(BOSTON) — Today Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) led a special briefing of over 150 state lawmakers from across the country, focusing on Massachusetts’ progress in establishing climate change goals and promoting environmental justice.

“It’s important to take the next step on environmental justice, both in Massachusetts and beyond,” said Representative Joan Meschino. “We must ensure that all overburdened and underserved communities have real access to justice.”

The event was organized by the State Climate Policy Network (SCPN), a project of Climate XChange that includes more than 15,000 advocates and policymakers across the country who are pushing for effective and equitable climate policies in their states. Climate XChange is a Boston-based nonprofit working to support state-level climate action through research, communication, and education

“Given Representative Meschino’s history of passing climate legislation in Massachusetts, and her focus on environmental justice this session, she’s definitely a national leader on climate policy,” said Noa Dalzell, Director of the State Climate Policy Network. “I think most states can learn from Massachusetts leadership, when it comes to passing climate bills, and the need to center environmental justice in all climate policy.” 

This session, Representative Meschino filed H.1792 “An Act to create access to justice.” This bill would protect vulnerable groups, including environmental justice populations, and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and other catagories. It also restores civil rights protections for these populations, allowing affected groups to file claims in state court. More information on this legislation, co-presented by Representative Adrian Madaro and Senator Sal DiDomenico, can be found in the factsheet here.

“Our bill, An Act to create access to justice, empowers those who are discriminated against to take legal action in defense of their civil rights,” said Representative Joan Meschino. “As a broad civil rights bill and with the 2050 Roadmap Bill being newly signed into law, this legislation will be crucial to continuing the fight for environmental justice.”

In 2019, Meschino was the original House sponsor of the ‘2050 Roadmap bill’, which was the legislative vehicle for a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2020. Eventually, that bill became a cornerstone of the Next-Generation Roadmap Act (S.9) that was signed into law by Governor Baker in March 2021.

Today’s SCPN briefing also featured a discussion with other leaders including Tina Johnson (Director of the Black Environmental Justice Network), and lawmakers from Michigan, Maryland, and California.