Fact sheet: Baker’s New Carbon Emissions Regulations
By Tim Cronin, Policy Fellow
What: The Baker administration issued new carbon emission regulations today.
Why: They are to ensure the state meets its 2020 emission requirements, set forth in the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).
When: The regulations were issued today (Friday, Aug. 11th), and will take effect in January 2018.
Who: The Baker administration and various state agencies (DEP, DPU, DOER etc) crafted and announced the new rules.
How: The main focus of these regulations is reducing energy sector emissions, and to a much lesser extent, transportation sector emissions.
- The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) legally requires a 25% reduction in emissions by 2020.
- According to 2014 state figures Massachusetts already has reduced emissions by 21% from 1990 levels.
- These figures are disputed by some environmental groups (i.e. 350 Mass)
- Massachusetts has already joined a non-binding pledge with other regional states to register 300,000 electric vehicles (EV) cars by 2050.
- The state currently has 11,000 EVs.
What do the new regulations do
The state says the new rules may cause a short-term 1-2% yearly increase in electricity costs for ratepayers. The regulations include:
- Natural Gas Leaks: Utilities will be required to set declining limits on methane leaks from natural gas mains.
- Clean Source Requirement: Utility companies and other power providers will be required to obtain 16 percent of their energy from clean sources, such as wind and solar, in 2018. That requirement will increase by 2 percentage points a year until 2050, when 80 percent of their power must come from emissions-free sources. This is inclusive of the state’s existing renewable portfolio standard (RPS), its 1,200 MW renewable energy procurement, and its 1,600 MW offshore wind procurement.
- Power Plants: The state’s remaining 21 fossil fuel power plants will be required to cut emissions from nearly 9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018 to 1.8 million metric tons in 2050.
- Reduce Emissions from State Vehicles: The state Department of Transportation will be required to set specific, declining annual limits on emissions from their vehicles. The goal of this is to increase efficiency and number of EV’s in its fleet. This rule is not expected to have a large impact on transportation sector carbon emissions.
- Under these rules, 90% of the new reductions will come from the electricity sector. State power plants have already reduced emissions by 60% from 1990 levels. The transportation sector, not the electricity sector, produces the largest percentage of carbon pollution in the state (40%).
- The regulations exempt all 44 town-owned utilities from the requirement to buy an increasing amount of renewable energy every year. These utilities account for 15% of the state’s electricity supply.
- The regulations are only intended to comply with the GWSA’s 2020 requirement, not its 2050 80% reduction requirement.
- Energy industry groups (including the New England Power Generators Association) criticize the rules for increasing ratepayer costs and increasing carbon emissions. The groups claim emissions will actually increase because utilities will import energy from dirtier out-of-state plants.
- Environmental groups (including 350 MA and the Conservation Law Foundation) criticize the rules for not going far enough to reduce transportation sector emissions, not including town-owned utilities, and not setting legally binding emission reduction goals for 2030 and 2040.