The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice filed a motion with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection requesting permission to participate in Matter of Brockton Power Co., a case concerning a proposed new power plant in Brockton.
In light of the disproportionate placement of environmental hazards in low-income and minority communities, the Lawyers’ Committee has long viewed environmental justice to be a critical part of the civil rights movement. We have, therefore, advocated for a strong interpretation of environmental justice protections, including in proceedings related to the Brockton matter. See City of Brockton v. Energy Facilities Siting Board, 469 Mass. 196 (2014) (participating as amicus).
In the recently filed motion, the Lawyers’ Committee cites a wealth of evidence demonstrating that the most toxic facilities tend to be located in low-income and minority communities. Blacks — regardless of income — face the highest risk of exposure to environmental harms. Blacks are 79% more likely than Whites to live in neighborhoods with industrial pollution. Black households with incomes between $50,000 and $60,000 live in neighborhoods that are, on average, more polluted than the average neighborhood in which White households with incomes below $10,000 live.
Brockton, in particular, ranks as one of the top 10 most environmentally overburdened communities in Massachusetts. Since Brockton is a lower income (17.9% below the poverty line) and minority community (31.2% Black; 10% Latino; and 2.3% Asian), the placement of an additional environmentally hazardous site would unduly affect an already disadvantaged and vulnerable population.