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Massachusetts Governor Issues Executive Order on Environmental Justice

Executive Order requires each Secretariat to address environmental justice
Chelsea, Mass.– Nov. 25, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today signed an Executive Order requiring Secretariats to take action in promoting environmental justice.
“Today we reaffirm our commitment to providing the whole Commonwealth with better quality of life through parks, open space and sound environmental policy,” said Governor Patrick. “This Order will ensure these principles are integrated into decision making across state government.”
The Patrick Administration has made it a priority to direct robust park and open space investments toward environmental justice neighborhoods and to promote programs and policies that increase park equity.
“Governor Patrick’s dedication to ensuring open space in urban areas is unprecedented,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “At EEA, we have worked to implement that vision with targeted investments in Gateway Cities and urban neighborhoods across Massachusetts.”
The Executive Order requires the following actions:
** The establishment of a Governor’s Advisory Council to advise the Governor and Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary on Environmental Justice Issues.
** EEA is required to update its 2002 Environmental Justice Policy within 60 days
** Each Secretariat is required to appoint a Secretariat Environmental Justice Coordinator within 30 days. The Coordinator shall review Secretariat programs to determine which programs implicate Environmental Justice issues.
** Secretariats are required to post their Environmental Justice strategies online within 180 days.
** The Director of Environmental Justice is required to periodically convene the Secretariat Coordinators to meet as the Interagency Environmental Justice Coordinating Group.
EEA Secretary Bartlett appointed a Director of Environmental Justice, Michelle Reid, as part of Governor Patrick’s Women in the Workforce Initiative in September.
“What makes this Executive Order unique is that it focuses on both substantive requirements and procedural ones.  Environmental justice in many states is focused on improving the process or ability of residents and workers to participate in decision-making without guaranteeing that such input will result in practical changes on the ground,” said Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney at ACE.  “This executive order requires the state to focus enforcement and funding efforts for environmental benefits in environmental justice communities.”
“I’d like to thank Governor Patrick for moving forward with updates to our environmental justice policy and for ensuring environmental justice for the residents of Massachusetts,” said Senator Marc R. Pacheco.
“I’m pleased to see that Governor Patrick is once again taking specific action to make environmental justice a reality for those communities that most need it,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico. “The residents of my district, which is very urban, need more access to parks, playgrounds, open space, and other positive environmental benefits, and today is another step in the right direction.”
EEA has helped protect more than 125,000 acres of land and built or renovated more than 200 parks since 2007, including projects in 310 communities and 50 cities. The land conserved and parks created are within a 10 minute walk of 1.5 million residents – about 25 percent of the state’s residents. In the Commonwealth’s 26 Gateway Cities, new conservation land and parks are within a 10 minute walk of more than 500,000 residents – about 33 percent of all Gateway City residents.
“I am very pleased that Governor Patrick has used his executive powers to improve Massachusetts through an investment in urban parks and open spaces with a commitment to a targeted environmental policy,” said Representative Frank  A. Moran.
“The actions taken today by the Governor reinforce the Commonwealth’s promise of environmental equity for every community, and help to ensure that cities and towns can provide all citizens with ample open space to live and thrive,” said Representative Frank Smizik.
“The raw truth of the matter is that we human beings, have been terrible stewards of our unique and spectacular home; pleading ignorance or personal non culpability will not reverse the damage to the earth, clean up a single poisoned river or cure even one case of debilitating disease,” said Representative Chris Walsh. “Changing the sad trajectory of this legacy will only happen when each of us gladly seeks out and accepts the shared responsibility for change. All too often the ability to move away, truck away or pipe away contamination from our daily life has led to a stunning ability to deny the reality of our acquiescence in this vandalism. Many communities and populations however have not had that luxury; communities of uneducated , poor and politically dispossessed peoples have endured living in both obvious and subtle contaminated areas and have the illnesses and poor outcomes to prove it. The Governor’s executive order to integrate the principals of environmental justice throughout the decision making apparatus of state government is the first step in owning up to our shared problems and responsibilities and it is the only path that will lead us to a future that works for any of us.” 
“This Executive Order elevates the profile of environmental justice and increases transparency,” said Representative Jay Livingstone. “As the Commonwealth transitions to a new administration, we will be well-positioned to make progress on environmental justice.  Whether it’s reducing asthma rates or increasing access to open space, our Commonwealth has a number of opportunities to make sure certain communities aren’t disproportionately impacted by environmental harms or left behind when it comes to environmental benefits.”
“We are thrilled that Governor Patrick is signing an Executive Order on Environmental Justice. The Governor’s executive order recognizes that communities like Chelsea, East Boston and Roxbury bear the brunt of impacts for regional benefits; and the order will require far more comprehensive planning and community involvement in affected communities. This Thanksgiving, I am particularly grateful to Governor Patrick, who has long been a friend to Chelsea, for ensuring that our city will be protected for years to come,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, Associate Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative.
The Patrick Administration has invested $10.3 million in capital funding to construct a new playground or spray park, or renovate an existing one, in each of the Commonwealth’s 54 cities. Through the new Our Common Backyards program, each of these cities is receiving up to $200,000 in state funding to support these projects. 
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