Pollution Inequality Is Racism

Enforce the Roadmap, say authors of op ed, in Commonwealth Magazine

MASSACHUSETTS IS HOME to some of the greatest inequalities in pollution in the nation.

“According to Northeastern Professor Daniel Faber, Boston ranks fourth for disparities in air pollution and Massachusetts ranks in the top three states in the country for locating hazardous waste facilities next to the elderly and people living in poverty. Moreover, he notes that “despite the fact that communities of color comprise only 9 percent of communities in this state, they receive over 40 percent of our carcinogens.”

So begins an op ed from Dr. Brita Lundberg, chair of the board at Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Dr. Adrienne Allen, medical director of quality, safety and sustainability for the North Shore Physicians Group and a member of Climate Code Blue.

The authors identify three projects–the Peabody Peaker plant, the Weymouth Compressor, and the East Boston electrical substation — approved under the Baker administration without attention to environmental justice (EJ), a requirement of state legislation known as the climate roadmap bill. The authors write,

“The details vary, but the flawed state approval process and environmental justice issues for all three were discouragingly similar: all failed to demonstrate need, failed to benefit the local community, failed to address environmental justice concerns, and failed to consider an alternative location.”

Nor did these projects take into account “cumulative impacts,” the new standard set in the roadmap. All of the communities where these projects are sited are already overburdened by pollution.

Though these projects may have started their approval process prior to the passage of the current law, that is no reason to continue with their construction. As the authors point out, the choice to put these projects in EJ communities is racist. In the case of both the Peabody Peaker and the East Boston substation, the projects are in the early stages and could be halted, at least to conduct another review. It’s up to the Healey administration now.

Read the full article in Commonwealth Magazine.