Governor Maura Healy signed an executive order her first full day after taking the oath of office to create the state’s first Cabinet-level climate position Friday, officially appointing Melissa Hoffer as Massachusetts’ Climate Chief.
Hoffer, who currently serves as the principal deputy general counsel at the US Environmental Protection Agency, will be tasked with overseeing progress in climate policy across all state agencies and ensuring the administration is prioritizing climate-forward policies in its decision making.
Healey announced she had filed the executive order at a State House press conference Friday establishing an Office Of Climate Innovation and Resilience and making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to have a Cabinet-level position devoted to fighting climate change, according to the Healey administration.
“The climate crisis is Massachusetts’ greatest challenge, but there is enormous opportunity in our response,” Healey said in a press release. “I’m filing this Executive Order today, on the first full day of the Healey-Driscoll Administration, because we have no time to delay. It’s essential that we begin coordinating our climate policy across all state agencies and all communities in Massachusetts so that we can make the progress we so urgently need and drive our clean energy economy.”
Since she announced her gubernatorial run in January 2022, climate has been a pillar of Healey’s campaign. In her inaugural address Thursday, Healey highlighted her administration’s ambitious climate resiliency goals for the state, including campaign promises to double offshore solar and wind targets and commit at least 1 percent of the state budget to environmental agencies.
Hoffer will play a consequential role in helping implement Healey’s climate objectives with more than a decade of experience navigating environmental policy in Massachusetts under her belt. Before working at the EPA, Hoffer was chief of the Energy and Environment Bureau at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office under Healey.
“The establishment of Climate Chief and the Office of Climate Innovation and Resilience is critical to Massachusetts’ future,” Hoffer said in the press release. “Climate change impacts all aspects of our lives, and it’s essential that we are coordinating our response across the entire government and the entire state. The action Governor Healey is taking today is putting Massachusetts on the path to a better, healthier, more equitable future.”
The Conservation Law Foundation, a New England environmental advocacy group where Hoffer worked between 2007 and 2012, released a statement following her appointment commending the Healy administration for “treating the climate crisis with urgency.”
“Choosing someone of Melissa’s stature and experience sends a strong signal and she will push the administration to hit the ground running on day one,” said president of CLF Brad Campbell in the statement. “Massachusetts communities are already feeling the impacts of the climate crisis and now is the time for bold action.”
In Massachusetts, the governor’s Cabinet is traditionally composed of 10 secretaries, making climate chief the 11th Cabinet post. Healey has also announced a plan to effectively split the position of Housing and Economic Development Secretary in two by creating a dedicated Housing secretary, a seat for which she has yet to name a nominee. According to the press release, the hiring process for secretaries of Labor and Workforce and Health and Human Services is active and ongoing.