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Media Contact: Karissa Hand
Press Release, Mass.gov
Press Release Summary
The press release from Mass.gov announces that Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has created the Commission on Clean Energy Infrastructure Siting and Permitting (CEISP). The commission will bring together stakeholders to recommend ways to streamline the siting and permitting of clean energy projects in order to meet the state's emissions targets.
Members of the commission include representatives from state agencies, municipalities, environmental justice groups, climate advocates, utilities, agriculture, and the clean energy industry. The commission will be tasked with reducing permitting timelines, ensuring community input, and equitable sharing of benefits from the clean energy transition.
The release quotes Governor Healey stating the commission will help Massachusetts deliver affordable clean energy and economic growth. It also quotes the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Rebecca Tepper, who says the diverse commission membership will produce balanced, actionable recommendations. Recommendations are expected in Spring 2024.
The CEISP seems like a promising step to improve the clean energy siting process in Massachusetts. It's great to see the state recognizing the need to accelerate permitting to meet climate goals, and particularly encouraging that youth, Tribal, agricultural, and environmental justice groups—often underrepresented in such discussions—will have a voice on the commission. Their participation is vital to ensure the outcomes of the commission carefully considers impacts on all stakeholders.
However, the release seems to continue a pattern of “streamlining” the siting and permitting process for renewable energy development, already seen in New York and California through measures passed in the past three years. The MIT Renewable Energy Clinic recommends incorporating collaborative community engagement, including through Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution (ECCR) methods, into siting policies. This approach can help address local concerns and gain community support, essentially “going slow to go fast” in achieving a just energy transition. We encourage the commission to consider deeper community engagement, including neutral mediation resources, in their recommendations. For more information on a university-based clinical approach to renewable energy siting, check out our forthcoming commentary piece in Cell Reports Sustainability here.
Hand, Karissa. 2023. “Governor Healey Creates Commission to Accelerate Siting and Permitting of Clean Energy Infrastructure.” Press Release. Mass.Gov. September 26, 2023. https://www.mass.gov/news/governor-healey-creates-commission-to-accelerate-siting-and-permitting-of-clean-energy-infrastructure.