Senate Passes Bill to Establish Climate Change Adaptation Management Action Plan with Senator Jason Lewis’ Support

Taking another step toward responsible long-term environmental management, the Massachusetts State Senate passed S.2196, a bill to establish a comprehensive adaptation management action plan (CAMP) in response to climate change.

A comprehensive adaptation management action plan would be established through a collaboration led by the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Secretary of Public Safety and Security. The plan would codify for the Baker Administration and all future administrations the goals, priorities, and principles for resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of the Commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure, based on data around existing and projected climate change impacts including temperature changes, drought, inland flooding, and sea level rise. The plan would go into effect in 2018 with an update every five years.

“The science behind climate change is well-established; but, while climate deniers slow responsible action to address climate change, our climate features more and more extreme weather incidents,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “This legislation will empower our state government to be better prepared to address the challenges of an environmental future affected by climate change.”

Through the legislation, a CAMP Advisory Commission would be established through the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. The committee would be charged with producing a report that documents the preparedness and vulnerabilities in the Commonwealth’s emergency response, energy, transportation, communications, health, and other systems. The group would also put forth a proposal that establishes and commits to sound management practices while compiling data on existing and projected sea-level rise using the best available science.

The legislation also establishes a regional, comprehensive climate change adaptation management plan grant program to aid in the development of regional adaptation plans. The program consists of financial assistance to municipalities for the development and implementation of comprehensive cost-effective adaptation management plans; technical planning guidance for adaptive municipalities through climate vulnerability assessments and adaptation strategy development; and, development of a definition of impacts by supporting municipalities conducting climate vulnerability assessments. The grants shall be used to advance efforts to adapt land use, zoning, infrastructure, policies, and programs to reduce the vulnerability of the built and natural environment to changing environmental conditions that are a result of climate change. The secretary of energy and environmental affairs shall also develop and implement an outreach and education program about climate change and its effects in low-income and urban areas.

The bill also creates a coastal buy-back program authorizing the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to acquire, by voluntary purchase, property abutting areas subject to tides or barrier beaches or located in velocity zones of flood plain areas that contain structures repeatedly damaged by severe weather. Prior to the acquisition of land under this section, the executive office shall, after consultation with the municipality in which the land is located, develop a conservation and recreation management plan and a coastal erosion mitigation and management plan.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.