November 13, 2020 (BOSTON, MA) – Massachusetts energy officials announced today that they are planning to hear public comments and issue a decision to approve construction of a controversial East Boston electrical substation next month. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), GreenRoots, and Lawyers for Civil Rights previously filed a federal complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with multiple federal agencies after officials failed to make meetings accessible to all residents. The groups issued the following statements in response to today’s news.
“This project would have disastrous impacts on the health and safety of East Boston and Chelsea residents, who are already living the epicenter of the COVID pandemic,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, Executive Director of GreenRoots. “The fact is that that this substation is simply no longer needed. Attempting to push through the approval process amid a pandemic when our communities have been slammed by COVID and are now simply trying to stay healthy and stably housed is shameful, disrespectful and an outright insult to the people who shoulder the burden for our entire region.”
“Three years ago this month, state energy officials totally disregarded—as ‘disruptive’—the attempts of Spanish-speaking residents to participate in a critical decision that will affect their community for decades,” said Amy Laura Cahn, Senior Attorney and Interim Director for Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice at Conservation Law Foundation, “Since that time, the EFSB has consistently failed to live up to its language access obligations under federal law. In yet another insult to this community, residents with limited access to technology will be further marginalized by a remote hearing.”
“We are shocked that the EFSB can consider moving forward with this process while multiple federal agencies are still evaluating the lawfulness of its conduct,” said Lauren Sampson, staff attorney at Lawyers for Civil Rights. “The EFSB should postpone any future proceedings on this project pending resolution of the serious civil rights charges leveled against it.”
Civil rights complaints against the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Department of Public Utilities, and Energy Facilities Siting Board are still pending with Departments of Interior and Transportation and a civil rights compliance review of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs by US EPA has barely begun.
Experts are available for further comment.