The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) office has issued draft protocols for projects that potentially impact Environmental Justice (EJ) Populations. These protocols describe how the MEPA Office wants Public Involvement and Analysis of Project Impacts addressed for projects in or near EJ areas. Under the draft protocols all projects within a mile of an EJ area (or 5 miles if there are air impacts) must provide advanced notification before filing the Environmental Notification Form (ENF), adding a new step to the MEPA process and timeline. Projects exceeding any MEPA threshold for air, wastewater, solid waste, or hazardous waste, and projects with more than 150 diesel vehicle trips, must prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) with new analyses of past and current polluting activities. If project construction or operation activities will materially exacerbate any existing environmental or public health burden (even just slightly if the burden is already high), or if activities will impact EJ populations any more than non-EJ populations, the project has a disproportionate adverse impact and must describe measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate the impact to the maximum extent practicable, in addition to measures that the project proposes to take to address its impacts more generally.
The draft documents are here: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/information-about-upcoming-regulatory-updates and comments may be submitted to MEPAemail@example.com until November 26th. The MEPA Office expects final protocols to become effective January 1.