November 29, 2022 (BOSTON, MA) – The Massachusetts Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) has officially approved plans that allow a proposed electrical substation in East Boston to bypass critical environmental permits. The board obliviated public processes, and the project will proceed with construction following hours of community testimony in opposition. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and GreenRoots released the following statements in response.
“The fact is that the community overwhelmingly opposes the construction of this substation, and state laws regarding the siting of this facility have been ignored,” said Staci Rubin, Vice President of Environmental Justice at CLF. “The Siting Board’s decision contributes to the inequitable distribution of environmental burdens and benefits and disregards East Boston residents’ voices. We’ll continue to partner with the community to challenge this facility.”
“While disappointing it is not surprising,” said John Walkey, Director of Waterfront and Climate Justice Initiatives for GreenRoots and an East Boston resident. “After 8 years of this process, it is clear that the priorities that guide the decision-making of the EFSB are incompatible with the environmental justice principles codified by the Commonwealth in the Roadmap Law. Siting Board Chair Card has an obligation to protect the health and well-being of the environment and environmental justice populations. Yet again, we see a Secretary that prioritizes industry over people and the environment”
CLF and GreenRoots have joined community groups in opposing this substation for years, but the state has allowed Eversource to bypass community input and critical environmental reviews. CLF and GreenRoots testified and pushed for a delay in the vote that took place today since the majority of the siting board members will be changing with the new administration in January and relevant regulations and policies will be changed in the coming months.
Only one board member had the fortitude to question the benefits and burdens of the facility, citing significant concerns for the adjacent environmental justice population. Board Member Johnson called on fellow members to move forward on three amendments that would look at cumulative impacts on environmental justice populations, the need for the site, and alternative locations including siting the substation on Massport land. The motions all failed with no board members willing to second the motion. Board Member Johnson was the one dissenting member of the siting board on the decision.
Experts are available for further comment.