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Massachusetts goes to court over emissions limits

Massachusetts officials will go to court this week to defend against a lawsuit saying they are not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conservation Law Foundation will argue before the state’s highest court that the administrations of Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and his predecessor Gov. Deval Patrick (D) have not done enough to meet the targets prescribed by Massachusetts’ 2012 climate change law, the Boston Globe reports.

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The law mandates a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020 below 1990 levels.

Before the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station announced it will close, greens predicted the state would only slash emissions 20 percent in that timeline, the Globe said.

But the loss of the massive carbon-free power source as early as next year will make the target even harder. The Conservation Law Foundation is now forecasting only a 16 percent to 19 percent reduction.

“The delay in implementing the law is egregious,” Bradley Campbell, the group’s president, said in a statement. “There have been no efforts to implement the additional policies called for in the state’s clean energy and climate plan.”

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton told state lawmakers in November that there is “not a chance” the goals will be attained in the timeline provided under the law, absent additional legislative action from lawmakers.

In a statement to the Globe, Beaton said “Massachusetts remains a nationally recognized leader on combating climate change, but action is needed on existing policies and the administration’s proposal for cost-effective, low-carbon hydroelectric power generation.”

In court, officials have said the law only requires that the state set emissions goals, not hard caps on pollution, and it is therefore complying.