MassDEP proposes new air plan approval requirements for facilities located in or near Environmental Justice communities

January 4th, 2023

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a proposed amendment related to the control of air pollution for facilities that are located in or near an Environmental Justice (EJ) community adding a requirement for a cumulative impact analysis (CIA) to be included in any Comprehensive Plan Application (CPA). Published on December 29, 2022 the new requirements that would be added to 310 CMR 7.02(14) Air Pollution Control include more outreach to EJ populations, a more detailed assessment of existing conditions in an EJ community, and cumulative impacts of the proposed project.

MassDEP developed the CIA based on the approaches taken by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and several states including California, Minnesota, and New Jersey, and stakeholder input.

The additional requirements will apply to any new facility within an EJ community and depending on its designation of a non-major or major source, within one or five miles of an EJ community, respectively. Existing facilities that need to submit a new CPA and have an expected increase in emission of one ton or more per year will also need to include a CIA.

air quality


In brief, the CIA will require an evaluation of 33 air quality, environmental, health and socioeconomic indicators, with results presented in data tables and maps comparing the project location to nearby communities. Air dispersion modeling will also be required to show compliance with applicable National Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria air pollutants, and modeling should include mobile sources if the project is associated with increased new vehicle emissions. In addition, an air toxics analysis will be required and MassDEP has provided a risk screening spreadsheet that can be used to conduct this analysis, using conservative inputs. In lieu of using the risk screening spreadsheet, an enhanced air modeling analysis can also be conducted for air toxics using site-specific data. The air toxics analysis should show that risks are below the cancer risk threshold (10 parts per million) and non-cancer threshold (hazard index = 1). Lastly, the facility must provide an overall summary of the results and conclusions, including any proposed mitigation measures to minimize project impacts.

MassDEP has scheduled public hearings on March 7th and March 9th and written comments will be accepted until April 7th, 2023 at 5 pm.

Learn More:

The background document describing the amendment in detail are available here:

310-cmr-702 (mass.gov)

More information on the public hearings and comment opportunities can be found here:

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/massdep-public-hearings-comment-opportunities


Key Players:

Sonja Sax, M. S., Sc.D, is an environmental health scientist that specializes in evaluating exposure and health risk from environmental pollutants. Dr. Sax has over 20 years of experience in environmental regulatory assessment, health impact assessment and cost-benefit analyses. Sonja has managed large multi-year projects advocating for clients involved in litigation or providing permitting support. She has performed indoor and outdoor air quality investigations evaluating exposures and health impacts of airborne gases and particles. In 2019, she served as an advisor to the US EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee for the particulate matter and ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

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