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State Senate Calls For Fees On Transportation-Related Climate Pollution By 2022

The gold-plated dome of the Massachusetts State House against a blue sky, with the Massachusetts flag flying to the right of the dome in the foreground.

The Massachusetts State House in downtown Boston.

On Thursday evening, the Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly passed ambitious legislation that sets an aggressive timeline for greenhouse gas reductions and calls on the Commonwealth to start taxing carbon emissions in the transportation sector within the next two years.

Senate bill 2477, "An Act setting next-generation climate policy," passed 36 to 2 (Senators Ryan Fattman of Worcester and Dean Tran of Fitchburg were the only "nay" votes).

The bill would update the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act by setting into law the Governor's goal of eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, while also setting ambitious interim goals, including one that would reduce emissions to 50 percent of 1990 levels within the next 10 years.

The bill also calls on the Commonwealth to "adopt sector-based statewide greenhouse gas emissions sublimits" that would apply to specific segments in the economy, including the transportation sector.

The law would require the executive branch to "promulgate regulations" that would be "designed to reduce emissions from passenger vehicles and light duty trucks" by January 1, 2022.

The bill further stipulates that those regulations need to be "market-based compliance mechanisms," which could include the proposed Transportation and Climate Initiative or, alternatively, a direct carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions. The bill also calls for additional carbon pricing programs to regulate commercial buildings by 2025, and residential buildings by 2030.

The Senate also two other bills related to climate policy on Thursday evening. One of those bills Thursday legislates subsidies for electric vehicles, and would also require the MBTA to purchase only zero-emission buses after 2030. A third bill establishes higher energy efficiency standards for household products.

Before they can become law, all three Senate bills would also need approval in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and from Governor Baker.

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