East Boston News
BOSTON – Tuesday, May 4, 2021 – Building on a commitment of environmental justice and protecting public health, Mayor Janey today, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, and GreenRoots advocate Noemy Rodriguez, to urge Eversource to justify or cancel its proposed electrical substation in East Boston.
“As mayor of Boston, I will not remain silent when the people of East Boston are crying out,” said Mayor Janey. “From what I have seen, the substation plan is based on flawed projections and flawed priorities. I urge Eversource to prioritize environmental equity and the wellbeing of East Boston residents over their profits.”
In February 2021, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board gave its final approval for an electrical substation near Chelsea Creek in East Boston. Eversource Energy made the initial proposal in 2013, stating the facility was necessary to support the capacity of a substation in Chelsea. Eversource’s initial estimates for projected energy demand have not been met and new, adjusted data has not been shared publicly. Community members have expressed opposition over the proposal, due to concerns about public safety and environmental justice.
“Environmental justice says we need to ask hard questions about who is asked to carry the burden and who receives the benefits,” said Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Mariama White-Hammond. “I stand with the Mayor and the residents of East Boston to protect those residents who already experience so many burdens. In addition to questioning whether we really need this facility, we need to understand whether or not this facility is in alignment with very real changes that are happening on our planet. I look forward to continuing to work with the community to ensure environmental justice for all residents of Boston.”
East Boston is considered a state designated Environmental Justice Community. 64 percent of community members are people of color and 54 percent of the community are immigrants.
This area faces a variety of environmental hazards, such as noise and air pollution from Logan International Airport, traffic congestion, storage of fuel, manufacturing processes along the Chelsea Creek, as well as storage of road salt and sand along the Chelsea Creek. The proposed location for the substation is adjacent to City Yards, a highly utilized public park where children play, which could lead to potential safety hazards. Climate change and rapid sea-level rise exacerbate the potential danger of having an electrical substation on the waterfront. The citing of this substation in an environmental justice community already facing several environmental hazards, combined with the exposure to children and the risk of flooding, is unsafe.
“Families in East Boston have been through a lot this past year and we hope that our parks can remain an environmentally safe and inviting space for our children,” said Noemy Rodriguez of GreenRoots. “We carry enough of an environmental burden already; if actually needed this substation should be placed somewhere else.”
Expanding on Mayor Janey’s commitment to environmental justice and reducing air pollution, last week the City of Boston began accepting applications for the new Community Clean Air Grant program. Funded through the Air Pollution Control Commission, the City is seeking to support locally-driven proposals from residents, nonprofit organizations, and businesses for projects that will produce meaningful, measurable steps to reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change and air pollution. There will be three rounds of funding throughout the year for projects that will contribute to the City of Boston’s 2019 Climate Action Plan update, which details specific actions the City is taking over five years to significantly cut emissions across all sectors in order to reach Boston’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The City of Boston will be accepting applications until Friday, June 4th.
Mayor Janey’s Administration is taking steps to recognize and address the risks of climate change, and to protect Boston’s urban ecosystem. Last month, Mayor Janey proposed the following investments for environmental resilience and climate justice in the Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Capital Plan proposal:
- $48 million for Phase 2 and 3 of Renew Boston Trust, which is designed to identify energy retrofit project opportunities in City-owned buildings to create future energy savings.
- $5 million for a Climate Ready Boston Harbor study to support the development of a study that will examine the feasibility of measures along and within the Boston Harbor to reduce vulnerability of coastal flooding due to sea level rise caused by climate change.
- $20 million to design and implement a signature, climate resilient waterfront park along the Fort Point Channel.
- $1.7 million per year for the ongoing program of street tree planting throughout the city
- $1.8 million to repave pathways at Dorchester Park
- $7.5 million to repave pathways at the Back Bay Fens to improve accessibility and site conditions
- $15.5 million to complete the park redesign at Copley Square to optimize resilience to high-traffic events and storm-water
- $9.4 million to redesign and construct a new Malcolm X Park through the City’s first Equitable Procurement Pilot program
As indicated in the 2019 Climate Action Plan update, the City of Boston is taking action to lower carbon emissions and reverse the impacts of climate change. Between 2005 and 2016, the amount of carbon pollution emitted by city operations was reduced by 18 percent. This year, the City announced the completion of $11 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to 14 municipal buildings, representing $680,000 in savings and a one percent reduction in municipal greenhouse gas emissions. In February, Community Choice Electricity began supplying over 200,000 residences and commercial customers with more affordable and renewable electricity. In order to provide high quality, safe, and cleaner affordable housing to our most vulnerable residents, the City of Boston recently awarded $34 million to support the creation of 608 new units that will be built to zero emissions standards. Climate Ready Boston is simultaneously strengthening Boston’s climate change resilience and adaptation with near- and long-term planning through neighborhood-level engagement and solutions.
For more information on how Boston is actively preparing for the impacts of climate change and advancing the vision of a resilient city, visit boston.gov/environment.