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  • Writer's pictureClaire Miller

The House "Mash-up" Bill on Siting/Permitting

Updated: Apr 25

If you haven’t heard, how we site and permit energy and energy infrastructure has become a major topic for this legislative session and will undoubtedly be part of what becomes law this summer. BUT, how just and equitable it will be is very unclear.


Mass Power Forward has been supporting the MA Environmental Justice Table bill S.2113 / H.3187 An Act Relative to Energy Facilities Siting Reform to Address Environmental Justice, Climate, and Public Health (DiDomenico/ Madaro) Fact Sheet. This bill was born out of years of unjust, oppressive experiences with the Energy Facilities Siting Board.


The House Chair of the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (Rep. Roy) had introduced a bill on this topic, written with National Grid- which concerned us (see the previous blog post for our thoughts on that). Throughout the first year of the session he said publicly often that he wanted to work with all on editing it. 


In February, Chair Roy moved several pieces of legislation, including a mash-up bill on siting/permitting that included pieces of his bill and pieces of the EJ Table Bill. We’re glad some pieces from the EJ table bill made it in. In particular, we’re very happy about all the language around the cumulative impact assessment (CIA) and the tying of approvals to the assessment. The only flag is that the CIA got edited with language that needs to be removed (see below in red).



Our Bill with EJ Table

Mash-Up Bill

Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA)

A cumulative impact assessment that considers an exposure, public health or environmental risk, or other effect occurring in a specific geographical area, including from any environmental pollution emitted or released routinely, accidentally, or otherwise, from any source, and assessed based on the combined past, present, and reasonably foreseeable emissions and discharges affecting the geographical area.



Include the CIA definition, but added extraneous language.


a written report that assesses whether the proposed facility is necessary to meet local energy use needs and that such need cannot be accomplished through less harmful means and considers the potential for harmful exposure, public health or environmental risk, or other effect occurring in a specific geographical area, including from any environmental pollution emitted or released routinely, accidentally, or otherwise, from any source, and assessed based on the combined past, present, and reasonably foreseeable emissions and discharges affecting the geographical area.

Tieing Approval to the CIA

If an environmental impact report and cumulative impact assessment are required, the office shall only issue permits for projects where the environmental impact report demonstrates a finding of environmental and energy benefits to the impacted environmental justice populations without significant environmental or energy burdens and the cumulative impact assessment demonstrates that there is no adverse public health, environmental, or climate impact to the impacted communities.



SAME AS OUR BILL!


If an environmental impact report and cumulative impact assessment are required, the office shall only issue permits for projects where the environmental impact report demonstrates a finding of environmental and energy benefits to the impacted environmental justice populations without significant environmental or energy burdens and the cumulative impact assessment demonstrates that there is no adverse public health, environmental, or climate impact to the impacted communities.



PLAIN ENGLISH EXPLANATIONS

  1. Cumulative Impact Assessment: looks at what is the pollution/burden already in a neighborhood as you’re considering adding more.

  2. Tying approvals to the CIA: You can’t get approved to site/permit a new energy facility in an environmental justice population unless it's good for that area and doesn’t make things worse! This is what it looks like to tie siting/permitting approval to justice. 


In Summary- we still need to push for the EJ table version, please sign this petition and spread it wide!

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