On Tuesday, November 25, Governor Deval Patrick signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice that provides tools and resources to remedy disproportional environmental burdens on low-income communities, communities of color, and linguistic minority communities.
We congratulate the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance and Alternatives for Community & Environment (ACE) for their years of advocacy that led to this victory. According to ACE, environmental justice (EJ) populations reside in 137 of the Commonwealth’s 351 municipalities, including most of the densest cities and 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. The executive order requires that state agencies focus enforcement and funding efforts for environmental benefits in environmental justice communities.
Patrick’s initiative will do the following:
- Establish a governor’s advisory council with community stakeholders
- Require the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to update its 2002 Environmental Justice Policy
- Require each state agency to appoint an environmental justice coordinator to determine strategies to combat environmental justice issues
- Require the director of Environmental Justice to periodically convene the environmental justice coordinators to meet as the Interagency Environmental Justice Coordinating Group
MPHA applaud’s the governor for his continued commitment to the development and maintenance of green open spaces that improve the quality of life for urban residents and increase the overall well-being of communities. We are hopeful that this executive order will provide a framework for the new administration to continue to allow Massachusetts to be a leader for environmental justice.