Late on Wednesday night residents of Springfield celebrated an important victory in their longstanding fight against a biomass-burning plant that Palmer Renewable Energy (PRE) proposes to construct in their community. Acting on the petition of local residents Michaelann Bewsee and Toni and William Keefe, the Springfield Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) overturned the two building permits that were issued to PRE last November. Media coverage of the ZBA decision is available here and here.
The ZBA declared the building permits unlawful because, in an attempt to avoid City Council review of the project, PRE had not obtained a special permit that is required for the proposed plant. Responding to convincing presentations from Ms. Bewsee and Attorney Pat Markey, the Zoning Board of Appeals determined that because the facility will engage in incineration, the Springfield Zoning Ordinance requires a special permit from the City Council before building permits can issue. CLF has worked closely with Ms. Bewsee, her organization, Arise for Social Justice, Toxics Action Center and the community group Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, to protest this proposed power plant, which would bring additional harmful air pollution to Springfield. Siting this project in this location would be particularly inequitable, as Springfield is already a grossly overburdened environmental justice community that suffers disproportionately from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases because of exposure to air pollution.
CLF warmly congratulates the community on this victory, and thanks the Springfield City Council for the important role it played in upholding the integrity of their Zoning Ordinance.