Our Work in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is a state of extraordinary range, from the ridge lines of the Berkshires and the restored hardwood forests of the Pioneer Valley to the engineering marvels of downtown Boston and thickly settled neighborhoods of the commonwealth’s gateway cities, to the biological diversity of our remaining coldwater trout streams and the underexplored marine depths of the Gulf of Maine.
All these environments share one thing in common: they face unprecedented environmental and public health threats. Eastern and southeastern Massachusetts are the most densely populated areas in New England, putting stress on natural systems. Climate change is already altering our growing seasons and portends greater changes to our ecosystems. Sea level rise will inundate our coastline, both its natural salt marshes and our great coastal cities and towns. Ocean acidification may prevent shellfish – which have fed humans in Massachusetts for centuries – from forming their shells. Groundwater on Cape Cod is so laden with nutrients from human sewage that it violates water quality criteria when it seeps into the Cape’s coastal bays and waters. People continue to drive more even as we know that auto emissions are harming our children and warming our planet.
But CLF has a long history of confronting big challenges and getting results that make Massachusetts a better place to live, work and play.
Boston Harbor was once the “dirtiest harbor in America,” with a crumbling water and sewer system and failing sewer agency. We sued the EPA to force a cleanup, calling it a national scandal. Now, after decades of hard work and the development of a state-of-the-art treatment plant, harbor porpoises chase prey off the parks in East Boston and residents and tourists alike enjoy all the harbor has to offer. CLF continues to be on the forefront of clean water advocacy in Massachusetts, holding polluters accountable for improving water quality, pushing for precedent-setting changes to water policy, and helping communities stand up for their right to this most basic element of health and well-being.
To keep our air clean, CLF joined forces with community groups to fend off a proposed oil-fired power plant that threatened vulnerable communities in Chelsea. We also cracked down on the commonwealth’s “Filthy Five” power plants by forcing the adoption of nation-leading limits on smokestack pollution. Building on these successes, CLF’s Coal-Free New England campaign is forcing closures of polluting dinosaurs like the Salem Harbor and Somerset Station power plants. To replace coal, CLF is leading the charge to develop responsible wind and solar power projects and require utilities to prioritize energy efficiency to save money and create jobs while reducing environmental impacts.
Automobile exhaust also causes air pollution and health problems and is our region’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. During the Big Dig, CLF forced the commonwealth to expand and modernize its public transportation system, with cleaner buses and new commuter rail and subways. Today we continue to ensure these clean transportation commitments are fully met while we lay groundwork for expanding regional rail, requiring cleaner cars, and making necessary investments to clean our air. And CLF even developed green car insurance that rewards Massachusetts residents who drive less.
In Massachusetts, our oceans and coasts are a fundamental part of our economy and culture. CLF long has focused on three areas to restore health to our oceans: pollution, overfishing, and protection of marine biological diversity. We won a landmark lawsuit in 1991 that moved us toward better management of the groundfish fishery and has spurred more responsible regulations and practices to ensure that fish and fishermen continue to thrive. CLF also continues the successful fight against oil and gas development off our coast — as we have since 1978 — because the risks to our living oceans are just too high.
CLF was founded in Massachusetts in 1966 and grew from the kitchen table of Ben Nason. Along the way, we have not hesitated to use the legal system to ensure that Massachusetts is meeting its responsibilities to its people. But we also have learned that durable solutions require strong, strategic relationships with other environmental groups, community organizations, and business leaders. Together with our partners and our supporters, CLF continues to protect our Massachusetts.
62 Summer Street
Boston, MA 02110-1016
VP and Director