It’s the start of a new legislative session in Massachusetts, which means it’s time for the biannual scramble to secure co-sponsors for our priority bills. This year, Clean Water Action is working to line up support for our Healthy Futures for All legislative package to protect residents, particularly children, from exposure to health-threatening toxics and pollution. All 8 of these bills deserve the urgent and focused attention of legislators because we cannot wait any longer to address lead pipes, ban known toxics, improve air quality, reform the siting of polluting facilities, and prevent children and families from being exposed to harmful pollutants. Our members and supporters can help! The first step on a bill’s journey to become law in Massachusetts is earning co-sponsors. Tell your legislators to co-sponsor the entire Healthy Futures for All package!
One of our top priorities this session is for Massachusetts to join the wave of states passing legislation to protect residents from toxic PFAS chemicals. PFAS are a class of chemicals found in many everyday consumer products due to their ability to make items stain and water resistant. However, they are linked to various negative health impacts including kidney and testicular cancer, liver problems, high cholesterol, and immunosuppression. Our Healthy Futures for All package includes legislation banning PFAS in children’s products, a bill protecting farms from these “forever chemicals,” and a comprehensive PFAS ban. The comprehensive ban includes provisions to finally phase-out the use of PFAS in firefighter turnout gear, a critical step to protect our state’s first responders from these toxic chemicals. Our neighbors in Rhode Island passed a ban on PFAS in food packaging last year, and New York recently signed into law a ban on PFAS in clothing. This session, the Massachusetts legislators should join our neighbors and urgently work to ban PFAS.
We are also supporting important climate justice bills to improve air quality, equitably fund energy efficiency and electrification upgrades, empower overburdened communities, and prevent polluting plastics facilities from being built in the Commonwealth. For too long, Massachusetts environmental justice communities have been overburdened by air pollution from transit and the racist practice of repeatedly building polluting facilities in predominantly Black, Indigenous, and brown neighborhoods. The climate justice bills included in the Healthy Futures for All package would reform the process for choosing locations for energy facilities to give local communities a greater voice and defend already overburdened neighborhoods from new polluting projects. The package also includes the creation of a Zero Carbon Renovation Fund to direct the tsunami of federal climate money flowing into Massachusetts towards equitable improvements targeting low and moderate income households, so that ALL families can enjoy energy savings, cleaner indoor air, and a livable climate future.
Of course, no Clean Water Action legislative priorities list would be complete without bills to protect clean water! This session, we are continuing our work to #GetTheLeadOut of drinking water. There is no safe level of lead exposure for young children, so we are advocating for the passage of An Act ensuring safe drinking water at schools which requires school and childcare facilities to test their drinking water outlets for lead and mandates remediation if elevated lead levels are found.
Exposure to lead, fine and ultrafine particulate air pollution, PFAS, and other toxics negatively impacts the health of everyone in Massachusetts, but the youngest residents of the Commonwealth are the most vulnerable. We also recognize that some neighborhoods are more burdened with health threatening pollution than others due to decades of systemic racism. This is why we need to move several pieces of legislation at the same time.
The Healthy Futures for All package addresses overlapping health threats from pollution in Massachusetts, empowers communities to reject polluting facilities, and funds equitable energy upgrades to bring the financial and health benefits of the transition to clean energy to every household. Tell your legislators to co-sponsor these bills, and let’s get them all passed!