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Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Policy Summary

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., April 27, 2007

On April 23, 2007, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) issued its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Policy. The policy takes effect immediately and requires certain projects to quantify the GHG emissions associated with the project and to propose alternatives to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the emissions. Until a protocol is developed, a project proponent will be required to identify and describe sources of project-related GHG emissions. Quantification of the emissions will be required once a protocol is adopted. It is anticipated that the protocol will be available for public notice by July 1, 2007. A summary of the new policy follows and a link to the full policy is provided for your further information.

Projects Subject to Policy

A project will be subject to this policy if an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is required and it falls into one or more of the following categories:

  1. The Commonwealth or a state agency is the proponent or provides financial assistance;
  2. Privately funded project: if it requires an air quality permit from the Department of Environmental Protection;
  3. Privately funded project: (i) office projects - 3,000 or more new vehicle trips per day; (ii) mixed use projects w/ 25% office space - 6,000 or more vehicle trips per day; or (iii) other projects -10,000 vehicle trips per day.

Avoid, Minimize, or Mitigate

For projects subject to the policy, Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) will immediately begin incorporating into new scoping certificates the requirement that the proponent identify and describe sources of, and propose measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for, project-related GHG emissions. Once a protocol is available, MEPA will require the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions.

Advisory Committee

MEPA office has convened an advisory committee of agency officials, private air quality consultants, and other stakeholders to develop a standardized protocol for the EIR emissions analysis. The advisory committee is expected to complete action on the protocol so that it can be available for public notice by July 1, 2007.

Kind of Emissions Covered

The analysis will focus on the six GHGs covered by the Kyoto Protocol: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The analysis will include both "direct" GHG emissions (e.g., stack and fugitive emissions from the proposed operation) and "indirect" emissions (e.g., emissions from vehicles driven by employees and generating plants supplying electricity to the proposed operation).

Project Alternatives

Proponents must consider project alternatives in the EIR that incorporate measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate such emissions. The proponent will be required to commit to emissions reduction measures, which may include:

  1. Energy efficiency improvements in buildings, including: lighting, energy management systems, insulation, HVAC technology, windows, water heating technology, roofing and other building materials;
  2. Layout of the site and building orientation to make best use natural light , natural heating and cooling, and solar energy potential;
  3. Incorporation of low impact development techniques (including green roofs) to reduce the amount of asphalt and provide greater shading;
  4. Transportation demand management, including locating the project near mass transit, access to shuttle or bus services (preferably using alternative fuels), ridesharing programs, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, provision of Zip Car spaces;
  5. On-site renewable energy and combined heat and power generation;
  6. Use of clean and alternative fuels;
  7. Establishment of systems for on-site reuse and recycling of construction and demolition materials and recycling of occupant waste materials.

Effective Date

MEPA will immediately begin incorporating into new scoping certificates the requirement that the proponent identify measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. MEPA will require the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions once the protocol is available (anticipated for public notice by July 1, 2007).

To view a copy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Policy, please click here.

For a printable PDF of this article, please click here.

For further information, please contact Deborah A. Eliason at deliason@bdlaw.com or Stephen M. Richmond at srichmond@bdlaw.com.