On Aug. 9, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $2.4 billion environmental bond bill that the Legislature completed in the final days of the formal legislative session.
The law provides funding for investments for environmental programs, including authorizations for municipal infrastructure improvements to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.
It also includes $75 million for the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program, which supports cities and towns in planning for and adapting to the impacts of climate change by completing climate-related vulnerability assessments, developing resiliency plans, and completing integrated climate change adaptation and local hazard mitigation plans.
Adaptation solutions may include changes to policies, bylaws and plans, municipal infrastructure improvements, nature-based climate adaptation strategies, and repairs to address vulnerability and improve resiliency. More than 40 percent of cities and towns are now participating in the MVP program, according to the Baker administration.
The law codifies key principles in Gov. Charlie Baker’s Executive Order 569, “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth,” issued in 2016.
In addition, the legislation directs the secretaries of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Public Safety to publish a statewide adaptation plan every five years and establish and maintain a framework for each executive office to complete a vulnerability assessment. The law also codifies the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.
The law includes funds for the construction, repair and removal of coastal infrastructure and resiliency measures and for municipally owned dams. Funds for the Department of Environmental Protection include investments in air and water quality, grants for implementation of the Commonwealth’s Sustainable Water Management Initiative, and grants to municipalities to support compliance with new federal stormwater rules.
The House passed its final bill on June 13 and the Senate did so on July 12. A House-Senate conference committee was named on July 17 to work out differences between environmental bond bills passed by each chamber.