Massachusetts Slammed on Pollution Reduction

     BOSTON (CN) — Massachusetts failed to implement programs that effectively reduce greenhouse emissions, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled.
     Reversing the Suffolk Superior Court’s ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court said Tuesday that existing regulations by the state Department of Environmental Protection “fail to ensure the type of mass-based reductions in greenhouse gases across the sources or categories of sources regulated under each of the programs, as intended by the Legislature.”
     Though the Global Warming Solutions Act requires Massachusetts to cut its greenhouse gases 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050, a 2010 report from the Eastern Research Group found the state lagging.
     Massachusetts actually commissioned the report, which says existing regulations would result in only an 18.6 percent statewide emissions reduction by 2020.
     Though the law does not use the official terminology of “greenhouse gas emissions limit,” Massachusetts failed to sway the justices Tuesday that its requirements for emissions limits are merely aspirational.
     “There can be no doubt that the ’emissions’ referenced are greenhouse gas emissions, and not emissions of some other type,” Justice Robert Cordy wrote for the unanimous court.
     Cordy also did not put much stock in the state’s implementation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which allows producers to trade emissions limit allowances.
     “We conclude that although the RGGI program and amendments thereto are very important to the over-all regional scheme of reducing carbon dioxide emissions, they do not qualify as a regulation under [state law],” the 39-page opinion states, abbreviating the name of the initiative.
     The Massachusetts Sierra Club applauded the court for underscoring the state’s need “to double down on renewable energy such as solar, wind and energy efficiency and to do much more to reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector.”
     “Investing billions of dollars in new fracked gas pipelines is the absolute wrong way to go and doesn’t protect the community or the environment,” Cathy Buckley, chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, said in a statement.
     “Clean energy means jobs, and it means keeping energy dollars here at home,” added Buckley, whose group signed onto an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs. “The court has spoken – we look forward to supporting the Baker Administration in their efforts to ensure compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act.”
     Massachusetts officials say they are sincere about reducing emissions.
     “The Baker-Polito Administration is currently reviewing the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling, and remains committed to meeting the Global Warming Solutions Act goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, as well as achieving greater reductions for 2030 and beyond,” DEP spokesman Edmund Coletta said in an email.

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