. and returned to consideration of amendment #6.
Sen. Pacheco said, the amendment before us is one for offshore wind as well. I was a cosponsor of the previous one that Sen. Cyr spoke of, but I’ve been working on this issue for a long time and I believe that where we are right now, we really need to have legislation that has a floor, not a ceiling. Right now, the way the previous amendment passed, there would be a ceiling at 10 gigawatts. Under the legislation that’s before you now, the amendment, there would be a floor at 10.6 gigawatts. And then, it’s really not less than 10.6, and so the administration — and that would be the new administration — could actually go out for more than 10.6 if they’re working in a regional way on a procurement with other states or ourselves and that’s simply the difference between the two amendments. Amendment #5 was very good, and I certainly supported it, but I think the idea of having that additional 6,000 megawatts — obviously, we’re going to need every single megawatt of offshore wind that you can have to get to net-zero by 2050.
Sen. Cyr said, this is something we just took up. My friend from Taunton and I, we must have been filing amendments quite simultaneously. In amendment #5, we direct the administration to get to 10,000 megawatts by 2030. We just voted for that. Perhaps I should have asked for a roll call on the last amendment. I was trying to speed up debate, I’m mindful of the clock, but considering we just adopted the prior amendment, this amendment essentially does the same thing, so I’m going to be voting no.
Sen. Tarr said, I want to say I’m glad we’re having a discussion about increasing the supply of electricity as we’re increasing the demand for electricity. That is something that has been woefully underrepresented in this discussion until now. But I’m hoping the two gentlemen will help me understand the difference between the amendments or the similarities. As I understand it, the Sen. Cyr amendment was intended to get us to a particular goal. I believe it was 10,000 megawatts. As I understand it, Sen. Pacheco has proposed we get to 10,600 megawatts but that be a floor and not a ceiling, and if additional capacity is needed to be added to meet our targets, the administration could go above our 10,600 megawatts. I’m hoping we could get a reconciliation, because it seems to me we should be pursuing as many megawatts of offshore wind as we can reasonably pursue assuming we do it in a responsible way that does not harm the ecosystem or the offshore fishing industry. It seems to me one amendment establishes a ceiling, a target, and the other one establishes a floor and allows increases beyond that number.
Sen. Cyr said, I’m glad my colleague from the rockier Cape asked this question because I was speaking hastily. The amendment we adopted, #5, 10,000 megawatts is the floor. Both amendments establish that this is the floor and allows the possibility to go higher. I expect we’re going to need to go higher in future debates. To reiterate, amendment #5 establishes a floor of 10,000, so I’ll be voting no on amendment #6.
Sen. Pacheco said, the clerk and legal counsel for the Senate president’s office have been looking at the language in the two amendments. The language in this amendment pending establishes the floor at 10.6 gigawatts. That is different, much different, than the amendment that was passed a little while ago. Amendment #5 says 10 giagwatts you have to get to — I believe the language says at least. And the one before us now, amendment #6, says 10.6 gigawatts that we would need to get to and the administration could go beyond that the way it’s structured and the way it’s designed in terms of the procurement process. It provides as a floor more megawatts of offshore wind. That’s why I offered it.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE of 5-34, amendment REJECTED. Time was 5:01 p.m.
TARR AMENDMENT 9 – Independent Transmission
Sen. Tarr said, Madam President, it’s good to see you too. I hate for this to be an anticlimactic moment, but I move the amendment be temporarily held.
The amendment was held.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 12 – Environmental Protections in Agro-Solar
Sen. Rausch said, this amendment ensures environmental protections in solar projects on agricultural land. The base bill allows for adding solar panels over agricultural and horticultural parcels, a practice often known as agro-solar. Expanding use of solar power is essential to achieving our climate goals, but we must make sure these forward-thinking energy solutions don’t have unintended harmful impacts. This amendment requires that agro-solar to have a minimal impact on surrounding environments. Numerous advocates agree that this protection amendment is necessary.
The amendment was REJECTED.
Sen. Friedman said, amendments 14 and 15 have been withdrawn.
TIMILTY AMENDMENT 17 – Fostering Student Mentorship in Clean Energy Workforce – ADOPTED
CRIGHTON AMENDMENT 20 – Congestion pricing study – REJECTED
GOBI AMENDMENT 21 – Anaerobic digestion net metering – REJECTED
JEHLEN AMENDMENT 24 – Fare-free bus transit
Sen. Jehlen said I would like to explain this amendment. First I have to express gratitude to everybody with a hand in this bill which advances the cause of combating climate change, one of the most important issues in my district and across the state. This amendment requires the creation of fare-free bus routes in the MBTA and RTAs and would seed a 20 million dollar trust fund to reimburse costs. This is appropriate for the climate bill because it encourages people to leave their cars for transit. Mode shift is a powerful tool. We are learning more about benefits and costs of fare-free buses due to pilot programs in Worcester, Merrimack, Boston, and Franklin. This reduces pollution and congestion and allows us to gather more information about benefits and costs of next steps. Fare-free routes have several goals. More people can decide to travel by bus instead of car, reducing commuting times and traffic and pollution. This policy could help achieve the ambitious goals of the roadmap bill. Commuting would be faster and more reliable for both bus and car travelers. Buses would not have to wait for passengers to pay. About a third of the time a bus spends on route is for passengers to pay. In the Boston pilot they found times reduced by 20 percent. My third point is there would be no cost for fare collection, offsetting some of the lost revenue. Bus fares represent 5 percent of MBTA revenue. The cost of the new contract for MBTA fare collection is 1 billion dollars and not yet close to completion. The new system will cost 33 million to operate every year. Compare that 33 million of fare collection cost to the 33 million that the T collects annually in bus fares. The Merrimack RTA says fare collection is clunky and inefficient. It’s important to point out bus riders are more likely to be low-income and people of color and I won’t list all the data on that. Creating these fare-free routes and systems allows us to gather data on how effective the policy achieves its goals. It also allows a cost-benefit analysis perhaps with metrics about areas it makes most sense. This is the right time for fare-free pilots. It is an appropriate use of ARPA or surplus funds. It’s a crucial time as commuting and work patterns are changing so it may be more possible to change patterns. I also support low-income fares which are important for some services. I understand the amendment is unlikely to be adopted at this time, and I ask to withdraw it at this time.
There was no objection to WITHDRAWING the amendment.
KEENAN AMENDMENT 25 – Electric Vehicle Charging Stations for Transit Users
Sen. Tarr said I’m hoping for an explanation from my good friend from Quincy about what appears to be a very consumer-friendly amendment.
Sen. Keenan said this amendment is pretty straight-forward. The bill invests in charging stations on the Mass. Turnpike for example. This seeks to complement that effort by placing charging stations in our transit hubs, particularly commuter rail, subway, and ferry parking lots. It’s important when people drive, if they can drive as little as possible even in an EV to a local transit hub, then use public transit for the balance of their trip, that benefits everybody. Changing people’s modes of transportation is an important part of what we’re trying to do with this bill. So this amendment would just place charging stations where there are transportation hubs.
TARR AMENDMENT 26 – Study on replacing forgone gas tax collection to the Commonwealth to ensure the state’s bond rating will not be negatively impacted for all new vehicles to be zero emission vehicles
Sen. Tarr said well, well, well, Mr. President. It wasn’t that long ago in this chamber that we had an extensive debate about providing a little relief at the gas pump by temporarily suspending the gasoline tax for motorists in Massachusetts. There was a lot of concern raised relative to the effect of suspending the state’s gas tax on our state’s bond rating. Well it’s interesting, because just a couple of days ago one of those ratings agencies made a proclamation that they did not think our state or other states would see significant impact on their bond rating from that particular action. But what they did say, is that they saw in the long term a threat to the sustainability of the revenue stream that supports our transportation bonds from the increasing electrification of our vehicle fleet. The individual, I believe from one of the Wall Street ratings agencies, said that is a much greater threat to the state’s bond rating than temporary suspension of the gas tax. So now we find ourselves in the chamber discussing increased electrification of our passenger motor vehicle fleet, something I think we all support, yet we see nothing in the bill – or thus far in this discussion – considering the impact on our revenue stream represented by the gas tax. It’s an interesting dynamic. There’s something we perhaps don’t want to do, then there’s something we do want to do and we look the other way on its potential impact on our bond rating. So this amendment seeks to study the issue and provide us with some information about the impact of the revenue to be forgone by electrifying our vehicle fleet which will then not be purchasing as much gasoline, on the bond ratings based in part on the gas tax. We don’t want to let the facts get in the way of proceeding forward so I hope we would adopt this amendment. The folks who in this chamber expressed concern with our underwriting ratings of transportation bonds – this would give all the advocates of protecting the bond ratings a chance to join us in supporting a study on this matter. I know given all the champions of protecting the bond rating – we’ve seen them come forward – I hope we’ll join with them and advance this amendment. I know everyone will want to adopt it.
KEENAN AMENDMENT 29 – Adding Public-Health Representation to the Stakeholder Working Group to Align Gas System Enhancement Plans – ADOPTED
KEENAN AMENDMENT 30 – Zero-Emission Passenger Bus Timing – REJECTED
MORAN AMENDMENT 32 – Innovation in Municipal Energy – REJECTED
Time was 5:19 p.m.
LEWIS AMENDMENT 34 – Maximizing emission reductions in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Program – REJECTED
GOMEZ AMENDMENT 41 – Storage Supporting EJ Cooling Centers
Sen. Tarr said I’m hoping for a brief explanation of the amendment that now pends.
The Senate stood in a brief recess at 5:20 p.m.
Sen. Moran asked that no action be considered taken on Amendment 32. Without objection, no action was taken on Amendment 32.
Sen. Brownsberger said the Senate would continue to stand in a brief recess while a remote connection is established with Sen. Gomez.
At 5:24 p.m. Sen. Brownsberger said we will put this amendment aside and move on to others.
COLLINS AMENDMENT 55 – Promoting sustainable development and infrastructure – REJECTED
GOMEZ AMENDMENT 41 – Storage Supporting EJ Cooling Centers
Speaking remotely, Sen. Gomez said this amendment would require DOER in consultation with the MassCEC to study developing technologies of energy storage systems and recommend how those systems can be deployed across the state. It also sets out scope of issues to be considered and recommendations by 2023.
FINEGOLD AMENDMENT 56 – Charging stations – REJECTED
PACHECO AMENDMENT 57 – Local Option Divestment
Sen. Pacheco said this amendment is divestment legislation. There’s been a significant movement in the state and nationally about the — and internationally — about the tremendous risk of continuation of fossil fuel investment, costs that are out there, and risk that is quite significant. The SEC and others have been having meetings on this and putting out recommendations about the risk to capital investment and in particular with public entities like public nonprofits or foundations like Harvard University, that just changed their policy and others. It makes sense for us, as we did in a previous bill divesting from Russia, in terms of what we’re doing there, in terms of investments, it makes sense to give the local pension funds the option — which they don’t have right now — to divest, depending on what their portfolio looks like and whether they feel they want to make the choice of divesting from fossil fuels. That’s what this amendment is and I hope it receives a favorable position from all the members.
Sen. Pacheco requested a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.
RECESS/RETURNS: The Senate stood in recess from 5:28 p.m. to 5:40 p.m.
Sen. Brownsberger gaveled the chamber to order and directed the clerk to begin the roll call on Sen. Pacheco’s amendment. He directed the clerk to call the chair, then voted in the affirmative.
By a ROLL CALL VOTE of 39-0, Amendment 57 ADOPTED.
Time was 5:47 p.m.
ELDRIDGE AMENDMENT 58 – Promoting Residential Solar – REJECTED
KEENAN AMENDMENT 60 – Commuter Transit Benefits
Sen. Keenan said this amendment has to do with commuter transit benefits. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort in this bill investing in EVs, calling for certain dates by which EVs must be the primary mode of transportation in terms of motor vehicles, and calling for rebates and incentives. Motor vehicles still have an advantage here regarding transportation fringe benefits. Federal law provides for a 225 dollar pre-tax benefit to commuters for certain transportation cost. Under state law, transportation fringe benefits match that benefit in some cases. However, they’re capped at 130 dollars when it comes to transit passes. So if you drive you get a benefit, pre-tax, up to 225 dollars, but if you use public transit you have a 130-dollar cap. Additionally in this state there is no commuter transit benefit for those commuting with a bicycle. This amendment aligns the state with the federal tax code to equalize it for people who commute such as bicycling or carpooling. We know because of COVID that people aren’t buying weekly or monthly passes like they were. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to buy a daily pass or a Charlie Card with money on it. When you do that you don’t get a tax benefit. Same goes with bicycles. There is no benefit for something like rideshare programs with bicycles. This creates a tax deduction not just for bicycles and their upkeep, but for MBTA fares separate from monthly passes. It would cover RTA commute costs, and bikeshare memberships. This would benefit those who use alternative modes of transit that are different than getting into an EV. We’ve talked a lot today, now tonight, about getting people to switch their modes of transportation. This is consistent with that effort. To get them off the roads and onto our public transportation, and to incentivize that through our tax code. This speaks to equity and fairness. It’s something we have not done and absolutely should do.
KEENAN AMENDMENT 61 – Including Municipally-Owned Institutions of Higher Education
Sen. Tarr said I’m hoping the distinguished gentleman from Quincy can offer a brief explanation.
Sen. Keenan said very brief. Oftentimes we talk about higher education institutions. The city of Quincy is unique with a city-owned institution of higher education. This amendment makes sure that municipally owned public higher education institution would be eligible for grants.
KEENAN AMENDMENT 62 – Expanding Access to Commuter Transit Benefits Offered by Employers
Sen. Keenan said as we talked about a moment ago with tax code benefits, there has to be a means by which to implement those tax benefits. This is one of those means. A way to get a pre-tax benefit on money they spend when commuting by public transportation. We offer pre-tax benefits for child care, investing in IRAs and 401K accounts. This would offer a pre-tax benefit for purposes of transportation. Bikeshare programs. All those types of things I mentioned relative to the previous amendment. It would be done through a simple program for companies with 50 or more employees. It would level the playing field for people who maybe can’t afford an EV but want to be part of our clean economy.
ELDRIDGE AMENDMENT 63 – Expanding Electric New Construction
Sen. Eldridge said first I want to highlight that in the DRIVE ACT I am deeply appreciative the bill includes a pilot allowing 10 communities to go all-electric. This is a moment I didn’t think was possible two years ago. I did file the statewide bill to allow any community at local-option to go all-electric. It’s crucial as we see more cities and towns take the lead on climate action that we allow these communities to experiment and innovate. I’m proud of Acton where our new fire station and elementary school are entirely powered by clean energy, specifically solar and geothermal. This amendment would expand to 40 communities, and allow Gateway Cities to participate and become all-electric. I filed this because I think it’s important that more cities and towns, but honestly more senators have the opportunity to have all-electric communities in their districts.
BARRETT AMENDMENT 67 – Utility Scale Renewable Thermal Energy – REJECTED
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 68 – Mass Save Rebates – REJECTED
LEWIS AMENDMENT 70 – Enabling the quick connection of solar panels to the grid – REJECTED
TARR AMENDMENT 73 – Ban on new fossil fuel connection
Sen. Tarr moved the amendment be held, and it was so ordered.
GOBI AMENDMENT 75 – K-12 Grants
Sen. Gobi said this amendment would add K-12 public schools to be part of this opportunity that will allow them to have some matching grants. What’s nice about this section, it talks about small-scale renewable energy and specifically biomass. Small-scale biomass has been extremely effective especially in some of my schools. I was at Narragansett a few days ago to look at their woodchip boiler. When they made the switch from oil, it saved them a large amount of money. Even though it may burn tons of woodchips, it produces less than 50 gallons of ash. That ash is then tested and used by a local landscaper in their compost. It is unbelievably clean. It gets checked by DEP for emissions. I’m happy we’ll be able to include K-12 where small-scale biomass makes a big change for a lot of people.
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 77 – Low-Income Services Solar Program – REJECTED
EDWARDS AMENDMENT 78 – Time-of-use rates
Sen. Edwards, speaking remotely, said this amendment adds a date to the section on time-of-use rates to make sure this is brought to a close. The date is Oct. 31, 2025.
EDWARDS AMENDMENT 82 – Parking Spaces Wired for Charging Stations – REJECTED
EDWARDS AMENDMENT 88 – An Act to Promote Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleets by 2035 – REJECTED
FRIEDMAN AMENDMENT 89 – Restrict the use of fossil fuels in new construction projects
Sen. Friedman said I filed this on behalf especially of my communities which have home-rule petitions to allow them to go to clean energy on new construction. I am very much in favor of this, and as my colleague from Acton spoke, he has a similar amendment. I am very much in favor of this and we need to take this very seriously. We know gas emissions in homes is a crucial, not only environmental but health concern. I do respect there are a number of issues this raises that need to be addressed and that we need to understand further. Specifically how we protect our residents from high monthly cost. While I support this and will continue to work for this, I understand we need to do some more work.
Sen. Friedman requested to WITHDRAW the amendment. No objection.
TARR AMENDMENT 91 – Conservation land – REJECTED
TARR AMENDMENT 92 – Clean Energy Investment Fund
Sen. Tarr said, throughout this debate we have heard and I agree with these sentiments about the urgency of the situation we face, about the need to accelerate our efforts to address climate change and the decarbonization of Massachusetts. This very straightforward amendment is modeled after a bill that has been filed by Gov. Baker to transfer $750 million from the state’s remaining $2.4 billion in ARPA funding to the Clean Energy Investment Fund. If we mean what we say to address this with as many resources as possible, there’s no reason not to approve this amendment because we have declared this to be an amendment we need to address with all expediency possible. I cannot think of a reason why anyone would oppose providing more resources in this category.
The amendment was REJECTED.
TARR AMENDMENT 94 – Allowing Innovation in the Energy Market
Sen. Tarr said, one of the critical issues in addressing increasing the supply of electricity is generation and transmission. This amendment creates an opportunity for harmonious interactions between those that would transmit energy generated by offshore wind and those that would generate that energy. I can’t think of why we would not want to do this. If we don’t adopt amendments like this, it’s clear we do not believe we need to press forward with every available option.
The amendment was REJECTED.
KENNEDY AMENDMENT 97 – Household Solar Panels
The amendment was REJECTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 99 – Gas Leaks and Infrastructure
The amendment was REJECTED.
FINEGOLD AMENDMENT 100 – Tax Credit for Home Charging Stations
The amendment was REJECTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 101 – Department of Utilities Disaster Relief Fund
Sen. Brownsberger said, the amendment is not adopted.
Sen. DiZoglio, who was speaking by phone and was audible in the chamber, said, hello? I’m on the debate line to speak about my amendment.
Sen. Brownsberger said, the chair is in error. The amendment before the body is amendment 99.
Sen. DiZoglio said, the devastating explosions in the Merrimack Valley on Sept. 13, 2018 in parts of my district will long be remembered. With negligible assistance from Columbia Gas, residents turned to social media for help and called my office daily. Not only was restoration of service slow, but it was erratic. We waited weeks for reimbursement, which often did not cover all of their costs. Some lost wages or missed work to keep appointments with adjusters only to discover they were not eligible for reimbursement for space heaters. Others were relocated to hotels far from homes or work, and in some cases, they were turned away for being ineligible. In a disheartening twist, our most vulnerable populations, seniors and the mentally disabled had their calls to the gas companies go nowhere. People felt small and powerless against a big gas company that minimized their very real struggles. More than three years since the Columbia Gas disaster, there remains much to be done. That’s why I filed amendment 99, which increases the reporting requirements of gas companies when they learn of gas leaks to local fire and law enforcement agencies. This amendment requires all three entities — gas companies, local law enforcement and local fire departments — report the location of the leak and any steps taken to address it. It also requires an annual review by DPU pertaining to certified pipeline inspectors to ensure an adequate number of pipeline inspectors are actually engaged in Massachusetts. Those affected continue to rebuild their lives nearly four years after the Columbia Gas disaster. This amendment will provide key tools to hold gas companies accountable and prevent future disasters.
Sen. Brownsberger said, amendment 99 is not adopted.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 102 – Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing
Sen. DiZoglio said, fracking is the process of drilling into the earth and directing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and gravel at a rock layer. This has revolutionized the energy industry at the expense of the environment. Fracking leads to a myriad of adverse impacts on the environment. Researchers at Duke University recently conducted a study which analyzed the process of fracking and usage of 12,000 wells across the U.S. They found from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well where fracking was conducted increased up to 770 percent and the toxic wastewater produced from these wells in the first year of production jumped 1,440 percent. Additionally, the study warned the water footprint of fracking could jump as much as fiftyfold in some areas by 2030, raising concerns about water sustainability. We need to ensure that Massachusetts does not go down the path of fracking in the name of short-term energy production, this amendment imposes a statewide ban around any effort of extracting toxic chemicals or the process of fracking. Even if no fracking takes place in Massachusetts, we risk being on the receiving end of the fracking boom in nearby states. To keep our drinking water pure, amendment 103 would prohibit dumping. We’re trying to move Massachusetts in a green and renewable direction. Fracking surely cannot be part of that future.
The amendment was REJECTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 103 – Preventing the Disposal of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater
The amendment was REJECTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 104 – Updating Massachusetts’ Rideshare Program
Sen. DiZoglio said, to promote clean air, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation developed rideshare in the 1970s, which promotes transportation options that result in cleaner air and faster, easier commutes. According to emissions estimates, transportation is the top emitter of greenhouse gases, representing nearly 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Congestion during peak commuting hours plays an especially large role in this. A program that has not been updated at all in the decades since requires organizations to develop plans and set goals for reducing employee and student drive-alone trips by 25 percent. As part of this process, organizations would be able to survey current commute patterns, set goals for reducing drive-alone trips and review how patterns change as a result. Current rideshare regulations require these organizations to submit some information. This amendment expands the populations of businesses and educational institutions to include those with fewer than 1,000 employees. By including them, we’ll be able to better reduce air pollution, and address transportation and climate concerns across the board. Current law requires employers themselves to submit annual reports, which are burdensome. This amendment allows employers to have transportation management associations they belong to conduct and submit those reports, which would reduce the administrative burden. Enhancements to technology and congestion on our roadways point to this being the right time to modernize rideshare. Updating the regulation will provide a significant revenue-neutral opportunity for the state to gather data and achieve air quality goals. It will also provide us as policymakers with a better understanding of transportation needs in specific corridors.
The amendment was REJECTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 107- Mesh Drainage Systems
Sen. DiZoglio said, it’s no secret that many waterways in Mass. are severely polluted. Mesh drainage systems are large nets placed at major choke points to capture trash that would normally continue floating down the waterway. Other states and countries have deployed them with positive results. In Australia, one city reported between May 2018 and June 2019, a total of 3,400 pounds of waste was removed from two drainage nets. In those months, almost two tons of trash was removed from one waterway. These nets must be expensive and require hefty maintenance to operate, right? No. The supply and maintenance was approximately $10,000 each and the nets had to be emptied only 11 times over the 13 months. This entire process is truly a win-win for all parties. Additionally, the city also pointed out the nets were cleaned a total of three times and at no point has any animal been found trapped inside. This amendment is a pretty simple one. It would allow our municipalities to implement these systems and have the commonwealth reimburse up to $25,000 for materials and installation and maintenance of mesh drainage systems to clean our waterways.
The amendment was REJECTED.
O’CONNOR AMENDMENT 106 – Energy Demand and Sustainability Working Group
Sen. O’Connor said, this is a very important piece of policy that would allow us to help understand how we retrofit our existing gas infrastructure with our goals to reduce emissions and to synchronize what we have with where we want to go. This amendment requires EEA to consider the sustainability of our entire energy portfolio in the context of supply and demand. I know this is an issue I brought up today. We have major concerns about the exponential growth of demand in the electricity sector without enough on the supply sector. This amendment would research if we’re able to supply the demand according to the standards we set in the renewable energy portfolio. This should be non-negotiable — can we make it work? It also requires EEA to consider affordability. If we don’t have to worry about costs, these laws would have been passed decades ago. But we have to worry about costs because they are all passed along to taxpayers or businesses one way or another. So let’s make sure the policies we put in place don’t impoverish our residents or businesses. Although the transition to renewable energy might imply we are lessening our environmental impact. Annual U.S. coal-fired electricity generation will increase this year for the first time since 2014. The U.S. electric power sector has been generating more electricity from coal due to higher gas prices, and this will only go up as we demand more electricity. As we put more electric vehicles on the road and require residents to retrofit their homes with heat pumps, the more coal we might be burning. We don’t have wind or sun 365 days a year, and we’re a densely populated state with a huge economy. We might not have the space or natural resources to ensure stable supply. We need EEA to look at the full environmental impacts of our entire energy portfolio. We need EEA to determine what is a practical, long-term strategy that allows for as much green power production as possible while making sure we’re not resorting to non-renewable energy generation. This means looking at load studies, projected demand trends and a lot more. By requiring EEA to consider these factors, we will have the information needed to move into a green future with confidence. That’s why we’re here today: to ensure the work put in makes a difference. We must continue to do our due diligence and put in policy that’s not only going to meet the moment, but meet the future as well.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
MEMORIAL ADJOURNMENT ORDER: The Senate adopted a Sen. O’Connor order that when the Senate adjourn, it do so in memory of Teckla “Tillie” Hajjar, who died on March 1.
Sen. O’Connor ascended the rostrum and read an obituary in memory of Hajjar. The Senate stood and observed a moment of silence.
BACK TO CLIMATE: The Senate returned to consideration of S 2819.
EDWARDS AMENDMENT 109 – Equitable Siting in East Boston
Sen. Edwards said, this inequity started three mayors ago with a land swap and we’re still dealing with the fact that the EFSB is not treating East Boston with the respect it deserves. The process itself has been confusing, has not been driven by data and certainly has not been driven by community needs. Most sad about this process is there’s nothing more important to East Boston than an environmentally sustainable future. We would love nothing more than to create that with the state. Pending right now is the final step, the certificate to operate this new substation that we not just do not want in East Boston but believe is horribly sited in a densely populated neighborhood, next to a playground and near jet fuel in an area that will flood. This design and siting is all driven by Eversource. No one in the community has asked for this or said this location makes sense. We’re not NIMBYs. If anything, we would have loved to work with the state to site this in a more appropriate place. There are two alternatives pending before the EFSB they have ignored, and this amendment would ask them to at least consider them before they issue this certificate. This isn’t just an East Boston concern. In November, it was the concern of the entire city of Boston. Question 2 was a referendum on the ballot and it received more votes than the mayor of Boston, becoming the most popular referendum in Boston’s history. It was a referendum telling Eversource to move the substation to an industrial location like Massport. I would love nothing more than for this body to go on record telling Eversource to move the location. But I recognize this is not the vehicle for this. I will withdraw this amendment but continue this fight.
Sen. Edwards requested and received unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
LOVELY AMENDMENT 113 – Residential Class I Net Metering Cap
The amendment was REJECTED.
COMERFORD AMENDMENT 118 – Electrification of New and Substantially Remodeled or Rehabilitated Buildings
Sen. Comerford said, on April 5, and I just bring this into the room with us, a Los Angeles Time banner read, “Earth On Track to Be Unlivable.” That was the headline on a story on the most recent IPCC report. These are the stakes we’re facing during today’s debate. I rise on behalf of my constituents in western Massachusetts. I’m proud that we in the Senate are voting on major climate legislation. I’m proud that today’s bill follows on the heels of another major climate bill. That next-gen bill required the development of a net-zero building stretch code, and my constituents have been leading net-zero building for years. They helped propel adoption of that stretch code and are seeing it through now because they know as the Senate knows we must address emissions from our buildings. They know fossil fuels are not the home heating systems of the future, and they know we need to phase out fossil fuel heating systems and we need to do it quickly. This bill begins to address this issue, allowing municipalities to test out new regulations, which would require that construction be fossil free. This amendment would go much further and would get fossil fuels out of all significant remodels statewide. Western Massachusetts is ready to do what’s needed. Rep. Khan’s bill like this is before the Legislature, and I look forward to taking this up. With that, I request this amendment be withdrawn.
Sen. Comerford requested and received unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
Sen. Lovely requested and received unanimous consent that no action be taken on amendment 113.
LOVELY AMENDMENT 113 – Residential Class I Net Metering Cap
Sen. Lovely said, this amendment would raise the cap on full net metering of class I solar arrays to 60 kilowatts. I want to thank the gentleman for filing my net metering bill in this bill to raise the cap to 25 kilowatts. I’m so thankful we’re closing the 25-kilowatt donut hole for small producers. This amendment seeks to raise the cap. We know there will be a significantly larger electric power demand when replacing fossil fuel cars and more. Allowing more solar opportunities will provide needed power for these improvements. However, I understand there are still cost concerns, so I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
CYR AMENDMENT 119 – Energy Storage
Sen. Cyr said, in order to achieve net-zero goals by 2050, we are going to need to utilize every megawatt of clean energy we can. This amendment is designed to ensure we develop as many options for energy storage as we can and facilitate healthy competition. The amendment would encourage new storage options to be developed by including multiday storage systems in DOER study. This technology will be important to minimize demand spikes and ensure we’re able to utilize all of the offshore wind capacity we have coming online.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
Sen. Brownsberger said, we’re going to deal with an extension order, and then we’re going to go into recess until the hour of 7:30, at which time a bundle will emerge. You should see that bundle emerge by email, hopefully around 7:15 p.m.
EXTENSION ORDER – Question came on an extension order H 4688 granting the Joint Committee on Public Service until Friday, April 29 to report on H 4372, H 4373, H 4374, H 4529 and H 4577.
Sen. Tarr said, I want to begin by thanking the distinguished chair for his incredible responsiveness and communication about what’s happening in the committee. I hold in my hands correspondence he sent, which very helpfully lays out what’s going on with this particular extension order. I can’t thank him enough. I would ask him, however, so we can all have the benefit of the information, the number of bills and the time for extension.
Sen. Brady said, it’s good to let the public know what’s going on. The Joint Committee on Public Service is requesting extensions on four House bills that deal with disabilities. There’s one other bill that is a late file and that has just been polled out.
The order was ADOPTED.
CONTINUING PAST 8 P.M.: By a 6-1 standing vote, the Senate adopted a Sen. Eldridge motion allowing senators to continue meeting past 8 p.m.
RECESS ‘TIL 7:45 P.M.: The Senate recessed at 6:52 p.m. with plans to return at 7:45 p.m.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 8:26 p.m. with Sen. Friedman presiding.
BUNDLED AMENDMENTS – “NO”: Without outlining which amendments were included, the Senate with a single voice vote rejected a bundle of amendments.
BUNDLED AMENDMENTS – “YES”: Without outlining which amendments were included, the Senate with a single voice vote adopted a bundle of amendments.
Sen. Cyr requested and received unanimous consent that no action be taken on amendment 119.
TARR AMENDMENT 3 – Sustain natural and working lands
Sen. Tarr said, Madam President, I looked at the rostrum and I could see the look in your eyes that you would be most disappointed if I did not rise. This offers another incredibly important tool to be able to remove carbon from the atmosphere. This builds upon legislation we’ve approved in the past to inventory our natural and working lands to create a grant program to use these natural resources to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere. Out of all the things we’ve discussed, this is the one that can take existing carbon out of the atmosphere. We have a sincere obligation to use this tool and put it to work. I hope we will.
The amendment was REJECTED.
TARR AMENDMENT 9 – Independent Transmission
Sen. Tarr said, we need to be mindful of the cost impacts with alternative forms of energy. One way to do that is to bid and solicit bids for transmission separate from generation. If we’re concerned about the marine environment, concerned about cost savings and not building multiple transmission lines in the same area, we certainly would want to allow transmission and generation to be bid separately.
Sen. Pacheco, I too want to speak in support of this amendment. When we look at where we need to be with offshore wind going forward, transmission not only off the coast of Massachusetts but throughout all the New England states, going up to New Jersey, Virginia, that whole area — all of these offshore wind companies that have successfully bid so far in doing various tranches of offshore wind development, they have actually expressed an interest, at least with my office several times now that in terms of their own planning going forward, it would be a good idea to be given some direction as to how we’d go forward because that direction would actually provide some consumer savings because we would have a better idea as to what the grid would look like, what the grid would cost, instead of them just throwing it into a package and being able to look at what’s happening at the federal level as well. Some people would say what are you talking about the federal level for? I’m talking about the tax incremental financing that many of these companies get depending on which authorization they were awarded. They could be getting a 3 percent TIC or getting less than that. It’s very important for us to pay attention to that when we even put a procurement out to understand how much flexibility these companies have when they’re bidding. Sometimes, the transmission will hide some of the cost in that area, and it’d be good for us to have that in place. I’m in support of it, I’ve signed onto it, I think it’s a good amendment for us to work on either at this point in time or in the future.
The amendment was REJECTED.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 10 – Linguistically Diverse and Culturally Competent Electric Vehicle Outreach Campaign
Sen. Rausch said, this amendment requires the Department of Energy Resources to ensure their electric vehicle outreach campaign is culturally competent and linguistically diverse. The base bill calls for a campaign in communities with high proportions of low-income households and high-emission vehicles. This outreach campaign is important to informing communities about electric vehicle incentives. This amendment makes a simple, yet really important, addition to this campaign, requiring the campaign to be culturally competent and linguistically diverse so that every person in every community in the commonwealth can learn about and benefit from the programs available to help people make the switch to electric vehicles.
Sen. Chandler said, as our commonwealth increasingly grows more diverse, I want to applaud the inclusive efforts of the legislative body as reflected in the underlying bill. Thank you for your incredible work. I also want to thank the Senate Ways and Means staff for including language from my amendment 130 into this amendment. I applaud this amendment. My amendment contributes trying to seek to ensure an outreach campaign reaches lesser-heard and marginalized groups such as English language learners and disability groups. They are often not included in climate action, yet they are among the groups that suffer the most negative impacts of climate change. As we work to meet climate goals, a transition from fossil fuels is vital. We must ensure our most vulnerable consumers are not left behind and that they too have access to being informed and taking action.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
KEENAN AMENDMENT 27 – Electric Vehicle Resales and Rebates
Sen. Keenan said, this amendment is pretty straightforward. Imagine somebody walks into a car dealership and purchases a car and at point of sale or some point gets a rebate on that car. The person could drive off the lot, pull into a lot down the street, sell it as a used car and the person buying that car would be eligible for the same rebate. You could have conceivably a succession of rebates on the same car in a very short time. That would limit the amount of money from being available to a greater number of people. This requires that somebody own a vehicle for 24 months before they can sell it and have the next buyer be eligible for a rebate. It breaks that potential cycle of what I would consider to be fraud. While giving rebates is obviously a very good idea, providing the same rebate regardless of somebody’s income does not provide optimal use of the funds. This amendment takes lessons from other states, such as Oregon, where lower-income people have an opportunity for a greater rebate. The redrafted amendment would provide low-income people with an additional $1,500 in rebate above and beyond other rebates they may be eligible for. This program would provide that extra $1,500 at point of sale in addition to the other rebates being offered.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
RUSH AMENDMENT 44 – SMART incentive review
The amendment was ADOPTED.
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 69 – Municipality Demonstration Project Data Collection
Sen. Chang-Diaz said, I rise digitally in support. The underlying bill creates a 10-municipality demonstration project allowing all-electric building construction by local option. This would strengthen the data requirement. The bill requires electric and gas distribution companies to collect comparative data. The companies are required to report the data to DOER to enable the department to make that data available to the public. In addition to the reporting and publication requirements, the language also requires the data to be reported in machine-readable format such as a spreadsheet or CSV file and not a PDF. In the recent past, when utilities have reported the data in an unreadable manner, stakeholders and researchers have to spend countless hours on transcription to make the data usable. This is just one example of the obfuscation and slow-walking holding back our progress.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
PACHECO AMENDMENT 81 – Energy storage
Sen. Pacheco said, when I filed this amendment, we were looking at the underlying one megawatt target that passed for 2025. We did that in 2018 and we established that target. In the most recent bill that we passed, we had established a target that would be established by the administration. After talking with Ways and Means staff and fully understanding that the administration is supposed to be giving us that information in June, I will ask unanimous consent to withdraw amendment 81 from further consideration because hopefully we will have an answer from the administration in terms of what the new targets are. So that everybody would know I had put on the table five gigawatts of storage as a target. We need to be at least there. In the same way we talked about the wind, it would be a floor, not a ceiling. That is what we should be doing. If we have wind and solar, we need storage and we need transmission and we need to have a modernized grid and we need so many more things that unfortunately aren’t in this underlying bill, but hopefully, we will have some better targets in June.
Sen. Pacheco requested and received unanimous consent to withdraw the amendment.
MONTIGNY AMENDMENT 84 – Commercial Fishing Mitigation
Sen. Tarr said, first, I want to say that I appreciate this amendment and I’m very happy to cosponsor it with regard to making sure we have suitable mitigation for the impacts of offshore wind generation not only on the commercial fishing industry, but also on the environment. I want to ask its sponsor to opine on it before we take action.
Sen. Montigny said, I’m happy to answer questions. In fact, in the question, the minority leader who collaborates with me on these issues has almost answered his own question. Although wind energy is urgent and important, and New Bedford is one of the more exciting ports on the East Coast with a $100 million state facility paid for, so our embrace of wind energy development is clear, we also are blessed with the most lucrative fishing port in the United States, which delivers about two-thirds of the monetization of the catch in Massachusetts every year. There are deep concerns about the wind energy proposal and unintended consequences on an industry that is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the port of New Bedford every year. This ensures there is the mitigation necessary and consultation, that when proposals are filled out, they’re mindful of this industry. We are excited and we are embracing the wind development and already have many of the most prolific wind energy developers in the world looking at New Bedford or locating in New Bedford, but we want to protect what we have. Wind energy requires the kind of economies of scale that attracts well-funded, international corporations, while the fishing industry — although there are some that have made millions — they are ultimately entrepreneurs and they need a place at the table. I hope this amendment is adopted.
Sen. Montigny requested a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE of 39-0, amendment ADOPTED. Time was 9:03 p.m.
ELDRIDGE AMENDMENT 85 – Off-Peak Rebate
Sen. Eldridge said, this amendment directs investor-owned utility companies to offer off-peak rebates by June 2023. It does not set restrictions on how the utility company is to do so. This is a redrafted amendment, and I want to thank Sen. Edwards for adding some of her language to this. This is essentially expanding the National Grid pilot program from three years ago to a statewide program.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 108 – Fare Free Transit Incentives
Sen. Chang-Diaz said, we must do all we can to encourage use of public transit. One way to do this is by eliminating fares, particularly on buses. Fare free transit increases ridership, period. The city of Boston’s fare-free pilot on the Route 28 increased ridership by 38 percent. Buses also spend less time idling, cutting down on emissions and reducing transit times. Even when a bus is less than 30 percent full, it emits a third less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than a car with one occupant. That’s why I’m proud to file this amendment. This was a light version of amendment 87, which would have dedicated $100 million to a new trust fund to support the MBTA, regional transit authorities and municipalities in expanding fare free transit. This amendment does not add any spending, but seeks to rebalance the strategies we tap to reduce emissions in transportation. It expands the mission of the EV trust fund so we are marshaling transit riders as soldiers in this fight against climate change, not just individual car riders, and so we’re putting dollars behind that strategy. The amendment requires DOER to develop an incentive program for such entities to receive money for fare-free programs.
The amendment was REJECTED.
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 110 – Electric Bus Yard Incentives
Sen. Chang-Diaz, this is also a lighter version of amendment 93, which was rejected. This amendment 110 was written to not add dollars to the bottom line of this bill and work within the existing spending commitments of the base bill but seeks to rebalance the strategies we tap. It expands the mission of the electric vehicles trust fund so we are taking active steps to transition our mass bus systems to electric as well, not just individual or private cars. We’re putting dollars behind that strategy. Amendment 110 simply requires DOER in consultation with the MBTA and the RTAs to develop a program for those entities to receive money through the trust fund for transitioning their bus maintenance facilities to accommodate zero-emission buses. As we have heard, the transportation sector contributes over 40 percent of Massachusetts greenhouse gas emissions, and it is the largest sector of air pollution. I want to thank leaders for prioritizing electrification and ensuring this bill sets a date certain by which MBTA bus purchases and leases must be zero-emissions. While I would like to see this timeline implemented faster, this amendment tackles the fact that transitioning Massachusetts to clean transit systems will require investment in the infrastructure. The MBTA currently operates nine bus maintenance facilities. The oldest dates to 1904 and the newest to 2004. Most of these facilities are outdated and not equipped to handle electric buses. The T’s current facilities plan lists 2038 as the tentative date for modernization of all bus garages. We must adopt a more aggressive timeline for garage replacement and ensure that we are allocating adequate funding for those efforts. This amendment makes sure that work does not get left behind, even as we charge ahead with private electric vehicles.
The amendment was REJECTED.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 111 – Zero-Emission School Buses Grant Program
Sen. Rausch said, this amendment directs the administration to report back to us and the public on the critical pollution problem that is diesel-powered school buses and possible ways of fixing it. Every school day, 480,000 school buses transport 26 million students across the country, equating to more than 4 billion miles driven in these large vehicles each year. School buses make up 80 percent of all buses driven nationwide, but less than 1 percent of school buses are zero-emission vehicles. More than 5 million tons of emissions could be cut if the nation’s school buses became zero emissions, the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from the road. Zero-emission buses aren’t only good for the planet, they’re good for improving and protecting the health of our students. In fact, researchers have found if the U.S. fully implemented an electric fleet of heavy-duty vehicles, thousands of lives would be saved. In Massachusetts, we have an opportunity to lead. We know that switching to zero-emission school buses will be expensive. A one-year pilot program administered by DOER saw greenhouse gas emissions cut in half. To create and implement support for a statewide switch from diesel to zero-emission school buses, we need some additional information, including current bus counts and the breakdown of schools that own, lease or contract for bus services. That’s what this amendment seeks, a report by Dec. 15 of this year with the requisite information so we can get to work further supporting the health and well-being of our students and our environment.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
CYR AMENDMENT 119 – Energy Storage
The amendment was ADOPTED.
CHANDLER AMENDMENT 123 – Providing assistance to Regional Transit Authorities to create an Electric Bus Rollout Plan
Sen. Chandler said, I rise to thank and applaud this body for doing everything they can to ensure a sustainable future. I filed this amendment because the 15 RTAs need all the assistance they can get to create an electric bus rollout plan. Over 55 percent of Massachusetts residents are serviced by RTAs. They provide vital service to disadvantaged groups. RTAs have struggled especially as they have incurred pandemic costs, including bus operator shortages and needed staff trainings, labor expenses for disinfecting, and air circulation. This amendment outlines various steps and instructs MassDOT to assist RTAs in planning electrification of buses in pursuit of a zero-emission regional transit future. It includes identifying the types of zero-emission bus technologies, the number of buses that would need conversion and a schedule for the conversion. Locating sources of funding is important to ensure a successful conversion of the RTA bus fleet and their maintenance. RTAs can only succeed when they are empowered. We must invest in their success because our constituents deserve nothing less.
Sen. Chandler requested a roll call vote. There was sufficient support.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE of 39-0, amendment ADOPTED. Time was 9:25 p.m.
TARR AMENDMENT 142 – Hydroelectric transmission
Sen. Tarr said, we continue to need to add additional sources of energy if we’re going to meet the demand we’re creating with this bill. In the plan we have been consistently developing over the years to meet our benchmarks, we have been trying to take advantage of the prospect of hydroelectricity. That hydroelectricity, which is the closest renewable we can find to base load because it operates consistently, as we have looked for that renewable, we have looked at hydroelectricity. Unfortunately, the ability to transmit that into Massachusetts and our electric grid has been made nearly impossible because the projects we have been looking to complete have been defeated with regard to permitting and regulation. We have to find additional sources of this type of energy if we are going to meet our goals and ensure we have a reliable supply of energy. This amendment tasks the Department of Energy Resources with trying to identify other means of transmission so that we can import greater amounts of hydroelectricity so that we can increase our portfolio of renewables.
The amendment was REJECTED.
CYR AMENDMENT 147 – Federally Recognized Tribes within the commonwealth
Sen. Cyr said, I saw the minority leader rising in interest in this amendment, so I’m glad to discuss it. The birth of this nation is intrinsically tied not only to the history of this commonwealth, but to its people. There are only two federally recognized Indian tribes left today out of dozens who lived on these lands. Well over 400 years since contact, these tribal nations continue to be marginalized. History has taught us that Indigenous people know well how to care for and cultivate these lands, their lands, and the Wampanoag people have always been good stewards of these lands. This amendment is aimed at providing tribes the opportunity to engage and consult in the climate crisis and the renewable energy efforts we’re pursuing today. The bill touches on areas that may impact tribal lands and fishing, so the amended language here aims to make sure they have a seat at the table.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 7 – Large Building Energy Reporting
Sen. Rausch said, if there is no objection, I can speak to amendment 7 and 8 together. These amendments address carbon emissions of some of our largest polluters: existing large buildings. If we are serious about combatting climate change, then we’ve got to get serious about curbing carbon emissions from existing large buildings. Unfortunately, existing buildings in Massachusetts are not subject to any statewide energy reporting requirements or energy usage and performance standards, and yet our existing buildings contribute significantly to our collective carbon footprint. Burning oil and gas in residential buildings produces 27 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, and electricity is responsible for an additional 19 percent. That is exactly the harm the bill before us aims to curtail. Oil and gas heating in our buildings release harmful pollutants. There’s also the issue of cost. To achieve our climate goals and protect public health, we must reduce the carbon emissions from large buildings by transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward clean and renewable sources. A prime place to focus is large buildings, including office buildings, apartment buildings and hospital and university campuses. In 2012, less than 1 percent of commercial buildings nationwide were larger than 200,000 square feet, but those accounted for 26 percent of commercial building energy consumption. I am glad the base bill works to curb emissions from new construction, but it isn’t enough. Here is a plain and simple fact: most Massachusetts buildings already exist. Some 85 percent of the buildings that will be in Boston in 2050 already exist. We ignore existing buildings and particularly existing large buildings at our own peril. Fortunately, municipalities have taken steps to address this problem. It is with gratitude to them and advocates that I bring these amendments. Amendment 7 sets energy reporting requirements for buildings of at least 25,000 square feet so we have the data to better understand the nature and impacts of carbon emissions from these buildings. DOER would be required to prepare a comprehensive annual report. As I’ve said so many times, we cannot mitigate what we do not measure. That’s as true with existing large building carbon contributions as it is with anything else. This data is critical to our data to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The reporting requirement would take effect in 2024. Amendment 8 is the complement, instructing DOER to set energy efficiency and use standards for buildings with at least 25,000 square feet of space. These large building energy performance standards would require reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in line with our benchmarks. The least energy efficient buildings would be required to improve their performance. These standards would not take effect until 2025. Taken together, this could help cut emissions from large buildings 80 percent by 2040. We already know this is an effective tool to reduce our carbon footprint and meaningfully mitigate climate change. Let’s build on the strong provisions in the base bill and existing law about new construction and make all of our buildings better, cleaner and greener.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 8 – Large Building Energy Performance Standards
The amendment was REJECTED.
CRIGHTON AMENDMENT 13 – Commuter Rail Electrification
Sen. Crighton said, this amendment would require the MBTA to expedite their plans to electrify the entire commuter rail system and would prohibit the purchase of diesel locomotives after 2030. With this underlying bill, we’re making important strides toward a cleaner transportation network by putting more electric vehicles on the road, electrifying the MBTA bus fleet and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This bill puts us closer to a carbon-free future. If we want to create a 21st century transportation system, we cannot do so by investing in dirty and old technologies of the past. Our current fleet of diesel engines create considerable air pollution. Too many communities across Massachusetts, like my constituents in Lynn, bear the burdens of the commuter rail without ever experiencing the benefits. The diesel trains that run through their backyards pollute their air but are too expensive, too infrequent and too unreliable to rely upon for their daily commutes. We’re also poised to receive historic funding from the federal infrastructure law, a once-in-a-generation opportunity. When you compare the cost of electrifying to what must be spent to maintain our aging diesel fleet, this is the smartest investment we can make. Electric trains are cleaner, faster and more reliable.
Sen. Pacheco said, I want to salute the gentleman for his work on this amendment. As someone who represents a district that is going through commuter rail expansion to southeastern Massachusetts, using an interim route from New Bedford and Fall River up to Boston with the so-called interim Middleborough/Lakeville route, which is supposed to be an interim and followed up with the preferred route, the so-called Stoughton Route, which was preferred by the Army Corps of Engineers, and also a route that is supposed to be totally electrified, and they are in the process now of doing the engineering work and going up through Raynham up toward Stoughton to look at the next phase, the final phase of the southeastern Massachusetts extension. It is critically important that we pass this amendment to send the message clearly that we really want the T and commuter rail in general and the RTAs and buses in the commonwealth, the transportation system that goes beyond the individual automobile, is also electrified and goes to a clean transportation system. I just want to put on the public record that the Baker administration at this point in time, I do not see the evidence given the national infrastructure bill that the senator who just took a seat referenced — there’s going to be a lot of infrastructure money coming here, and there are choices that need to be made. If we can come out of this conference at the end of the day with a bill that says total electrification, especially at a time when we can get some federal help for that, that’s what should happen. I’m very honored to support it and have cosponsored it. It’s what we need to do. We need to do everything possible to bring greenhouse gas emissions down. This is one big piece of it all.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
JEHLEN AMENDMENT 36 – Monitoring & Reducing Air Pollution
Sen. Jehlen said, this tasks DEP with a committee of labor, academic experts and residents to monitor hotspots for air pollution, set a baseline level and collaborate to develop recommendations to reduce air pollution. The reason the Green Line Extension was built, and we’re very happy about that, was to mitigate the pollution from I-93. It really did little to reduce the health damage to people most affected by the construction of I-93 and all the traffic on it. The closer you live to a highway or a diesel-powered train, the worse the impact on your health. I want to say to the gentlemen from Lynn, thank you very much. There are three diesel-powered trains that run through Somerivlle with one stop, so all of the pollution has been going through my city for a long time. The area along I-93 in particular is home to the lowest-income people and most people of color in our city. Air quality is not just an environmental issue, but a racial justice issue. For 40 years since the building of I-93, people have been subjected to higher rates of disease and death. I hope this amendment moves us toward a day when we will finally provide some relief and remediation.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
CHANG-DIAZ AMENDMENT 65 – Equity as Part of Mass Save
Sen. Tarr said, I’m hoping that we could get a brief explanation of the amendment that now pends before the Senate.
Sen. Chang-Diaz said, as ever, I always enjoy a good dialogue. This amendment would require the MassSave program administrators to include in their plan for MassSave historic and present program disparities among low- and moderate-income households and plans they will take to achieve equitable access and reduce disparities. It would effectively add another thumb on the scale for equity. Advocates have struggled for over a decade to get MassSave to address equity issues.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
DIZOGLIO AMENDMENT 98 – Increasing Transparency of MassSave Program Impact on Environmental Justice Populations
Sen. DiZoglio said, this amendment seeks to increase transparency around the MassSave program. We’ve made tremendous strides in recognizing environmental justice as critical. The financial and other benefits of energy efficient construction should be shared by all residents. We have a responsibility not only to set goals and aspirations in the law, but also to provide mechanisms for effective implementation. Otherwise we’re just playing lip service. This amendment pushes the conversation forward. MassSave is a program sponsored by gas and electric companies who work with the state to promote energy efficiency, helping businesses manage energy usage and cost. The initiative is predominantly ratepayer-funded. The pool of people who benefit from these savings and benefits are self-selected, leaving an imbalance between those who contribute and those who benefit. Those who benefit are better informed about climate policy and energy efficiency methods and, importantly, tend to own their own homes. The MassSave program has underserved renters and households with limited English proficiency as well as environmental justice small businesses. Although the newest MassSave statewide plan anticipates measures to address that historic imbalance, the timing of the new plan has contributed to three-year plan filings with deficiencies significant enough that DPU would have had grounds to reject them. The filings place significant strain on DPU, which is required to review these complicated plans. Procedural delays exercised by the utility companies place additional pressure on DPU. Eventually, DPU found rejecting the three-year plans outright would not be in the best interest of ratepayers. We’ve often seen that kind of approval via anti-rejection when matters are raised in very tight timeframes in this chamber. This amendment pushes up the deadline for utilities to submit their plans by 30 days, prevents certain procedural delays by utilities when documents or information are requested by DPU, and it codifies a requirement for certain data to be collected, reported and provided to the public. As we move forward with climate policy that incorporates environmental equity, we must continue to evaluate existing programs. Metrics may need to be adjusted and new data measured, but this amendment starts with the basics of asking who is paying for the energy efficiency surcharge, who is receiving the benefits and what are the demographics?
The amendment was ADOPTED.
TARR AMENDMENT 120 – Fisheries Commission
Sen. Tarr said, one of the oldest industries in the commonwealth is commercial fishing. It gave rise to a lot of the growth of the commonwealth in its earliest days. That industry needs to be able to survive and harmonize with the production of offshore wind, yet the stakeholders feel they have not had an adequate voice in the process. This commission would be comprised of stakeholders up and down the coast who are engaged in one way or another in commercial fishing so they can collaborate and make recommendations on how we can best promote the survival of the industry. I want to thank the gentleman from New Bedford for his collaboration. We constructed a commission that is broadly representative of stakeholders in the industry.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
HINDS AMENDMENT 138 – Supporting Community Organizations Building Local Climate Resilience
The amendment was ADOPTED.
HINDS AMENDMENT 141 – Furthering the adoption of energy storage systems
Sen. Tarr said, I note this amendment has been through the Redraft-o-Tron. I’m hoping we could get a brief explanation of the result.
Sen. Hinds said, this amendment has been substantially shortened. As we continue to invest in and expand our green energy infrastructure, we need to accelerate our energy storage capabilities. Storage can reduce pollution, can help smooth out demand and avoid price spikes. What this redraft has done is to really focus this on making sure that we are ready for the next step in incentivizing and adopting an energy storage system, making sure we’re clear on the location pattern of energy storage systems, and reviewing the cost-effectiveness of storage systems. This is an important next step.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
FINEGOLD AMENDMENT 22 – Coordination of Clean Energy Procurement
Sen. Friedman said, question comes on adoption of the amendment – oh man, so close.
Sen. Tarr said, I’m hoping we can get an explanation.
Sen. Finegold said, it is very important that we consider coordinating with other New England states to bring more energy to the grid. This amendment would require DOER to study and report on working with other states like Maine, which is currently soliciting bids for large-scale energy projects. We have to understand what the benefits and what the costs are.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
EDWARDS AMENDMENT 96 – Energy Efficiency Equity
Sen. Edwards said, this basically ensures that as we’re implementing our programs, we take an equitable lens and collect data along the way. If we do discover disparities, we do our best as a state to close those gaps.
The amendment was ADOPTED.
RECESS: The Senate recessed at 10:12 p.m.
RETURNS: The Senate returned to order at 10:25 p.m.
RAUSCH AMENDMENT 11 – Vehicle Database Transparency
The amendment was ADOPTED.
Sen. Barrett said, we’ve pretty much reached the conclusion here. Unofficial announcement from the fantastic Ways and means Staff and staff to the Senate President is we’ve seemed to have adopted 45 amendments today, more than one for every member of the Senate. I think that expresses in some way how participatory the process has been. We’ve got a product here that is much better than when we started here at 10 a.m. As one of the cooks who was in the kitchen relatively early, I want to express gratitude to everyone else who helped us come out with a better item.
Sen. Barrett requested a roll call vote on the underlying bill. There was sufficient support.
RODRIGUES AMENDMENT 154 – Corrective amendment
The amendment was ADOPTED.
The Senate then adopted the Ways and Means Committee amendments as amended and ordered it to a third reading.
Question came on engrossment.
BY A ROLL CALL VOTE of 37-3, bill ENGROSSED. Time was 10:40 p.m. Sens. Fattman, O’Connor and Tarr voted against engrossment.
Sen. Friedman originally read the roll call results as 38-2 before clarifying after a brief recess.
ADJOURNS: The Senate adjourned at 10:43 p.m. with plans to meet next on Tuesday at 11 a.m. without a calendar.
DISCLAIMER: Bill texts and histories are available at http://www.malegislature.gov/. All votes are voice votes, unless otherwise noted. Bills ordered to third reading have been given initial approval. To engross a bill is to pass it and send it to the other branch. The last of three votes taken on bills that reach the governor’s desk is the vote on enactment. So, it’s third reading (initial approval), engrossment (passage) and enactment. The News Service coverage of legislative debate is an accurate summary of remarks, not a verbatim transcript.