Public Comment Period on the Newly Issued Draft Environmental Justice Policy
Public Comment Period: August 7, 2015-September 30, 2015
*Please note the public comment period has been extended by 10 days.
The public comment period is now open for EEA’s draft Environmental Justice (EJ) Policy and will run until the end of September, closing on September 30, 2015 at 5PM. Submitted comments will inform EEA’s discussions around finalizing the updated EJ Policy. A copy of the draft EJ Policy is available below, along with its translated versions.
Comments may be made directly to the draft or on a separate document with reference to the specific section you are commenting on. Please be as clear and concise as possible, and include your full name, organization associated with comment (if applicable), and contact information with your submission. If you wish to submit your comments via mail, please do so to the following address:
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Attn: Michelle Reid, Director of Environmental Justice
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Comments may also be submitted electronically to Michelle Reid at Michelle.A.Reid@state.ma.us with the subject line “PUBLIC COMMENTS ON EJ POLICY”.
Draft Environmental Justice Policy:
EJ Policy Listening Sessions
During this public comment period, EEA is partnering with community EJ organizations to host a series of listening sessions across the state. Click on the link below to find out more information about a listening session near you!
Information Regarding EJ Listening Sessions
EJ Listening Session FAQs:
Q: How will the listening session be organized?
A: There will be a brief overview of the EJ Policy and the remainder of the time will be for public comment. Anyone wishing to offer a comment may proceed to do so within the allotted 3 minute time period. Comments may also be submitted in written form to Michelle Reid (in person) at the listening sessions.
Q: How long do we have at the listening session for our comments?
A: Comments should be limited to 3 minutes. We want to be sure that we hear from as many people as possible.
Q: Who will be attending the listening sessions from EEA?
A: Michelle Reid and other designated EEA staff. Staffing will be confirmed prior to the listening session date.
Q: Is the listening session a forum for all EJ matters in our community?
A: No. These listening sessions are for interested parties to offer comments on EEA’s draft EJ Policy only. The listening sessions will help inform EEA’s discussions around issuing the final, updated EJ Policy.
All questions should be directed to Michelle Reid, 617-626-7820
New Executive Order on Environmental Justice
The Executive Order 552 was issued on November 25th, 2014 requiring Secretariats to take action in promoting environmental justice. A link to the Executive Order can be found here:
What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice (EJ) is based on the principle that all people have a right to be protected from environmental pollution, and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. Environmental justice is the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits.
Historically, the environmental justice movement has been one of grassroots activism focusing on the rights and liberties of people of color and low-income communities relative to the environment and particularly, in response to the disproportionate burden of industrial pollution and lack of regulatory enforcement in these communities.
In 1994, President William Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," directing federal agencies to address environmental injustices in their operations and in communities across the country. Since, and in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states and municipalities have developed policies and programs to pro-actively address environmental equity concerns to help ensure that minority and low-income communities are not disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards.
Environmental Equity in Massachusetts
The Commonwealth's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) established an Environmental Justice Policy to help address the disproportionate share of environmental burdens experienced by lower-income people and communities of color who, at the same time, often lack environmental assets in their neighborhoods. The policy is designed to help ensure their protection from environmental pollution as well as promote community involvement in planning and environmental decision-making to maintain and/or enhance the environmental quality of their neighborhoods.
Through its agencies and programs, EEA works to engage environmental justice populations in environmental decision-making through expanded and inclusive outreach, to minimize health risks through targeted environmental enforcement, and to improve environmental quality in all communities through initiatives that include reduction of pollutants and emissions, remediation and redevelopment of contaminated land, and investment in urban parks and greenspace.
Improving Environmental Quality
There are basically two frameworks of environmental equity: stopping the environmental "bads," such as a disproportionate burden of toxics; and promoting the environmental "goods," such as assuring access to parks, green amenities, and recreational opportunities.
AIR: Reducing Diesel Emissions
The Administration is working to advance biofuels through investment in research and development, tax incentives, and requirements for percentages of bio-diesel in heating oil and diesel fuel. Additionally, in June 2008, the Governor launched MassCleanDiesel: Clean Air for Kids, a new clean air initiative that will install pollution controls on diesel-powered school buses serving public schools across the state. EEA and MassDEP are also developing a statewide diesel strategy to reduce emissions and improve air quality throughout the Commonwealth.
ENERGY: Clean Energy Technology and Efficiency
EEA, through policy initiatives, investment, and its Leading by Example Program is advancing clean and renewable energy projects at state facilities and throughout the Commonwealth including wind, solar, bio-diesel, and biomass. These clean energy initiatives are helping to decrease our demand on fossil-fuels as well as reducing pollutants that harm public health, degrade environmental quality, and contribute to global warming.
LAND: Brownfields Revitalization
EEA and its agencies, in collaboration with various public and private partners, are working to return contaminated sites to clean and productive use through investment and smart growth technical assistance. Throughout Massachusetts, once blighted brownfield sites are being developed for businesses, housing, and parks, resulting in revitalized urban communities and improved environmental health.
GREENSPACE: Greening the Urban Environment
Increasing environmental assets in EJ communities is central toward improving public health and achieving environmental equity. EEA works to advance urban land conservation, which is a key component in the creation of new parks, trails, urban wilds, and gardens. Additionally, in partnership with DCR, EEA seeks to expand tree canopies in urban areas, particularly in EJ neighborhoods.
Information and Resources
- Environmental Justice Maps
- EJ Viewer - Interactive Locater Online Mapping (MassGIS)
- Cities and Towns in Massachusetts with an EJ Population
- Environmental Justice Module (MA Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit)
- Brownfields Module (MA Smart Growth/Smart Energy Toolkit)
- Brownfields Program (MassDEP)
- Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)
- Region 1 EJ Program (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- EnviroMapper (US EPA)
- PARC Grant (formerly Urban Self-Help)
- Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grants (DCR)
- Brownfields Site Assessment and Cleanup Funding Resources (MassDEP)
Michelle A. Reid
Director of Environmental Justice, EEA
This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of Policy.