Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050. Baker’s veto sets up a confrontation between the Republican governor and the Democratic supermajority-controlled legislature. The bill would have also directed utilities to purchase more offshore wind power, set efficiency standards for appliances, and required that 40% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. The governor’s veto came under pressure from developers, who claimed the bill’s building efficiency rules would hamper housing development – despite studies showing the cost efficiencies of net-zero construction.
Baker, who in December released his own plan to make the state emissions-neutral by 2050, said he agreed with the bill’s supporters on climate goals, but State Sen. Michael Barrett, a lead negotiator on the bill, accused Baker of using technicalities to avoid the ambitious commitments set out by the legislation, and predicted the bill’s strong support would ultimately carry it over the finish line.
“Charlie Baker is not the first politician in the world to have responded to climate change by procrastinating,” Barrett said. Lawmakers passed the bill nearly unanimously at the end of the 2020 legislative session, and plan to refile it and quickly send it back to Baker with time left in the session to override a second veto. (Boston Globe $, WBUR, AP, Boston Herald $, CommonWealth, NBC Boston, MassLive; Commentary: WBUR, Alicia Barton and Ken Kimmell op-ed)