East Boston environmental activists meet with state regulators

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Discuss common ground and opportunities for improvement 

(EAST BOSTON, MA) – On Tuesday, December 12, environmental activists from East Boston’s Logan Community Clean Air Coalition met with state regulators, environmental justice lawyers, and the city of Boston to discuss flaws in the environmental review system for Logan International Airport. Members of Massport’s leadership were also in attendance. 

The activists asked state regulators to close a loophole that allows airport projects to advance without review of environmental impacts. In addition, they urged the state to reform the comment process which accepts public input only after major decisions have been made, and they objected to the length, complexity, and formatting of Massport’s environmental reports. For example, the 2020-2021 Environmental Data Report for Boston Logan International Airport is 794 pages long. East Boston is a working class neighborhood, and even the most active members of the environmental community struggle to make time for such heavy reading.

During the meeting, the activists praised the state, Governor Healey, and Mayor Wu for listening to their perspectives and asked for reforms which would end the procedural injustices which continue to heap environmental burdens on low income and minority communities and drive childhood asthma and chronic public health impacts by allowing unmanaged growth at Logan. 

Noting that the present review system documents environmental impacts years after the damage has been caused, the activists pointed out that airport planning can be improved by accepting community input throughout the entire process, and asked Massport to create a mitigation framework which is based on actual impacts, not on often inaccurate forecasts – as they are today. They added that this approach would allow regulators to focus on protecting local communities from environmental damage, rather than sorting out mitigation after the damage has been allowed. 

After the meeting, the activists announced that Massport officials have agreed to streamline their reports and make them more accessible to readers, and called for further progress to be made in follow-up meetings. As AIR, Inc. spokesperson Chris Marchi said, “We hope this is the start of a more transparent relationship between MEPA, EEA, Massport, and residents. But there are big questions about the future of airport planning for New England, and the future of environmental justice that need to be answered. We’re asking the governor and mayor to weigh in on whether airport expansion will continue to get a free pass to damage public health, or whether the state’s promise of environmental protection is going to cover everyone.”

Submitted by AIR, Inc. on January 3, 2024

Updated on January 10, 2023

AIr Inc
Courtesy graphic AIR, Inc.