Executive Order on Environmental Justice

November 25, 2014
Executive Order on Environmental Justice signed!

Governor Patrick signs an Executive Order on Environmental Justice
Our Executive Order on EJ Factsheet

For five years, our Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance has organized to pass an Executive Order on Environmental Justice [PDF] in the state.

On November 25, 2014, Governor Deval Patrick signed it into law.

Thank you members, supporters and allies for your support of this work. We are excited to share this monumental victory with you!

See our factsheet [pdf] for more information on how this Executive Order will make all of our lives greener, healthier and safer.

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Our statement:

November 25, 2014

Today, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law an Executive Order on Environmental Justice that directs all state agencies to devote resources to protect the health, safety and environment for the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth.

He was joined by our Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance (MA EJ Alliance), comprised of environmental and social justice organizing and grassroots groups from across the state.

"Today we reaffirm our commitment to providing the whole Commonwealth with better quality of life through parks, open space and sound environmental policy," said Governor Deval Patrick. "This Order will ensure these principles are integrated into decision-making across state government."

Massachusetts became the eighth state in the country to pass an Executive Order on Environmental Justice. Environmental justice populations reside in 137 of the Commonwealth's 351 municipalities, including most of the densest cities in towns like Boston, Chelsea, Springfield and Worcester. Residents in these communities, who are mostly low-income and people of color, live with substantially greater risk of exposure to environmental health hazards than the general population.

"A strong environmental justice law will give those of us most affected by pollution a fighting chance in Springfield," said Michaelann Bewsee of Arise for Social Justice.

The Executive Order is a milestone in the statewide environmental justice movement that is good for our health, our neighborhoods and jobs. It focuses resources on low-income communities and communities of color, and benefits extend to the entire Commonwealth. This Executive Order requires all stakeholders to be creative around our region's future energy needs, zero waste implementation, and green space and job creation.

Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney at ACE, speaks on the Executive Order"Environmental justice in many states is focused on improving the process or ability of residents and workers to participate in decision-making without guaranteeing that such input will result in practical changes on the ground," said Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney at ACE. "This Executive Order is unique in that it requires the state to focus enforcement and funding efforts for environmental benefits in environmental justice communities."

The campaign for an Executive Order started five years ago when ACE and our partners saw the need for the government to increase its resources to ensure that people can live, learn, work and play in environmentally safe communities.

"Prior to this order, many siting decisions, patterns of state regulatory enforcement, and funding for improvements were made without government employees recognizing environmental justice issues. We will now have more opportunities to learn about industrial and commercial projects before they enter our neighborhoods and to have a say in the kinds of health and environmental outcomes that we want to see for our families and towns," added Roseann Bongiovanni, Associate Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative.

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 and burdens.

For New Bedford residents, the Executive Order will "put pressure on local elected officials to become serious about EJ and come up with their own working agenda to make sure that environmental justice is a part of the City's everyday structure," said Eddie Johnson, President of Citizens Leading Environmental Action Network (CLEAN). CLEAN is working to remediate the Parker Street Waste Site, a former dump with lingering contamination that is home to many residents, playing fields and schools. According to Johnson, "We at CLEAN are elated" about Governor Patrick's decision to sign the state law.

The Executive Order will require all state agencies to have an EJ strategy by May 24, 2015. Each strategy must:

(1) Identify all regulatory authority over industrial operations and commercial facilities and describe how EJ populations are protected;

(2) Identify funding programs that should consider EJ populations in the award process; and

(3) Create a public participation plan that focuses agency resources on outreach activities, including communicating in multiple languages and scheduling public meetings at locations and times convenient for neighborhood stakeholders.

The Order requires all state agencies to designate an EJ Coordinator to carry out each agency's EJ strategy and participate in the interagency workgroup on EJ. It establishes an advisory council with community stakeholders to oversee implementation of the EJ Executive Order, as well as an online environmental justice repository to make it easier for people to learn about the state's environmental justice resources and for developers to visit a central location to learn more.

"ACE played a key role in bringing together neighborhood groups and community-based organizations to organize for the Executive Order, including convening many dialogues on the issue with the MA EJ Alliance," said Kalila Barnett, ACE Executive Director. "We appreciate ACE members for taking the lead to fight for this EJ law."

Thank you members, supporters and allies for your support in accomplishing this tremendous victory!

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State press release:
‘Historic act’ on environmental justice
December 22, 2014

BOSTON — Monday, December 22, 2014 — Last month Mass­a­chu­setts Gov. Deval Patrick signed an exec­u­tive order pro­moting envi­ron­mental jus­tice across the state. The mea­sure is a “his­toric act,” says North­eastern soci­ology pro­fessor Daniel Faber, whose research over the past decade helped jump­start the dia­logue around this issue early on at the state level.

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The exec­u­tive order, which Faber assisted in drafting as part of the Mass­a­chu­setts Envi­ron­mental Jus­tice Alliance, estab­lishes an advi­sory council com­prised of com­mu­nity stake­holders and requires state agen­cies to take action on envi­ron­mental jus­tice. These actions include devel­oping strate­gies on how these com­mu­ni­ties can be pro­tected through state reg­u­la­tory authority over indus­trial and com­mer­cial projects. Read more...

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Governor Patrick signs order on environmental justice
December 3, 2014

BOSTON — Wednesday, December 3, 2014 — “At ACE, we have a radical idea that everyone has the right to a healthy and safe environment, and that they should be decision-makers in issues that impact their communities,” said ACE Executive Director Kalila Barnett in her turn at the podium. “We believe in the intelligence and analysis of those directly affected by environmental injustice to come up with solutions to create a better future for all of us.” Read more...

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Environmental Justice
December 1, 2014

CHELSEA — Monday, December 1, 2014 — The Executive Order requires the following actions: The establishment of a Governor’s Advisory Council to advise the Governor and Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary on Environmental Justice Issues; to update its 2002 Environmental Justice Policy within 60 days; to appoint a Secretariat Environmental Justice Coordinator within 30 days for each cabinet position; to post Environmental Justice strategies online within 180 days for each cabinet position. Read more...

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Patrick requires ‘environmental justice’ regulation across state government
Saturday, November 29, 2014

BOSTON — November 29, 2014 — Lawyers upset with a recent Supreme Judicial Court decision that strengthened the state’s Environmental Justice Policy definitely aren't pleased with Gov. Deval L. Patrick.

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Staci Rubin, senior attorney at Alternatives for Community & Environment in Roxbury, said she expects the executive order will lead to an overhaul of the original Environmental Justice Policy, which — as City of Brockton drove home — was inconsistently followed and enforced. Read more...

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Patrick orders agencies to focus on environmental justice
November 26, 2014

CHELSEA — Wednesday, November 26, 2014 – Agencies throughout state government will focus on environmental justice under a late-term executive order signed by Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday.

Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Maeve Vallely Bartlett said the order would create an advisory council and require agencies to prioritize environmental justice. Read more...

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Gov. Patrick signs order to preserve urban green space
November 26, 2014

BOSTON — Wednesday, November 26, 2014 — With less than seven weeks left in office, Gov. Deval Patrick has signed an executive order that he says will help develop parks and open spaces in urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts where green areas have typically been in short supply. Read more...

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Governor Patrick promotes environmental justice across the Commonwealth
November 25, 2014

CHELSEA – Tuesday, November 25, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today signed an Executive Order requiring Secretariats to take action in promoting environmental justice.

“Today we reaffirm our commitment to providing the whole Commonwealth with better quality of life through parks, open space and sound environmental policy,” said Governor Patrick. “This Order will ensure these principles are integrated into decision making across state government.”Read more...

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Patrick signs executive order to promote urban green space
November 25, 2014, Lowell Sun

BOSTON (AP) -- With less than seven weeks left in office, Gov. Deval Patrick has signed an executive order he says will promote parks and open spaces in urban neighborhoods where green areas are traditionally in short supply. Read more...

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Gov. Patrick Pushing for More Urban Open Spaces
November 25, 2014, WGGB

BOSTON (AP) — With less than seven weeks left in office, Gov. Deval Patrick has signed an executive order he says will promote parks and open spaces in urban neighborhoods where green areas are traditionally in short supply.

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Patrick said the order is part of his administration’s ongoing commitment to environmental justice in urban neighborhoods and older, financially strapped municipalities known as Gateway Cities. Read more...

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Congratulations MA EJ Alliance & ACE on the historic signing of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice!
November 25, 2014

BOSTON — Tuesday, November 25, 2014 — On November 25, 2014, Governor Patrick signed the Massachusetts Executive Order on Environmental Justice (EO) at the Chelsea Collaborative. The Governor’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice illustrates an important milestone in the EJ movement, made possible by the tireless work of grassroots organizations and allies in the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance (MA EJ Alliance), and convened by Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE), a BU SRP Community Engagement Core partner. Read more...