One month after the legislature passed the Environmental Bond Bill, Governor Baker holds ceremonial bill-signing in Quincy
Boston (MA) – On Tuesday, August 21st, Governor Charlie Baker ceremonially signed bipartisan legislation to authorize over $2.4 billion in capital bonds for projects that will improve recreational opportunities, and safeguard residents, municipalities, and businesses from the impacts of climate change. The bond bill will also boost the Commonwealth’s environmental protection enforcement by allocating over $474 million to support programs at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and other agencies ranging from air and water quality monitoring to hazardous waste cleanup and the restoration of rivers, wetlands, streams, and lakes. This includes an additional $60 million for the Commonwealth’s Clean Water Trust to continue its strong partnership with cities and towns in developing water infrastructure projects.
“I’m proud to have advocated for the passage of this historic bill that will preserve our natural resources and protect residents of the Commonwealth from the impacts of climate change,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), who advocated for the passage of the bill in July. “Investing in our air, land, water, and food is essential for ensuring the health of our residents, our environment, and our economy. Each investment made today also protects the quality of life for future generations – every problem we confront now helps to avert a crisis down the road.”
An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity (H. 4835) enables critical environmental investments at the state and local levels and will put into law an integrated strategy for climate change adaptation across the Commonwealth, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program and the Statewide Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Plan.
Recognizing the significant impact of climate change on coastal and inland communities, the legislation authorizes $501 million to respond to and prepare for extreme weather, sea level rise, inland flooding and other climate impacts. The legislation allocates $581 million to continue supporting communities around the Commonwealth and the environmental stewardship work they do.
In order to ensure that all Massachusetts residents have high-quality access to outdoor recreational opportunities, the legislation authorizes $665 million to enable investment in deferred maintenance and recreational resource stewardship across state government – including $25 million for the expansion and interconnection of trails through the MassTrails program and $400 million for Department of Conservation and Recreation recreational facilities across the Commonwealth.
To protect the Commonwealth’s maritime industry, the legislation will allow the Department of Fish and Game to update decades-old fines and penalty schedules for marine fisheries violations, including doubling non-criminal fines and increasing criminal penalties. To ensure the continued viability of Massachusetts’ agricultural industry and protect family farms, the legislation reduces the estate tax on farmland in agricultural use for at least 10 years.
“This bill reflects the Commonwealth’s commitment to being a leader on climate change preparedness and protecting our natural resources for the public good,” said Senator Eldridge, who serves on the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “I look forward to seeing how communities across Massachusetts benefit from this legislation.”