September 2022 Newsletter
In this Issue
  • Save the Date!
  • Celebrating New Climate Legislation!
  • MA - Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind
  • Federal - Inflation Reduction Act
  • Membership Matters - Local Gatherings
  • Hot Topic: Research Team Dives Deep into Home Heating
  • What We're Reading: Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions about Climate Justice by Aviva Chomsky
New Climate Legislation! State and Federal
New MA Climate/Wind Law
Advances Decarbonization on Many Fronts
Roger Luckmann
The ACT DRIVING CLEAN ENERGY AND OFFSHORE WIND, recently signed into law by Gov. Baker, includes a lot of things ECA Mass and our allies have been advocating for this legislative session. So celebration is in order. The Energy/Wind law will kickstart some of the work the state needs to do to reach the ambitious goals established by the Next Generation Roadmap law. For the bill and a section-by-section summary produced by Massachusetts Climate Xchange, see here. (The text of the bill (H.5060) and the related law (Chapter 179 of the Acts of 2022) is identical, but some section numbering may differ.)


A major goal of the law is to support the equitable development of the offshore wind industry through:
  • New tax incentives, grants, loans, and other investment opportunities to build the wind energy industry, a domestic wind energy supply chain, and to provide job training.
  • Incentivizing wind energy developers to engage low-income workers, workers of color, businesses owned by women and people of color, provide job training, and to offer specified benefits to employees and communities.
  • Establishing a commission to help protect wildlife from harm by offshore wind projects.
The law creates two new entities to deal with the delivery of electricity:
  • The Clean Energy Transmission Working Group to work with New England states to build/upgrade lines.
  • The Grid Modernization Advisory Council to ensure utilities make needed and cost-effective transmission upgrades.
The Department of Energy Resources will work on energy storage and transmission:
  • Studying energy storage and issuing recommendations for adding storage to the grid.
  • Possibly soliciting bids for up to 4,800 gigawatt-hours of storage.
  • Soliciting bids for the construction of an offshore transmission system to support offshore wind projects.
Solar energy receives a boost through:
  • An increase in the net metering cap.
  • Allowing more than one installation on a property.
  • Allowing and selectively incentivizing solar on farms.
Finally, the law prohibits awarding renewable energy credits to power plants that burn biomass to generate electricity. ECA Mass and its allies fought hard for this one.


The law promotes the adoption of electric vehicles (EV) by:
  • Banning the sale of new internal combustion vehicles (ICV) after 2035.
  • Increasing EV rebates from $2500 to $3500 for new EVs costing $55,000 or less with $1,000 more for trading in an ICV and $1500 more for lower-income residents.
  • Providing some incentives for buying medium and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles.
EV charging will be made more accessible and cheaper through:
  • Formation of a council to oversee the equitable deployment of public chargers.
  • Requiring the installation of chargers at all Mass Pike service plazas and in some public transit parking areas.
  • Requiring utilities to offer off-peak rates for EV charging.
Electrification of public transit will be accelerated by requiring the MBTA to:
  • Buy only zero-emission buses beginning in 2030.
  • Electrify the whole bus fleet by 2040.
  • Consider emissions and climate resiliency in planning.
Studies of electrifying regional transit, school buses, and ride hailing services are mandated.


The law supports electrification of buildings by:
  • Allowing 10 municipalities to ban gas hook-ups in new construction and major rehabs.
  • Incentivizing the purchase of electric appliances.
  • Ending Mass Save incentives or rebates for fossil fuel heating with few exceptions.
  • Requiring owners of buildings over 20,000 square feet to report emissions annually.
  • Initiating a study of electrification of K-12 school buildings.
  • Ensuring that gas pipeline replacement doesn't conflict with state decarbonization goals.
  • Allowing more input into and time for the future of gas study.
  • Facilitating geothermal heat projects by utilities.
The MA Dept. of Public Utilities may require some gas companies to submit plans for decommissioning the gas infrastructure.


The role and responsibilities of the CEC are significantly expanded by:
  • Tasking them to develop wind industry port infrastructure and job training programs.
  • Establishing and administering an investment fund to support clean energy development through research, construction of infrastructure and other means.
  • Expanding research and development support to nuclear fusion, networked and deep geothermal energy, biofuels, green hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration.
  • Expanding its workforce development programs.


The Climate/Wind bill did not include funding to support all these initiatives. The funding was supposed to be allocated in the economic development bill that stalled in the legislature. Legislative leaders are trying to figure out how to take up this bill now that the formal session has ended.


The wind/energy law has the potential to drive much-needed progress in equitably decarbonizing energy, transportation and buildings. But many climate policy objectives remain to be addressed in the next legislative session including decarbonizing large buildings, promoting public transit, biking and walking, electrifying commuter rail, protection of natural lands, air quality in environmental justice communities and other initiatives needed to meet our climate goals. 
The Inflation Reduction Act and its Climate Impacts
Seth Evans
Good climate news is finally emanating from Washington! The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) represents the largest investment in fighting climate change ever undertaken by the federal government. The Act will, over the next ten years, provide $369 billion to support decarbonization in every sector, including electric power, transportation, buildings, and agriculture.

When combined with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the CHIPS and Science Act, the investments should, by some estimates, result by 2030 in a 40-42% reduction in CO2 emissions from the 2005 level. However, additional private sector, state and local governmental actions – likely to come about in response to this federal stimulus – now place within reach President Biden’s stated goal of a 50% reduction by 2030. Without the federal action, a 30% reduction could have been expected.

The IRA accomplishes these reductions by providing funding to accelerate the growth of clean energy and support consumer rebates for home electrification and EVs while supporting domestic manufacturing and clean energy job creation. For a detailed explanation of the legislation’s climate-related benefits, read this summary by the Sierra Club.

It is too early to say precisely how the new federal dollars may accelerate decarbonization of buildings, transportation, and energy in Massachusetts. However, a summary of benefits coming to our state released by the White House identifies rebates and tax credits that, combined with incentives in the recently passed Massachusetts climate bill, may empower many residents to make climate-friendly decisions about home heating, appliances, and transportation.

Many of the new funding streams created by the IRA will require collaboration between state and local government to make the most of available funds. Climate activists and local and state elected officials will have to work together quickly in order to “hit the ground running” and compete effectively for IRA grant funds.
The ECA Massachusetts Legislative Team will work on identifying opportunities for IRA funding that the state should take advantage of. Stay tuned!
Membership Matters
Maiyim Baron
While it's still nice enough to gather outside, we are continuing our series of local member gatherings to celebrate the recent enactment of the new Clean Energy and Offshore Wind law, share local work and resources, and get to know new members. While intended to be regional, members can attend any gathering they wish.  
We’re gathering for a picnic on September 29 at 1 pm at the Acton Arboretum (12 Taylor Rd., main picnic area – same place as last time!). Bring a picnic lunch – drinks and dessert will be provided.
On September 30 at noon, members from the Metro-North area are invited to gather at a beautiful backyard in Belmont for a potluck lunch and social gathering to get to know other members and talk about our work together.
And on October 10, the Leadership Team will have its usual Monday morning meeting (in a Brookline backyard instead of on Zoom), and then at noon will welcome members from the Brookline, JP, and Newton areas to meet the LT and enjoy a veggie and hamburger cookout/potluck picnic lunch. 
We also need help organizing a gathering on the North ShoreLet Maiyim know if you would like to help with that - or help pull together a local in-person gathering in your area and RSVP for the ones you are planning to attend, and get further details. As always, feel free to bring along friends and neighbors who you want to introduce to ECA.
Hot Topic:
Research Team Dives Deep into Home Heating
ECA Mass Research Team
As part of our Deep Dialogue series three members of the ECA Mass Research Team recently delivered a two-part presentation entitled “Weatherizing and Electrifying Heating in Existing Smaller Residential Buildings.” They believe this issue to be one of the greatest challenges we face in reaching our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals in Massachusetts 

They strongly advocated for all new construction and major remodels to be all electric but explained that for many existing buildings, especially smaller residential buildings, there are significant challenges to electrification. Heating many homes with heat pumps through the winter without a back-up system (e.g. gas or oil furnace or boiler) for very cold days can be difficult and costly according to the presentation. (The video and slides from the presentations are here. And read a summary of the presentations here.)
The presentation included a review of the preferred pathway for transitioning building heating from fossil fuels to heat pumps in the recently released Massachusetts 2025/2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP). Due to the challenges of electrifying heating of existing smaller residential buildings, the CECP supports an approach that emphasizes hybrid heating systems (heat pump with fossil fuel back-up) in these buildings through 2030 and assumes some use of liquid and gas biofuels (eg., biodiesel and biomethane).
Biogas Controversy
In a lively exchange of views following the presentation, participants were critical of the CECP pathway for a number of reasons, including the concern that introducing biomethane into our gas pipelines may contribute to the perpetuation of the gas system with its adverse effects on climate and health. Biomethane leaked during production, delivery, or use in the home has the same adverse climate and health effects as fossil methane (natural gas). Methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
Several reasons were cited in favor of replacing some fossil methane with biomethane from landfills, manure, and sewage. Unlike the CO2 emissions from fossil methane, the emissions from burning such biomethane do not add to net atmospheric CO2. That’s because the carbon released was recently drawn down from the air by plants. That carbon is incorporated into methane generated by the decay of the plant matter and then is released back into the air as CO2 when methane is combusted. So the process of replacing fossil methane with biomethane has the potential to reduce overall CO2 emissions from methane combusted in furnaces and other appliances while also reducing direct methane emissions from landfills, manure, and sewage by containing it in pipelines. 
Critics of injecting biomethane into gas pipelines argue that leaks may offset much of the impact on carbon emissions, and that methane can be captured and put to use near its sources to fuel distributed sources of electricity or to generate heat with much lower risk of leakage. Flaring biomethane on site is another option that prevents the release of biomethane by transforming it to less potent CO2.
Critics of the CECP also proposed that hybrid systems should be installed only when a stand-alone heat pump system is not feasible or affordable and should be considered the first step on a road to heating with a heat pump alone throughout the heating season when technology and economics permit.
ECA Mass has not come out in support of the CECP’s prefered pathway and the presentation highlighted some serious concerns about it. ECA Mass reminds our members and allies that Deep Dialogues are aimed at stimulating open discussion on complex issues facing the climate movement aimed at furthering the educational mission of ECA Mass. Any views or recommendations presented are for educational purposes and not an expression of ECA Mass policy.

What We're Reading
Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions about Climate Justice
By Aviva Chomsky (Penguin Random House, April 2022)
It is very tempting, especially with the price of renewable energy plummeting, to fall into complacency about our ability to stop climate change through purely technological and market-based solutions. Doomism –- the belief that nothing will save us from the devastations of a warming planet -- is the flip side of that same coin. It gives us permission to avoid action entirely, hoping against hope that a technological fix is around the corner.
Professor Aviva Chomsky’s Is Science Enough? Forty Questions About Climate Justice is a useful antidote to both of those attitudes, as well as a useful primer on the many important questions facing the climate change movement. Chomsky’s radical analysis of the climate crisis demands that we view the crisis as primarily a political and socio-economic, rather than a technical, issue. “The climate crisis is the result of a social and economic system that relies on extracting and consuming the earth’s resources in ever-increasing quantities, and turning them into waste,” she writes. Even decarbonization – if indeed we can accomplish it – is not enough, if it is accomplished by exacerbating global economic inequality or if it promotes unbridled economic growth. As an example, she insists that our evaluation of renewables (plus battery storage) include the social justice impacts tied to large-scale mining, land use, and disposal, lest we give rise to another set of intractable problems as we begin to address climate change.
Some may view Chomsky’s focus on global equity and social justice as excessive, especially when considering that global warming is already having the greatest impact in poorer countries. Still, the book’s textbook-like organization and its full discussion of the terminology and disparate activists’ views on a variety of policy-related topics, make it a valuable resource for activists and students alike.

-- Seth Evans
This Newsletter is Published for Members and Friends of the
Elders Climate Action - Massachusetts Chapter
ECA Massachusetts is a chapter of the national Elders Climate Action. We are a movement of elders committed to making our voices heard... to change our nation's policies while there is still time to avoid catastrophic changes in the Earth's climate. Visit the ECA Massachusetts website, event calendar, and Facebook page to learn more about our chapter's activities and climate news. JOIN ECA MASSACHUSETTS AND STAY CONNECTED! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and for more active participation, sign up to receive Action Alerts and meeting announcements. Fill out our subscription form.