Massachusetts toughens rules on air pollution sources in communities of color

The Boston Globe:

Massachusetts toughens rules on air pollution sources in communities of color

Erin Douglas

March 28, 2024Health experts, community leaders, and climate justice and transit advocates held a rally outside near Nubian Square in May 2023 to call on legislators to improve indoor and outdoor air quality.Power plants, manufacturers, asphalt batch plants, and other industrial operators hoping to expand in Massachusetts will soon have to determine whether the resulting air pollution would disproportionately harm communities of color or low-income areas.

That’s because Massachusetts is attempting to regulate what is called the “cumulative impact” of pollution — among the first states in the nation to do so.

Typically, environmental regulators treat each plant as its own island when permitting new sources of pollution, ignoring how many polluting facilities already exist in an area. New permits, then, can further concentrate air pollution in already polluted neighborhoods. But under the revised air quality rules finalized Thursday by Governor Maura Healey’s administration, how much air pollution a community is already burdened with will be a factor in the permitting process.

Read full article at bostonglobe.com

 

EPA ‘Justice40’ grants target grassroots efforts: $50m will go to groups in New England

The Bay State Banner:

EPA ‘Justice40’ grants target grassroots efforts

$50m will go to groups in New England

Avery Bleichfeld

January 17, 2024

EPA ‘Justice40’ grants target grassroots efforts

Three local New England nonprofits are teaming up to distribute federal funds in a streamlined process to meet the needs of grassroots community-based organizations focused on environmental justice and climate issues.

The initiative, which will provide a total of $50 million to groups across the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 1 in New England, is intended to bring new funding sources to smaller groups to generate community-based solutions and reduce barriers around access to federal funds.

Read full article at baystatebanner.com

BERDO: Join the community conversation about emissions from buildings

flyer for BERDO community conversation

Join ACE to learn about Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) — learn what BERDO is, how it works, and the changes that may occur as a result. Share your priorities and concerns so the City can understand how BERDO might impact you and your family. Your input is essential!

You will receive a gift card for participating and food will be provided.

Time: September 27, 2023 from 5pm-7pm

Location: 122 Dewitt Dr, Boston, MA 02120

Contact for more information:
Emmanuell De Barros, ACE’s Director of Development and Community Engagement (emmanuell@ ace-ej.org)
Hakim Sutherland, ACE’s Director of Youth Advocacy (hakim@ ace-ej.org)

Was 2022 good for the climate fight? Five Massachusetts climate leaders weigh in.

Did you see the Boston Globe on Tuesday, 12/27? ACE’s Executive Director made it onto the front page, and was one of five key voices on climate change in the state.

Read the full article at the Globe’s website.

You can also read a PDF format of the article by clicking below.

Was 2022 good for the climate fight Five Massachusetts climate leaders weigh in. – The Boston Globe

Dwaign Tyndal Headshot

Dwaign TyndalExecutive Director

Keep justice front-and-center as Boston’s buildings go green

This op-ed was printed in the Bay State Banner on October 19, 2022. Click to read it on their site.

In Boston, the biggest 3,500 buildings account for the majority of carbon pollution — burning gas or oil for heating, using electricity for air conditioning and lighting. Last year, the city council and mayor passed a visionary new law to aggressively reduce this pollution, called BERDO 2.0 (Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance).

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Mayor’s Office make sweeping promises — but too often under past mayors, the city has failed to enforce these laws, and nothing changes. The key to actually following through with BERDO’s promises is to keep residents and stakeholder neighborhoods in the driver’s seat.

Our organization, ACE, pushed hard for community representation on the BERDO Review Board. Two-thirds of the members are nominated by community groups. This is crucial to ensure that the law’s enforcement doesn’t get watered down by developers.

But right now, we’re seeing the city move away from resident and community input. I was alarmed to learn that the city dismissed One Square World, the nonprofit that facilitated community input on BERDO. The regulation process has been frustrating for community groups since then. And we’ve seen developers pushing to get their own lobbying group listed as a “community-based organization” that would displace real resident input.

BERDO holds a lot of promise. This year, building managers have to begin monitoring and reporting on their carbon pollution. And in 2025, they must begin reducing that pollution. If this goes as planned, it is a big win for the communities in Boston who bear the brunt of heat waves, extreme weather and air pollution: largely Black, Brown, immigrant, and low-income folks.

But if it’s watered down, corporate property owners could simply purchase bogus “offsets” or “credits” rather than reducing their buildings’ pollution. If that comes to pass, BERDO will be actively worsening the impacts of climate change on our city’s vulnerable and disenfranchised residents.

The future here remains to be written. Will City Hall buckle under pressure from developers or push forward with true community and resident involvement? Only Mayor Wu can answer that question.

Dwaign Tyndal Headshot

Dwaign TyndalExecutive Director

Boston City Council’s Big Step for Justice: BERDO 2.0

This week, the Boston City Council unanimously passed a new ordinance that we’ve been fighting hard for: the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance, or BERDO 2.0. It targets Boston’s biggest buildings — a few thousand buildings that account for 60% of carbon pollution — and sets aggressive standards for reduction.

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