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Cumulative Impact Analysis in Air Quality Permitting

Learn about and participate in the MassDEP initiative to incorporate cumulative impact analysis into the agency's review of applications for certain air permits and approvals.

Table of Contents

What You Need to Know

Cumulative impacts are the total effect of past, present, and future actions on the environment and human health. Evaluating these effects is the focus of cumulative impact analysis (CIA).

Governor Baker in March 2021 signed Chapter 8 of the Acts of 2021, An Act Creating a Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy. The Act directed the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to:

  • Evaluate and seek public comment on incorporating CIA into its review of applications for certain categories of air permits and approvals;
  • Propose regulations for accomplishing this; and
  • Complete these tasks within 18 months of the signed legislation's June 2021 effective date (or by late December 2022).

The Act also gave the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Office six months (or by late December 2021) to develop new regulations that would require:

  • Submission of an environmental impact report (EIR) for any project that is likely to cause damage to the environment and is located near an environmental justice (EJ) population;
  • Assessment of potential existing unfair or inequitable burden and related public health consequences; and
  • Analysis of how the proposed project might result in a disproportionate adverse effect on the EJ population.   

See Additional Resources below to learn more about environmental justice communities and populations in Massachusetts. 

Additional Resources

How You Can Participate

MassDEP is conducting a robust stakeholder engagement process on incorporating cumulative impact analysis (CIA) in its review of applications for certain categories of air permits and approvals. 

The next meetings, to be held virtually, are scheduled for Tuesday, October 26, and Wednesday, October 27. See the table below for times and links where you can pre-register to participate. If you need language translation for either meeting, please contact Deneen Simpson by Friday, October 22.

Here is the complete virtual stakeholder meeting schedule*: 

Meeting  Dates & Times Topics
1 August 31, 2021 (2)

Completed

  • Overview of Climate Law CIA/ MEPA Provisions
  • Agency Roles
  • Stakeholder Engagement Process & Schedule
  • MEPA Rulemaking Presentation & Discussion
2 September 28 & 29, 2021

Completed

  • Background on CIA (Types, Approaches & Terminology)
  • Risk vs. Impact
  • Mapping Tools
  • Data Sources
3

October 26, 2021, 1:00pm
Pre-Register to Participate

October 27, 2021, 6:00pm
Pre-Register to Participate

  • MassDEP Air Permit Program (Types, Requirements, Standards)
  • MEPA Interim Approach to Assessing EJ Impacts

Download the presentation.

4

November 16, 2021, 1:00pm

November 17, 2021, 6:00pm

  • Environmental & Public Health Stressors/ Population Attributes
  • Data Availability & Quality
  • Stressors to Include in CIA
5

December 14, 2021, 1:00pm

December 15, 2021, 6:00pm

  • CIA Framework
  • Public Engagement in CIA
6

January 25, 2022, 1:00pm

January 26, 2022, 6:00pm

  • CIA Conceptual Model
  • Public Involvement in CIA
7

February 15, 2022, 1:00pm

February 16, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

  • CIA Analysis Protocol
  • Air Permit Decision-Making Criteria
8

March 22, 2022, 1:00pm

March 23, 2022, 6:00pm

  • Outline of Draft Regulations
  • Discussion of Issues

9

April 26, 2022, 1:00pm

April 27, 2022, 6:00pm

  • 1st Draft of Regulations
  • Discussion of Issues

 

*Please note that all sessions will be recorded and made available on the MassDEP YouTube Channel. Follow the link in Additional Resources below to an archive of these video playbacks and other meeting materials.

Additional Resources

MassDEP's Regulatory Development Process

The Department of Environmental Protection has set the following tentative schedule for developing regulations to incorporate Cumulative Impact Analysis into its review of applications for certain air permits and approvals.

July–September 2022 Develop Draft Regulation
October 2022 Propose Draft Regulation for Public Comment
November-December 2022 Hold Public Hearings & Comment Period
January–March 2023 Develop Final Regulation & Guidance
April 2023 Promulgate Final Regulation & Issue Guidance

 

How to Stay Informed

Join the MassDEP email list to receive periodic updates on:

  • The cumulative impact analysis (CIA) regulatory development process;
  • Future stakeholder meetings; and
  • Opportunities for providing input to the agency.

Sign up by following the link in Additional Resources below.

Additional Resources

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