Thank you to all who signed the petition to improve our environmental justice crisis in Massachusetts. State programs, like Mass Save, are designed to work with residents and businesses to improve their energy efficiency, ultimately cutting energy expenses and limiting carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. These programs however have failed to service many of the people most in need.
Individuals, community partners, and allies signed this petition to urge current Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and Environmental Secretary Katie Theohorides to reject any plan that doesn’t center the needs of environmental justice and low-income communities, and increase access and remove barriers for underserved and language isolated communities across the state.
While the recent passage of the Department of Utilities’ three-year energy efficiency plan provides our environmental justice communities hope around the ongoing focus on renters and justice-centered workforce development, it is disappointing that the explicit list of target communities to be prioritized for energy efficiency upgrades was rejected, thereby excluding the greater focus around low-income renters throughout the Commonwealth. It is incredibly frustrating that this significant block of low- and moderate-income residents in environmental justice communities will no longer be the explicit focus of outreach, engagement and participation for the program administrators. Instead of their efforts being the basis of significant incentives, the effort is much more vague and less detailed.
The rejection of our recommendations to track demographic data based on age, race, ethnicity, disability, income, and primary language by the Department of Public Utilities is disheartening. We must continue to push toward expanded access to energy efficiency programs and hold our public officials accountable in protecting all, not just a selected few, residents who struggle with skyrocketing gas and heating oil prices in our city.
The Green Justice Coalition is convened by Community Labor United.