Boston – State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield) announces that his legislation, S. 2032 - An Act relative to renewable energy generation on closed landfills received the unanimous approval of the Massachusetts Senate this evening, with a vote of 36-0.
Downing, who serves as the Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, sponsored this legislation after speaking with the state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. The officials advised that the enabling legislation (section 9H of Chapter 723 of the Acts of 1983) of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) now inactive Landfill Capping Grant Program limited future use of a capped site solely to active or passive recreational purposes.
In the 1980s and 1990s the DEP Landfill Capping Grant Program awarded financial assistance to more than twenty cities, towns and solid waste disposal districts, including Williamstown, located in Downing’s district, for the purpose of planning, design and construction of projects for the closure, in an environmental sound manner, of publicly-owned landfills.
Downing’s bill amends the statue by adding the term “renewable energy projects” as an acceptable future use for any closed landfills that received grant monies under the Program. Such projects must still receive all necessary and appropriate permits.
Cities and towns statewide are looking to capped landfill sites to host renewable energy projects: the communities of Amherst, Braintree, Canton, Plymouth and Sharon are currently taking steps to install solar arrays on their former municipal landfills that were closed with the assistance of the DEP Landfill Capping Grant Program.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.