SJC rules Mass. failed to issue proper regulations to cut emissions
By David Abel Globe Staff
In a decision environmental advocates hailed as a landmark, the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Massachusetts regulators must set specific limits on various sources of greenhouse gases to comply with the legal obligation to reduce emissions linked to climate change.
For years, environmental groups have argued that both the Patrick and Baker administrations have not done enough to meet the mandates of the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires the state to cut its greenhouse gases 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
State officials have countered that the law only requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to set emissions targets, not hard caps, and that it gives the agency broad discretion over how to reach them.
In a rebuff to the state, the Supreme Judicial Court sided with the environmental groups and in a unanimous decision ordered the Baker administration to enact specific policies to carry out the required emissions cuts.
“The purpose of [the law] is to attain actual, measurable, and permanent emission reductions in the Commonwealth, and . . . to ensure that legally mandated reductions are realized by the 2020 deadline,” Justice Robert J. Cordy wrote, overturning a Superior Court ruling.
Cordy described the language of the Global Warming Solutions Act as “unambiguous” and said it requires the state to establish “limits on multiple greenhouse gas emissions sources . . . [that] must decline on an annual basis.”