Pro Bono

Fighting Inadequate Enforcement of MA Global Warming Law

One reason not to be complacent towards global warming: Duxbury beach

It may come as no surprise that Massachusetts has an “extraordinarily ambitious” response to global warming (Global Warming Solutions Act – GWSA). It calls for reducing MA’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, and by 80% by 2050.

However, many will find it surprising that MassDEP has done little to comply with the key section of that legislation. Even the EEA Secretary admitted that MA has “no chance” of meeting its 2020 emission reduction goal on its current pace.

That is why the Conservation Law Foundation, led by former A&K lawyer Jenny Rushlow, sued MassDEP, saying that it had failed to promulgate the greenhouse gas-reducing regulations that the GWSA required. While CLF lost in superior court, the SJC has taken the case on direct review.

Art Kreiger and Jessica Wall have filed an amicus brief supporting CLF on behalf of A&K long-time pro bono partner Alternatives for Community and Environment, the Town of Duxbury and a Nobel Peace Prize-winning climate scientist from Tufts.

The brief points out that the GWSA recognizes that traditional environmental permitting method of reducing pollution rates (DEP’s approach) won’t work against climate change – “Such a problem calls for a fundamentally different type of environmental regulation. It requires nothing less than the regulation of total emissions.”

It also refutes DEP’s argument (accepted by the lower court) that regulations that comply with the GWSA would stifle economic growth – “The Act is technology-forcing: compliance will require the development of technological innovations.” And, quoting the Secretary, “Aggressive action to reduce global warming can advanceeconomic growth.”

The Globe covered the suit in the article “Suit faults Mass. record in cutting emissions.”

Please contact Art with questions:
(617) 621-6540

Or contact Jess:
(617) 621-6562

Photo credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

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