Over 20 years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was sued by the federal government for violation of the Clean Water Act and pollution of Boston Harbor. State officials reflected on the process and began searching for ways to make this difficult period in Massachusetts environmental history a positive learning experience. In 1988 the federal lawsuit for violating the Clean Water Act in Boston Harbor was settled and the State Legislature established the Massachusetts Environmental Trust through Chapter 236, Section 7 of the Acts of 1988. The Trust was initially funded with $2 million dollars by the Legislature. The Trust is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Researcher collecting data

The Trust originally focused on protecting the Massachusetts coastal zone and marine waters, but in the interim increased its geographic scope to include the water resources of the entire Commonwealth. In time, funds generated from violations of environmental law were put to use in remediation, outreach and environmental education efforts.

Since 1988, the Trust has dispensed over $17 million through nearly 650 grants to organizations which have in turn made a remarkable impact on protecting and enhancing the state's water resources. Grants have been awarded to nonprofit organizations, municipalities and educational institutions in support of their efforts to restore and protect the ecosystems of the state's more than 10,000 miles of rivers and streams, 1,638 ponds and lakes, 1,519 miles of coastline, 48,000 acres of salt marsh, over 40,000 acres of tidal flats and estuaries, ocean resources, and 27 watersheds.

The Trust is guided by nine trustees appointed by the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The appointees are all private citizens and serve without pay. The day-to-day operations of the Trust are managed by an executive director and staff. In addition, the Trust is enhanced by a valuable network of advisors-scientists, educators, community leaders, environmental activists and philanthropists-who serve on special committees and bring their experience and passion for the environment to the grantmaking process.

Funding for the Trust is generated by proceeds from the sale of the special environmental license plates and environmental litigation settlements. There are currently some 50,000 drivers with MET plates, generating roughly $1,000,000 annually for environmental projects. In addition, the Trust has received 34 settlements, judgments, and civil actions, and administrative consent orders worth over $4,400,000 - including the civil action in 1988 that founded the trust with $2,000,000.

Environmental License Plates

The special environmental license plates are the only specialty plates sold in Massachusetts that exclusively fund environmental programs. The Right Whale & Roseate Terns, the Leaping Brook Trout, and the Blackstone Valley Mill plates represent the diversity of Massachusetts ecosystems. From the coasts and estuaries to the inland streams to the urban rivers, every person in Massachusetts feels the impact when waters are degraded. The plates are available from the Registry of Motor Vehicles .

  Whale Plate    fish plate    Mill Plate

For a list of both recent and past awards, check out our MET: Recent Awards page.


Board of Trustees

  • Robert Durand, Chair
  • Dicken Crane
  • John P. DeVillars
  • Marion R. Fremont-Smith
  • Arleen O'Donnell
  • Jeffrey Porter
  • Pam Resor

Contact Information

Kim Tilas, Program Manager
Phone (617) 626-1037

Kate McDermott, Program Coordinator
Phone: (617) 626-1075

Sue Lanza, Program Coordinator
Phone (617) 626-1068

Massachusetts Environmental Trust
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Office of Grants and Technical Assistance
100 Cambridge Street, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 626-1045
Fax: (617) 626-1181

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust.