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16 February 2017

Massachusetts lawmakers back 100% renewable energy bill

Massachusetts could become the first state in America to be powered entirely by renewable energy.

Legislators in Massachusetts announced a bill on Monday 13 February that commits the state to meet all of its energy needs from renewables by 2050.

The legislation, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sean Garballey and Marjorie Decker and in the Senate by Sen. Jamie Eldridge, calls for the transition to occur in two stages.

First, Massachusetts must acquire all of its electricity from renewables such as wind and solar by 2035.

Secondly, the state must eliminate the use of fossil fuels for heating, transportation, and other sectors by 2050.

If passed, the bill will see Massachusetts become the first state in the U.S. to pursue the ambitious goal of sourcing all its power needs from renewables.

Known as the “100 Percent Renewable Energy Act”, the legislation already has 53 co-sponsors and bipartisan support from more than a quarter of state lawmakers.

Previous targets set by the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act committed the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Ben Hellerstein, State Director of Environment Massachusetts, said: “With officials in Washington, D.C. threatening to roll back clean energy and climate policies, it’s time for states to step up.”

The new bill would establish a Clean Energy Workforce Development Fund to provide Massachusetts residents with employment in renewable technologies; the fund will also go towards shifting fossil workers into clean energy jobs.

Garballey described the bill as a “bold step” to put the state on a “path to a cleaner and more sustainable future…it signals to the country our commitment to long-term solutions in meeting the very real challenges of climate change".

The news follows the announcement that the U.S. solar market saw an increase of 95 per cent of newly installed solar capacity last year, installing a phenomenal 14.6 gigawatts (GW) in 2016.

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