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.

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