The Claflin Center was packed last Friday for the Environmental Public Service Committee’s brown bag program called “Learning From City of Brockton v. Energy Facilities Siting Board: Environmental Justice Strategies and Collaboration.” If you’re not familiar with the case, here’s why it’s such a big deal:
The case involved multiple appeals from a decision of the EFSB regarding the siting of a fossil-fuel powered power plant on the Brockton-West Bridgewater line. The case raised new issues of the application of the Commonwealth’s Environmental Justice Policy to administrative decisions. Although the SJC ultimately upheld the EFSB’s decision, its decision included language suggesting that state agencies will have to think hard about how they approach decisions affecting environmental justice communities in light of the policy.
We reach out to panelist Gene Benson (Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions) to learn more about the important role of attorneys in pro bono environmental justice efforts. Here’s his take:
“There is a great need for lawyers to assist environmental justice community residents pro bono. Working with low income community residents is a terrific experience and an opportunity for environmental lawyers to use their special expertise and experience to help people achieve a safe and healthy environment. The Massachusetts Environmental Justice Assistance Network, co-founded by the BBA and ACE, does a great job connecting lawyers with lower income community residents needing assistance.”
For more on assisting low-income residents in need, read BBA President Julia Huston’s blog, Let the Record Show.