The order, signed by Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday November 25th, directs state agencies to devote resources to protect the health, safety, and environment of the state’s most vulnerable residents. It also encourages public participation in governmental decisions. This Factsheet provides a summary of the order, as well as the Massachusetts Environmental Justice Alliance and its efforts leading up to the signing. It also lists the agencies affected by the order.
Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
The Massachusetts EJ Alliance is convened by Alternatives for Community and Environment, ACE. The campaign began in 2009 and will be finally implemented by May 24, 2015. ACE’s senior attorney, Staci Rubin states that “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 order creates a public participation plan including a multilingual outreach program and accessible, convenient public meetings. It will also set up an advisory council with community stakeholders.
This is a big step forward for Massachusetts, joining 7 other states that have previously passed executive orders on environmental justice. As Governor Patrick declared, “Today we reaffirm our commitment to providing the whole Commonwealth with better quality of life through parks, open space and sound environmental policy.”