Food, Energy, and Environment
Food loss and waste in the United States accounts for approximately 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the overall food supply. At the same time, millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity. Experts project that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would provide enough food for more than 25 million people every year. Nonprofits have attempted to both reduce the amount of food that goes to waste and the number of food insecure Americans by engaging in a practice called food rescue. Food rescue involves retrieving wholesome, discarded food from grocery stores, restaurants, food wholesalers and manufacturers, and food service providers and distributing it to food banks and other organizations that feed people in need. This legislation promotes food rescue by expanding liability protections for food donations and creating a tax deduction for farmers who donate crops.
This legislation standardizes the date labeling of food in order to mitigate consumer confusion and thereby reduce food waste. It establishes two kinds of date labels, one for a “quality date” that communicates the date after which the quality of the product may begin to deteriorate even as the product may still be acceptable for consumption, and one for a “safety date” that applies to certain high-risk products and signifies the end of the estimated period of shelf life under any stated storage conditions, after which the product may pose a health safety risk. The bill also eliminates onerous, unnecessary restrictions on the sale or donation of products whose quality date has passed. Finally, it provides that a food product that does not bear a label in accordance with the requirements established in the act is “misbranded.”
Many low-income residents don’t purchase fresh produce because they simply can’t afford it. Fortunately, there is a proven way to make fruits and vegetables more affordable and to incentivize low-income households to purchase them. From late 2011 through early 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducted the Healthy Incentives Pilot in Hampden County. The pilot rewarded participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for healthy eating by giving them a 30-cent benefit for every dollar they spent on targeted fruits and vegetables. It proved tremendously successful in incentivizing healthier eating. This legislation turns the successful Healthy Incentives Pilot into a statewide Healthy Incentives Program so that all SNAP beneficiaries can afford healthier, more nutritious diets.
The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) determines the amount of electricity that utilities must purchase each year from renewable energy sources, represented as a percentage of the utility’s total sales to customers. In 2017, the RPS requires that 12 percent of utilities’ electricity sales are derived from Class I renewable sources. If a utility does not contract for 12 percent of its electric sales from renewable sources, then it can make up the difference by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates. The RPS creates a market for green energy and makes it easier for municipalities and businesses to finance renewable energy projects. Currently, the RPS increases by one percentage point per year. Under my legislation, it would increase by two percentage points per year. That change would ensure that there continues to be robust demand for new renewable energy generation in Massachusetts, speeding our transition to a clean energy portfolio and helping us combat climate change.
The transportation sector is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in Massachusetts, accounting for roughly 40 percent of our emissions each year. And while we’ve significantly reduced our emissions that come from producing electricity, we’ve hardly made a dent in transportation emissions. That’s our next big challenge in the fight against climate change. This legislation promotes the adoption of electric vehicles by codifying the MOR-EV electric vehicle consumer rebate program. Under the program, consumers who purchase electric vehicles can receive rebates of up to $2,500.
This legislation re-establishes the Clean Environment Fund, the former destination of escheat revenue collected as a result of the bottle deposit law. The bill clarifies that all funds in the CEF shall be used for programs including the proper management of solid waste, water resource protection, parkland, urban forestry, air quality and climate protection; provided, however, that no funds shall be used for costs associated with incineration nor any process which disposes of solid waste by combustion or conversion to combustion fuels.
This legislation requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to conduct an investigation and study of the feasibility of enhancing statewide recycling programs and municipal waste management. The office shall also explore the feasibility of a statewide single-stream recycling pilot program, assess the viability of and costs associated with single-stream diverted material, and explore the feasibility of implementing a data-based sunset provision to the Massachusetts bottle deposit law.
This legislation requires any entity contracting to install solar equipment on a residence to disclose all financial terms and conditions and receive consent from the owner of the residence.