Beveridge & Diamond
 

Massachusetts EEA Issues Final MEPA Greenhouse Gas Policy and Protocol

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., October 23, 2007

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (now known as EEA) has issued a final greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions policy and protocol (Policy) for projects undergoing Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) review.  The Policy incorporates substantive GHG evaluation requirements for several classes of projects and expectations of GHG project mitigation. 

The Policy applies to any new project for which an Environmental Notification Form is filed for MEPA review after October 31, 2007.  Specifically, the Policy will apply to MEPA project proponents who are required to complete an environmental impact report and where the proposed project (i) is undertaken by the Commonwealth or a state agency, (ii) will receive financial assistance from the Commonwealth or a state agency, (iii) requires any air quality permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), or (iv) requires a vehicular access permit from the Massachusetts Highway Department under its new permitting rules.  Notices of project change for projects on which environmental impact reports were filed prior to October 31, 2007 will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine if the projects will be required to comply with the Policy. 

If a project is subject to the Policy, EEA requires a project proponent to calculate the baseline condition, which includes quantification of GHG emissions from three separate sources: direct emissions from stationary sources, indirect emissions from energy consumption, and indirect emissions from traffic generation and associated fuel combustion.  On a case by case basis, EEA may require additional emissions evaluations, such as for landfills that emit methane.  The Policy does not require use of any particular quantification models, although several are recommended. 

Following the quantification of GHG emissions for the project as proposed, project proponents must calculate the GHG emissions reductions associated with project alternatives.  Proponents will be expected to compare total baseline emissions for each of the project alternatives presented, to explain which alternatives are being rejected, and the reasons for the rejections.

The Policy encourages proponents to avoid or minimize GHG emissions through direct mitigation at the project site.  When on-site avoidance or minimization strategies are not feasible, EEA will be receptive to proposals for off-site measures.  The Policy also states that EEA will consider, on a case-by-case basis, proposals to opt-out of the quantification analysis where a proponent commits in advance to exceptional measures, presumably related to GHG avoidance or minimization.

For additional information on the Policy, please contact Stephen Richmond at srichmond@bdlaw.com, Brian Levey at Blevey@bdlaw.com, or Deborah Eliason at DEliason@bdlaw.com.