Massachusetts State Senate Passes Bipartisan Carbon Pricing Legislation
By Jamie DeMarco
The state senate of Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly on January 30 to enact an economy-wide price on carbon. Senate Bill 2477 passed 36 to 2 with strong bipartisan support. The bill also requires the state to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is a tremendous win for carbon pricing and shows that working together across party lines leads to success.
The bill did not specify what the price per ton of carbon would be or how the money would be spent. Instead the bill requires the governor’s office to create and implement a carbon pricing mechanism strong enough to meet the deadline of net zero carbon by 2050. The legislation leaves open the possibility of returning the revenue to households in the form of rebate checks.
Currently, cap and trade policies exist in California and the Northeast, but the effective price on carbon from those cap and trade policies is less than $15 per ton. There are also some municipalities like Boulder and Washington, D.C., that have small, fixed carbon prices. No state has yet implemented a steadily rising fee on carbon emissions. This bill could make Massachusetts the first.
The Massachusetts Senate passed similar carbon pricing language in late 2018, but it died in the House. Our movement for action on climate change has grown a lot since then, and we are hopeful 2020 will be different.
We have worked hard to generate the political will for a price on carbon in Massachusetts, and we are not done yet. As part of a powerful Massachusetts carbon pricing coalition, we will work to enact the country's first steadily rising price on carbon and build momentum for a national carbon price.
Jamie DeMarco is CCL's State-Level Carbon Pricing Coordinator.