Massachusetts H 4835 - An Act Promoting Climate Change Adaptation, Environmental and Natural Resource Protection and Investment in Recreational Assets and Opportunity

Massachusetts Governor Baker has authorized over $2.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in adaptation to climate change, protecting environmental resources and green space across the state. H 4835 enables critical financing for the state and local level environmental and community resilience. The legislation expands and codifies commitments of Executive Order 569 to ensure climate change adaptation and resiliency continue to be prioritized, state agency climate change vulnerability assessments are ongoing, and the State Integrated Hazard Mitigation Plan and Climate Adaptation Plan are continuously updated and implemented.   

The legislation includes over $350 million in authorizations for critical infrastructure and the prevention, adaptation and mitigation of climate change. $185 million is authorized for investments in coastal and inland infrastructure, such as dams and seawalls, as well as nature-based solutions for climate change resilience. Another $100 million is authorized for continuous implementation of the integrated state hazard and climate adaptation plan, and $75 million to partner with cities and towns in the municipal vulnerability preparedness program. Other key capital authorizations to address climate change include $16.5 million for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to develop and support climate-based emergency response and natural hazards preparedness programs; and $10 million for the climate change science and data program to track and monitor impacts from climate change, and the maintenance and expansion of the climate change clearinghouse data and tools available to municipalities. 

The Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security will publish a state plan that includes a statewide adaptation strategy every 5 years incorporating: climate trends and impacts, risk and vulnerability assessment of key assets, natural resources and the built environment, an evaluation of the state’s adaptive capacity, goals and strategic plan to meet these goals, strategies for adaptation to complement mitigation measures, natural resource conservation - as well as guidance for state agency, municipality and regional planning. 

The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Grant Program is being implemented through H 4835, which will provide financial and technical assistance for cities and towns to complete climate-related vulnerability assessments, community-led resilience planning, complete integrated climate change adaptation plans and local hazard mitigation plans, and to implement local and regional adaptation solutions identified through these plans. 

The legislation finances an outreach and education program about climate change and its effects for low-income, environmental justice and urban communities to increase participation in the municipal vulnerability preparedness grant program

Allocations are made also for “acquisition, development, construction and improvement of parks in urban and suburban neighborhoods currently underserved with parks and that are consistent with attainment of environmental equity, including community engagement and planning related to these parks.” The legislation details allocations for many chosen underserved parks. For example, no less than $900,000 will go to the development of Omelia park in the city of Gardner; and no less than $1,000,000 will be expended for maintenance and improvements to Holyoke Heritage state park in the city of Holyoke.  

 

The Department of Conservation and Recreation will oversee a forestry and tree planting program - giving priority to the planting in areas “experiencing heat island effects, underserved with tree cover, affected by severe weather events or insect infestation, in areas where aquifers, recharge areas, wells, reservoirs and other water bodies are located that will improve and protect water quality as part of a natural ecosystem and in furtherance of environmental equity, climate change mitigation, adaptation and resiliency strategies.”

A program will be implemented to acquire and protect coastal lands for the purposes of open space, recreation and conservation - that have been, or are projected to be, subject to recurrent flooding, storm surges, wave action or erosion - or projected to be impacted catastrophically by extreme weather events, astronomical high tides or elevated sea levels related to climate change.

Grant programs will be implemented for land, soil, water and natural resource conservation; open space preservation; watershed remediation; coastal resource protection, including securing access to protected coastal lands and lands to provide for the inland migration of coastal habitats; recreation; environmental equity and wildlife and endangered species protection. This includes programs to support landscape-scale land conservation projects, the drinking water supply protection grant program, grant programs to assist and provide funding to conservation districts, and grants to support initiatives that promote carbon sequestration and climate change resiliency through sustainable forestry and salt marsh restoration.

Many projects are allocated funding under these grant programs - for example: no less than $4,750,000 will go to a flood management study of the Assawompset pond complex that is a part of the Taunton river watershed, and $1,500,000 is allocated for the installation of a high-efficiency irrigation system and the planting of native trees, shrubs, ground cover and restoration of the historic hedge row to promote water conservation, manage stormwater and reduce runoff at Tanglewood in the town of Lenox.

Funding will go to the design, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, retrofitting, repair or removal of coastal infrastructure and resiliency measures, including, but not limited to, seawalls, jetties, revetments, retaining walls, beach nourishment, living shorelines and other nature-based solutions - to enhance climate adaptation, build resilience and support mitigation. Grants and loans may be made to local governments for these projects. Some projects have been determined, for example:

$1,500,000 will be expended to the town of Duxbury for costs associated with coastal infrastructure improvements; no less than $200,000 to the city of Salem for costs associated with coastal remediation and resiliency and seawall repair; $660,000 per year will be allocated to the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program for the purposes of implementing a comprehensive plan for coastal habitat protection and restoration related to coastal resilience; and no less than $35,000 will be expended for a climate resiliency study at Beach point in the town of Truro. 

The legislation also supports the design, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, retrofitting, repair or removal of municipally-owned dams, publicly owned dams and other dams for which emergency action or statewide hazard mitigation is required and for inland flood control projects and projects for related facilities and equipment including, but not limited to, seawalls, jetties, revetments, retaining walls, beach nourishment and other nature-based solutions on publicly-owned land or related to state or municipal climate change adaptation and preparedness or for which emergency action or statewide hazard mitigation.

H 4835 will fund pilot innovative and green wastewater management technologies and approaches, and sustainable technologies at wastewater treatment facilities; and will provide for municipal grants for water and air quality protection, including to support training and workforce development for drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. 

Funds will also be available for investments for protection, remediation and restoration of aquatic and marine fisheries, wildlife species, land and marine plants and the habitats that support them. River and wetland restoration programs will be funded for river, wetland and river corridor revitalization, ecological restoration and protection of aquatic ecosystems and functions including, but not limited to, “dam and barrier removal, instream improvements, flow, water quality, riverine habitat, protection of high quality riparian and wetland habitat, assessment and mitigation of threats from climate change, flooding and improving recreational opportunities.” 

Additionally, $5,000,000 will be allocated to capitalize a Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund which will be administered by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, to implement many of these programs. 

 

Publication Date: August 21, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • State of Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game
  • Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Water Supply Protection
  • Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT)

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Resource Types:

  • Funding program
  • Laws

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