Governor Baker Signs Legislation Directing $2.4 Billion to Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental Protection, and Community Investments
Law Will Continue the Baker-Polito Administration’s Leadership on Climate Change Resiliency and Environmental Stewardship
QUINCY – Governor Charlie Baker today ceremonially signed bipartisan legislation to authorize over $2.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and improving recreational opportunities. Consistent with the Baker-Polito Administration’s previously filed legislation, An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity (H. 4835) enables critical environmental investments at the state and local levels and will put into law essential components of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 establishing an integrated strategy for climate change adaptation across the Commonwealth, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program and the Statewide Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Plan.
“Massachusetts is a national leader in addressing the threat of climate change and proactively preparing for its impacts, and I am proud to sign this bipartisan bill to build on those efforts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Commonwealth is now positioned to increase our resiliency to climate change, protect the environment, and improve recreational opportunities. We look forward to working with our legislative and local partners to build a cleaner and more sustainable Commonwealth.”
“Our Administration has made planning for the impacts of climate change a priority, and this legislation builds on our innovative efforts to collaborate with municipalities and stakeholders to address this challenge,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The strategic investments in this bill will allow us to continue our strong partnership with local communities to preserve our beautiful natural resources for generations to come and improve the quality of life for citizens in every corner of the Commonwealth.”
Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on coastal and inland communities, the legislation authorizes $501 million to respond to and prepare for extreme weather, sea level rise, inland flooding and other climate impacts:
$290 million will be used to fund improvements and repairs to dams and seawalls and to implement diverse coastal resiliency strategies
$75 million will provide planning and action grants to communities through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program
$100 million will be invested in implementing the Commonwealth’s Integrated State Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Plan.
Further expanding the Baker-Polito Administration’s Executive Order 569, the legislation codifies the commitments under the Executive Order, including issuance of, and ongoing updates to, an integrated, state-wide hazard mitigation and adaptation plan, continuation of the MVP program, and support for ongoing state agency climate change vulnerability assessments.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to the improvement of our incredible portfolio of state land and recreational facilities, and is proud that this legislation will address deferred maintenance and recreational opportunities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Additionally, this legislation provides important protections to the Commonwealth’s historic and vital fishing and agricultural industries, while allowing us to better protect and conserve Massachusetts’ air, land, and water.”
Continuing the Baker-Polito Administration’s dedication to ensuring all Massachusetts residents have high-quality access to outdoor recreational opportunities, the legislation authorizes $665 million to enable investment in deferred maintenance and recreational resource stewardship across state government – including $25 million for the expansion and interconnection of trails through the MassTrails program and $400 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation recreational facilities across the Commonwealth.
The legislation allocates $581 million to continue supporting communities around the Commonwealth and the environmental stewardship work they do, including:
$405 million for community investment grant programs for municipalities, regional planning agencies and other eligible entities
$35 million for tree planting and forest land protection programs
$55 million for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Complete Streets Program which provides funding to communities to provide safe and accessible options for all travel modes - walking, biking, transit and vehicles.
The legislation also includes over $474 million to support environmental programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams, and lakes. This includes an additional $60 million for the Commonwealth’s Clean Water Trust to continue its strong partnership with cities and towns in developing water infrastructure projects.
To protect the Commonwealth’s maritime industry, the legislation will allow the Department of Fish and Game to update decades-old fines and penalty schedules for marine fisheries violations, including doubling non-criminal fines and increasing criminal penalties. To ensure the continued viability of Massachusetts’ agricultural industry and protect family farms, the legislation reduces the estate tax on farmland in agricultural use for at least 10 years.
“Through hard work and collaboration, I am proud that the House and Senate, along with Governor Baker’s administration, have passed a thorough and comprehensive environmental bond bill,” State Representative David Nangle (D-Lowell), House Chair of Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee. “Included in the legislation are strong new policies and initiatives that will help protect our vital natural resources, as well as funding for dozens of projects throughout our state that will help our cities and towns maintain and grow our greenspaces, parks, and critical seacoast infrastructures.”
“I'm grateful for the Governor's support for this important legislation,” said State Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), Senate Chair of Environmental Bond Bill Conference Committee. “I’m also grateful for the strong collaboration between the House and Senate in preparing the legislation.”
“An investment in our environment is an investment in our future, and I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership and support towards our Commonwealth’s environmental, agricultural and state climate adaptation programs,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), Chairman for the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “This legislation aims to impact every corner of the Commonwealth. Whether that be through coastal infrastructure, land protection conservation, or even hazardous waste management, we are ensuring that Massachusetts will remain at the forefront of creating strong, environmental policy.”
“As a member of the conference committee, I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in the State Legislature and the Baker-Polito Administration to pass legislation that will assist cities and towns in their work to protect the environment and enhance the Commonwealth’s recreational resources,” said State Senator Don Humason (R-Westfield). “In the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire district, this bill will provide essential resources to our local communities as they look to improve storm water management, maintain and improve parks and waterways, and make necessary repairs and enhancements to local bridges and bike paths.”
“The bond bill is a reflection of the varied environmental priorities throughout the state,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture Committee. “Working with our farmers, foresters, and various environmental groups and individuals, it shows a strong commitment to the preservation and conservation of our natural resources.”
“Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for introducing this Environmental Bond Bill legislation that demonstrates why Massachusetts is a leader in environmental stewardship,” said State Representative Donald Berthiaume Jr. (R-Spencer). “This funding will continue the cooperation between state and local governments on these critical projects to preserve our resources for many years to come.”
“The Baker-Polito Administration continues its unprecedented commitment to cities and towns across the Commonwealth with the signing of this vital bipartisan legislation,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch. “In Quincy, we know all too well just how vulnerable our coastal neighborhoods and infrastructure truly are, and this bill makes protecting those assets a major priority across the Commonwealth.”
“With the robust environmental bond signed into law, the Baker-Polito Administration and the Legislature have made a significant commitment to help the people of Massachusetts avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable as we face the impacts of climate change,” said Steve Long, Director of Government Relations at the Nature Conservancy. “The Nature Conservancy applauds the bond and welcomes its emphasis on utilizing nature-based solutions—such things as reconnecting flood plains, restoring barrier beaches, and conserving additional forest land to naturally remove carbon pollution from the air. Nature-based solutions can enhance safety and avoid community costs by taking advantage of nature’s services.”