Action Alerts from Farms, Forests & Food Systems Group

Let Towns Regulate Solar Siting

H4331 An Act allowing municipalities to reasonably regulate solar siting ~ Sponsored by Jacob Oliveira

Written testimony is being accepted for H4331– An Act allowing municipalities to reasonably regulate solar siting–until Friday, March 4, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. Apparently, no oral testimony is being invited. 

This bill would update a 1970s law regulating ground mounted solar panels. It allows municipalities to regulate the siting of non-residential solar systems for purposes of preserving forested lands, wetlands, lands in agricultural use or to ensure compatibility with municipal zoning. The current law was written before governments began incentivizing renewable energy. Today solar is being deployed widely throughout Massachusetts, but the law does not permit municipalities to engage in the siting of solar, except “where necessary to protect the public health, safety or welfare.” This bill simply allows municipalities to reasonably regulate the siting of commercial, governmental, or non-residential solar systems.

Written testimony can be submitted via email to Magda Garncarz at magdalena.garncarz@mahouse.gov and Lexi Concannon at lexi.concannon@masenate.gov

When submitting testimony, please send one attachment with the following document title format:  Bill# – Your Name OR Your Organization’s Name – Support/Oppose

 If you have any questions, please reach out to committee staff by emailing magdalena.garncarz@mahouse.gov or lexi.concannon@masenate.gov

  • The text of H4331 / S2596 is here.
  • There will be no public hearing but read testimony here submitted for S2596 on January 11, 2022.
  • The senate bill was sent to study (meaning it was not supported and sent to a slow legislative death) by the TUE committee. Why? The 7 minute video of Sen. Barrett responding to this question at the Elders Climate Action (2/8/22) may provide context and perhaps inform what you write in your testimony. https://youtu.be/qOXz4lp3ao0
  • The link to the recorded hearing on S2596 is here .
  • A fact sheet on the benefit is here.

Help Amherst, Shutesbury and Pelham residents preserve acres of forest slated for massive solar arrays: visit Smart Solar Western Mass

Limit Pesticide Use — Dec. 14 Hearing before the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Joint Cmte

Priority Bills

  • Protect Schoolchildren from Pesticides H.926/S.498
  • Move the Pesticide Board to the Dept. of Environmental Protection H.4143
  • Ecological Mosquito Control S.556/H.937
  • Protect Raptors from Rat Poison, update Pesticide Reporting H.3991
  • Return Local Control over pesticides H.910

Other bills

  • Ban Consumer Use of Glyphosate (gly-fo-sate) S.575 /H.929
  • Restrict glyphosate on public lands S.574
  • Protection Against Chemical Trespass S.555, H.1001
  • Ban neonicotinoids S.528
  • Ban chlorpyrifos S.522/ H.936
  • Provide for Mosquito Spray Opt-out S.618
  • Protect groundwater from pesticides S.510
  • Restrict pesticides use on golf courses H.975

Collectively, these bills have been filed by Representatives Lindsay Sabadosa, Mindy Domb, Carmine Gentile, Tami Gouveia, and Dylan Fernandes and by Senators Adam Hinds, Jason Lewis, Bill Brownsberger, Jason Lewis, Jamie Eldridge, Bruce Tarr, and Julian Cyr. Many more of our legislators signed on as co-sponsors.

Forest protection bills: More information HERE from Save Massachusetts Forests

H.912, An Act Relative to Forest Protection is sponsored by Representative Michael Finn (6th Hampden District).

This bill would update century-old public land policies written before we recognized the climate crisis and global loss of biodiversity. The bill would help address these concerns by permanently designating 412,000 acres of lands controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as parks and reserves. We would be conserving intact ecosystems to be influenced primarily by natural processes in our forests and parks.

H.1002 , An Act Relative to Increased Protection of Wildlife Management Areas, sponsored by Representative Lindsay Sabadosa (1st Hampshire District).

This bill would expand the system of Nature Reserves in Wildlife Management Areas under the control of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and make them permanent. The bill would direct the designation of at least 30% of agency’s lands as Nature Reserves by 2030, consistent with the latest biological and climate science.

Co-sponsors needed for bills filed for the 2021-22 legislative session

Fund the Healthy Soils initiative: SIGN ON to support this bill and thank legislators this new program

Representative Paul Schmid, House lead on the successful Healthy Soils Bill which passed in January(!), is now submitting a $160K budget appropriation request to help start the new program. Ask your legislators to support this budget appropriation. More information HERE from NOFA Mass.