Late last year, pursuant to her review authority under M.G.L. c. 40, § 32, then-Attorney General (now Governor) Maura Healey (the AG) issued a decision disapproving the Town of Carver’s moratoria on large-scale solar projects and battery storage systems. The grounds for the decision were straightforward and well-supported: citing the Supreme Judicial Court’s June, 2022 decision in Tracer Lane II Realty, LLC v. City of Waltham (see our blog post on that important opinion), and case law disfavoring moratoria generally, the AG determined that Carver’s moratoria violated M.G.L. c. 40A, § 3 (Section 3) by unlawfully restricting solar and battery storage systems “with no articulated evidence of an important municipal interest, grounded in protecting the public health, safety, or welfare […] sufficient to outweigh the public need for solar energy systems.” The AG found that instead of promoting the policy behind Section 3, the moratoria “undermined the state policy favoring solar energy” and that the town’s interest
In GreenRoots, Inc. v. Energy Facilities Siting Board, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), for only the second time, had an opportunity to interpret the Environmental Justice Policy (EJ Policy) promulgated by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). The first time, in the 2014 case City of Brockton v. Energy Facilities Siting Board, the SJC decided, first, that the Energy Facilities Siting Board’s (EFSB) application of the EJ Policy was subject to judicial review, despite the EJ Policy’s express disclaimer that it doesn’t create any right to judicial review, and second, that agencies must provide greater public participation and increased scrutiny for projects near EJ populations that exceed certain environmental thresholds.
In GreenRoots the SJC clarified the second takeaway from City of Brockton, holding that the EFSB and other agencies under EOEEA’s purview must provide “enhanced public participation” and “enhanced analysis of impacts and mitigation” for projects that