Representative Joan Meschino is a leading champion on Beacon Hill in the fight against climate change. Her signature legislation during the 2019-20 legislative session was An Act to create a 2050 Roadmap to a Clean and Thriving Commonwealth, also known as the 2050 Roadmap Bill. The bill updates the Global Warming Solutions Act to change the state’s carbon emissions reduction goal to net zero emissions by 2050. It requires that the state set strong intermediate goals for 2030 and 2040 as well, and requires the state to create a plan to reach those goals.
The 2050 Roadmap bill was passed by the Massachusetts House in July 2020, at which point it entered a conference committee with the Senate. The bill was released as S.2995, An Act creating a next-generation roadmap for Massachusetts climate policy, and subsequently passed by the House and Senate in early January 2021. After the Governor vetoed the bill and the 191st session came to a close, the Chairs Golden and Barrett refiled the conferenced bill as S.9. The Governor proposed amendments, and the Legislature ultimately rejected efforts to slow the rate of progress toward net-zero emissions by 2050, while accepting a number of substantive and technical amendments that improve the bill. The final bill was signed by the Governor on March 26th, 2021.
But the climate crisis is already upon us, and Massachusetts communities also need resources to adapt to the changing environment. When it comes to community resiliency in the face of looming climate change, Representative Meschino’s focus is forward. A fierce supporter of the House’s GreenWorks proposals, she has long been advocating for policies and funding to support local infrastructure projects that address the impacts of sea level rise and other effects of climate change.
In the 191st legislative session, she voted for GreenWorks which would provide $1.3 billion bonding authorization to fund $100 million per year in grants to municipalities for the construction of adaptation and mitigation measures. This includes repairs, upgrades and adaptations to seawalls, culverts, bridges, roadways, energy, utilities, and communications infrastructure.
During the 192nd legislative session, Rep. Meschino has continued to pave the way for climate justice. She voted to pass H.4515, An Act advancing offshore wind and clean energy to invest in the Commonwealth’s clean energy future through the wind sector. As groundbreaking offshore wind legislation that aims to reassert the state as a leader in the industry, H.4515 would establish a $50 million tax incentive program, allocate funds to invest in wind technology and innovation, create new environmental requirements for offshore wind projects, and set forth necessary cost containment safeguards for the wind energy bidding process. In addition, this legislation asks electric utilities to modernize grid plans and orders the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to conduct a study on the feasibility of a solicitation for energy storage installations.
Representative Meschino also voted to pass H.4219, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs, which aims to bridge the gaps exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, allocating federal funding granted to the Commonwealth for COVID-19 relief from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and surplus tax revenue from FY21. Among hefty investments in areas like housing and education, the bill includes investments for environmental infrastructure and development spending, prioritizing environmental justice communities, clean energy, and climate-resilient infrastructure.
For residents of Massachusetts’ South Shore, where her district lies, “climate change and sea level rise are real to us right now. We need to address the impacts as individuals and as communities working together,” said Rep. Meschino. “We have to make sure that our local communities have the resources to prepare for, and respond to, increasingly powerful storms.” Rep. Meschino has helped secure grant funding for towns in her district to address the effects of coastal flooding and extreme storms.