LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bill would help Randolph fight `environmental injustice’ of Holbrook trash facility
Click here for original article in June 23, 2019 Randolph Journal-Sun
To the Editor:
Last Wednesday, the Holbrook Zoning Board of Appeals held a hearing on the TLA Waste Transfer Station at Holbrook Town Hall. I attended to raise the issue of “environmental injustice” and to encourage writing to our state representatives about the applicability of the proposed “Environmental Justice Act” to TLA-Holbrook.
Several residents in attendance raised the same objections as did Councilor Clifton to the TLA-Holbrook facility: traffic congestion, environmental damage, and health effects. Hundreds of garbage trucks would enter and leave the facility daily, traveling on Randolph’s roads (and other nearby towns’; the facility is located adjacent to the Randolph-Holbrook Commuter Rail Station). Water flow--the primary topic of this week’s hearing--would exit from the floodplain area into Mary Lee Brook and Glover’s Brook, which flow across south Randolph. Any westward wind would blow materials (and smell) into Randolph, with potential health effects.
All of those costs occur in Randolph, while all of the benefits of the facility go to Holbrook (residents will get free trash pickup, and the town gets additional tax revenue). The term for that situation is “environmental injustice,” where the costs occur across the town line from the town getting the benefits. The characteristic of “environmental injustice” facilities is that they’re often right on the town line, as is TLA-Holbrook. I pointed out during the hearing that Holbrook’s engineering and water flow maps all showed parts of Randolph.
There is something we can do about environmental injustice: there’s a bill in state legislature called “The Environmental Justice Act” (known as HB761 and SB464) that addresses the issue. HB761 defines environmental justice as “the right to be protected from environmental pollution regardless of race, income, national origin, or English proficiency,” and spells out criteria for communities to qualify in three categories. Towns qualify as an “environmental justice population” if the average income is under 65% of the state median; if the minority population exceeds 25%; or if over 25% of the residents speak English as a second language. Randolph qualifies on all three criteria.
HB761 was introduced by Rep. Michelle DuBois on Jan. 18, 2019, and Rep. DuBois visited Randolph last week to tell us about it, at the monthly “Our Revolution-Massachusetts” meeting. HB761 requires that environmental justice issues be included in environmental impact statements (which would add a new requirement to TLA-Holbrook), and if TLA-Holbrook passes anyway, provides for financial compensation for environmental damages caused to Randolph. Representative DuBois, who represents Brockton and Bridgewater, is seeking input from residents about environmental justice situations, as evidence to present to her colleagues in the State House and Senate. She’s at firstname.lastname@example.org or 24 Beacon St. #473F, Boston. ORMA members discussed with her at length that TLA-Holbrook is an ideal example. Rep. DuBois got involved with environmental justice issues while fighting a similar trash transfer station in her district, which was defeated.
HB761 currently has 77 co-sponsors, including Randolph’s State Senator Walter Timilty, but not including Randolph’s three State Representatives (Rep. Bruce Ayers, Rep. William Driscoll, and Rep. Mark Cusack). Senator Timilty attended the Holbrook hearing on Wednesday and called the facility “the wrong project, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.” In discussing HB761 with me, Senator Timilty indicated that written input from residents about TLA-Holbrook would be effective in pushing the Environmental Justice Act forward. Sen. Timilty can be contacted at Walter.Timilty@masenate.gov or 24 Beacon St. #213B, Boston.
Rep. Ayers (who represents east Randolph and north Randolph, plus Quincy) spoke at the Holbrook hearing as well, focusing on noise and traffic issues in his public comments, and pointing out that other nearby trash transfer stations are not yet at full capacity. Rep. Ayers has not yet co-sponsored HB761, so an appropriate letter to him would encourage him to add his name to the current 77 co-sponsors (a bill needs 100 votes to pass, so HB761 needs more). He’s at Bruce.Ayers@mahouse.gov or 24 Beacon St. #167, Boston.
I’ll be writing the same to my representative, Bill Driscoll, who represents central Randolph and south Randolph, at William.Driscoll@mahouse.gov and at 24 Beacon St. #443, Boston, to ask him to co-sponsor HB761. I encourage other Randolph residents to do the same. We can open another front in the battle against the Holbrook trash transfer station - adding to the existing battle about traffic and health, and pollution issues by adding environmental justice issues too.
|Committee to Elect Jesse Gordon, 52 West St, Randolph MA 02368|
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