All people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution, to live and work in a healthy environment, and to enjoy parks and nature. The people most likely to live next to a dirty power plant or close to a noisy highway are people of color, low-paid and low-income people, and those residents who do not speak English well or at all. Environmental Justice (EJ) is the power of people to influence decisions about what happens in their neighborhood and to be protected by environmental laws.

For decades, residents throughout the Commonwealth have opposed trash burning incinerators, landfills, and polluting power plants. Data shows that facilities like these are often concentrated in low income communities and communities of color. From the Commonwealth’s first EJ policy in 2002 to a 2014 executive order, the new millennium showed signs of progress. But today, inequality in Massachusetts continues to worsen and the state has not fulfilled its commitment to EJ. For this reason, community groups and environmental organizations are working together on legislation that would add a definition of environmental justice into state law, ensure a robust process for projects planned in EJ communities and require owners of facilities pay for language translation and interpretation at public meetings to describe their proposed projects.

The Act relative to Environmental Justice in the Commonwealth would:

Protect Communities from More Pollution

The Act expands the requirements for state government environmental review to include
public health impacts and long-term harms when deciding whether to prohibit polluting
projects.

Increase Access To Government And Information

The Act ensures that polluters pay for translation of written information into languages
spoken by nearby residents and interpretation at public meetings so that everyone can learn about a project and share their opinion with decision makers. The Act also requires public meetings to be held in convenient locations at times when people are able to attend.

Send a Message to Your State Representative

For more info, contact Nancy Goodman, ngoodman@environmentalleague.org