Massachusetts, USA


The Carbon Dioxide  Removal Leadership Act, or CDRLA, (S.2096) is state legislation that, as law, would establish a state-administered annual carbon dioxide removal procurement commitment. 

The CDRLA’s core policy components include:

1. Annual capped reverse-auction. A fiscally sound carbon removal demand policy must incorporate market-based mechanisms that contain public costs, and select for the most economically, technically and socially effective options. The CDRLA implements an annual reverse auction that sets annual maximum cost ceilings ($/tonne CO2), and forces bidders to compete on price. These maximum price ‘caps’ decline annually to reflect real solution cost reductions, and to limit fiscal impact.

2. Standards-based and method neutral. Auction selection criteria will not be limited to predetermined CDR pathways or methods. (Except that projects “shall not incorporate enhanced oil recovery or otherwise facilitate the extraction, refinement or delivery of fossil fuel energy.”) Rather project selection will be based on standards that select for quality and impact. In this way, the CDRLA will continuously accommodate and propel new carbon removal innovations as they reach market-readiness.

3. Multivariable selection criteria to promote community, equity and ecological co-benefits; and in-state projects. Cost will be a critical auction selection factor, but not the only factor. The CDRLA’s multivariable procurement scorecard framework will award selection advantage to projects that are located in-state; demonstrate clear economic and social co-benefits to local communities (including good-paying union jobs); and/or advance ecological protection and restoration. Projects that demonstrate potential harm to communities and ecosystems will be categorically disqualified from consideration.

4. Broad eligibility for multiple project types, scales and business models. Diversifying and democratizing CDR is critical to its ultimate scale up, and is an underpinning of equitable outcomes. Therefore CDRLA will achieve annual CDR procurement targets through diverse project portfolios that will reflect a variety of solution types, scales, and business and partnership models, including community-led initiatives.

5. Robust community input and consultation. A successful CDRLA   procurement program will be co-created by the communities where carbon removal will be realized in the future. And not just at the project stage, but earlier during the auction program design and development phase. The state will a.) complete regional community consultation and input exercises throughout the state during the rulemaking and pre-implementation phase and b.) formulate mandatory community input and acceptance methodologies and protocols that must be executed by CDR project proposers as a component of bid submission and review.

6. 5-year budget Authorization. The CDRLA would be budget authorized for an initial 5 year period (2025-2029). This period affords the state an opportunity to trial, learn and adapt by doing, and establishes a clear timeframe for program extension, alternation or suspension by the legislature based on initial program experience and outcomes.

7. Fully fiscally supported by repeal of existing tax exemption. The annual CDR procurements and all other activities specified by the CDRLA will be fully funded by the repeal of existing sales tax exemptions on aircraft, and aircraft replacement parts and repairs.

Politics Note

The CDRLA (S.2096) was introduced by Massachusetts State Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem in January 2023. Senator Creem virtually announced her intention to introduce the legislation in November 2022 during the UNFCCC COP28 conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The bill’s core design was significantly inspired by earlier state legislation of the same name that was introduced one year earlier (2022) New York State. The New York version was conceived and drafted by members of the grassroots advocacy network OpenAir.  While that bill – the first of its kind proposed in the United States – failed to advance to committee during the 2022 session, but attracted the attention of Sen. Creem, a prominent climate policy champion in the Commonwealth. Sen. Creem collaborated with OpenAir advocates to modify the New York legislation to reduce fiscal impact and tailor it more closely to the Massachusetts policy context.