MassDEP Proposes New Regulations to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions



On December 16, 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issued proposed regulations to meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision Kain v. Department of Environmental Protection decision, and Governor Baker's Executive Order 569:  Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth.  In particular, the MassDEP proposed the following amendments and new regulations to meet the requirements:

  • Amend 310 CMR 7.72:  Reducing Sulfur Hexafluoride Emissions from Gas-Insulated Switchgear

    The proposed amendments would establish mass-based, annually declining limits on aggregate sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions from gas insulated switchgear (GIS) for each company that is subject to the existing declining emission rate.  It also prevents increases in aggregate SF6 emissions that could occur due to deployment of additional GIS equipment.  A GIS owning company is one that is required to report SF6 emissions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to 40 CFR Part 98, Subpart DD:  Electrical Transmission and Distribution Equipment Use.

  • New 310 CMR 7.73:  Reducing Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Distribution Mains and Services

    This new regulation is aimed at reducing methane (CH4) emissions from natural gas distribution mains and services in the state by establishing mass-based, annually declining aggregate limits.  The limits would apply to CH4 emissions from main and service lines owned by gas operators with Gas System Enhancement Plans (GSEPs).

  • New 310 CMR 7.74:  Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electricity Generating Facilities

    This new regulation would establish declining annual aggregate GHG emission limits from new and existing electricity generating facilities in Massachusetts for the years 2018 through 2050.  Applicable facilities are those required to report annual GHG emissions to the EPA pursuant with 40 CFR Part 98, Subpart D:  Electricity Generation.

  • New 310 CMR 7.75:  Clean Energy Standard

    This new regulation would require retail sellers of electricity consumed in Massachusetts to purchase annually increasing amounts of clean energy for use by their customers.  Clean energy includes solar, wind, hydropower, landfill and digester gas, hydrokinetic, and geothermal.  A reseller is a competitive supplier licensed by the Department of Public Utilities, or an electric utility, municipal light department or municipal light board that is connected to the regional electric grid.  The percentage is based on the total annual sales to Massachusetts end-use customers by the seller.  There are separate requirements for municipal boards and departments, and non-municipal retail sellers.  The requirements start in 2018 at 18 percent, with requirements for municipal boards and departments beginning in 2021 at 7 percent, and rise incrementally to 80 percent for the year 2050 and beyond.

  • Amend 310 CMR 60.00:  Air Pollution Control for Mobile Sources

    The proposed amendments set mass-based annual aggregate "transportation GHG emissions" and aggregate "Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) transportation GHG emissions".  Aggregate transportation GHG emissions are estimated by the MassDOT in collaboration with the MassDEP, from the state's surface transportation system and transit networks.  MassDOT transportation GHG emissions are the total GHG emissions estimated by the MassDOT as occurring from the combustion of fuels in mobile equipment owned by the MassDOT and the Metropolitan Boston Transportation Agency (MBTA) and of heating fuels used at MassDOT and MBTA facilities.  The limits are set for the years 2018 through 2020.

    The regulation also stipulates requirements for transportation planning and investment for the following state entities:  Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), Regional Transportation Authorities (RTAs), the MassDEP, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA).

  • New 310 CMR 60.06:  CO2 Emission Limits for State Fleet Passenger Vehicles

    This new regulation proposes to set limits on CO2 emissions from passenger vehicles owned and leased by eight Commonwealth Executive Offices.  The regulation sets maximum annual CO2 limits for each of the offices for the years 2018 through 2024, along with corresponding aggregate CO2 limits.

Public Hearings and Comments

The MassDEP will be holding public hearings in early February at the MassDEP offices in Boston, Lakeville, Worcester, and Springfield.  A list of the hearing dates and locations can be found on the MassDEP website.

Oral comments may be presented at the public hearings while written comments may be submitted through February 24, 2017 in the following three ways:

The public comment period for the proposed changes ends on February 24, 2017, at 5:00 p.m.