Now’s the time to set our sights on 100% clean energy

We know we must transition to 100% clean, renewable energy — and the sooner we get there, the better. State officials should pass the 100% Clean Act before the end of the legislative session on July 31.

For a long time, we’ve known that burning fossil fuels like oil and gas is polluting our air, harming our health, and changing our climate in dangerous ways.

To protect our health and avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we must transition to 100% clean, renewable energy — and the sooner we get there, the better.

The good news is that it’s possible. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen more and more evidence that a rapid transition to clean energy is achievable. For example:

  • In April, the University of Massachusetts Amherst — the Commonwealth’s flagship public university — committed to phase out the use of fossil fuels on campus and transition to 100% renewable energy by 2032. Within the next decade, UMass will buy enough renewable electricity to match all of the power consumed on campus, and replace its fossil-fuel-powered steam heating system with clean resources like solar thermal and geothermal. This is one of the most ambitious clean energy commitments of any university in the country.
  • Last weekend, California briefly generated enough power from renewable sources to power virtually the entire state’s electric grid. While this lasted for only a few minutes, it’s a testament to the rapid growth in California’s clean energy generation capacity over the past decade, thanks in part to a law committing the state to run on 100% clean electricity year-round by 2045. And it demonstrates that clean energy technologies are ready to meet a growing share of our needs.
  • The Union of Concerned Scientists released a new report showing that we can power Massachusetts with 100% renewable electricity by 2035. Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy would reduce air pollution and improve public health, potentially preventing hundreds of premature deaths and more than 22,000 missed workdays over the next two decades. And under a 100% renewable electricity scenario, the cost to consumers is projected to be similar to what we would pay for energy if we were to continue using fossil fuels.

While powering our society with 100% renewable energy is both necessary and feasible, we won’t get there unless we have the right policies in place at the state level to support the transition to clean energy.

Fortunately, Massachusetts legislators are considering the 100% Clean Act (H.3288, S.2136), filed by state Reps. Marjorie Decker and Sean Garballey. This bill would transition Massachusetts to clean energy for electricity, heating, and transportation — the three sectors that are responsible for the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions in our state.

The 100% Clean Act isn’t just about setting clean energy aspirations — it’s about taking action. Some of the bill’s most important provisions include:

  • Increasing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to help achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, with at least 80% of our electricity coming from renewable sources like solar and wind.
  • Requiring all new cars sold after 2035 to be electric vehicles.
  • Requiring new homes and businesses to be built with clean, efficient, all-electric heating technologies like air source heat pumps.

Leaders in the House of Representatives, including energy committee chair Rep. Jeff Roy, have pledged to take action on climate change this year. But they haven’t said whether the 100% Clean Act will be part of the package of energy legislation that gets sent to Gov. Baker’s desk for his signature. Unless clean energy supporters make their voices heard, we could end up with a bill that doesn’t do nearly enough to move Massachusetts toward a cleaner, healthier future.

That’s why Environment Massachusetts has launched a major grassroots campaign in support of the 100% Clean Act. We’re mobilizing our members, through door-to-door canvassing and phone outreach, to contact their state representatives. Over the coming weeks, we will generate thousands of phone calls and emails from constituents asking lawmakers to pass the 100% Clean Act as part of a comprehensive package of climate legislation this session. Our goal is to recruit more state representatives to step up as clean energy champions and build the groundswell of support necessary to get the 100% Clean Act moving on Beacon Hill.

We have only a few weeks left before the end of the legislative session on July 31. Now is the time for Massachusetts to take a decisive step toward 100% renewable energy.

You can take action today by asking your state representative to support the 100% Clean Act. With your help, we can win a big victory for cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for all of us.

Ask your state representative to support the 100% Clean Act

Ask your state representative to support the 100% Clean Act

When our communities run on renewable energy, our air will be cleaner, our families will be healthier, and we'll have a shot at preventing the worst impacts of global warming. Ask your state representative to support the 100% Clean Act today.

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Authors

Ben Hellerstein

State Director, Environment Massachusetts

Ben directs Environment Massachusetts’ efforts to promote clean air, clean water, clean energy and open spaces in Massachusetts. In 2016, he launched a campaign to repower Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy. Prior to assuming his current role, Ben led the organization’s effort to get Massachusetts to 20 percent renewable electricity by 2025. His areas of expertise lie in renewable energy and the impacts of fossil fuel pollution, and he has authored reports on clean energy policies at the local, state and federal levels, earning media coverage statewide. Ben lives in Boston, where he enjoys exploring the city on foot, by bike and by public transit.

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