General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 12 Department of the Attorney General, and the District Attorneys - Section 11D Division of environmental protection

Section 11D. There shall be in the department of the attorney general a division of environmental protection. The attorney general shall designate an assistant attorney general as director of said division. Said director may appoint and remove, subject to the approval of the attorney general, such expert, clerical or other assistants as the work of the division may require.

The attorney general shall have the authority to prevent or remedy damage to the environment caused by any person, body corporate or politic or any agency, department, board, commission, division or authority of the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof at the request of an appropriate agency or on his own initiative, by commencing or intervening in a proceeding before an appropriate agency, department, board, commission, division or authority, whether state or federal, and before any political subdivision of the commonwealth, or by commencing or intervening in any suit or action, civil or criminal, to enforce any statute, ordinance, by-law or regulation or to secure any common law right or remedy including, but not limited to, the abatement of public nuisances, provided, however, it shall be a defense to any action taken pursuant to this section that any such person is subject to, and in compliance in good faith with, a judicially enforceable administrative pollution abatement schedule or implementation plan the purpose of which is alleviation of damage to the environment.

Each agency, board, commission, division and authority of the commonwealth shall give written notice to the attorney general of all adjudicatory proceedings or public hearings in which damage to the environment is or may be at issue; provided, however, that failure to give such notice shall not invalidate such proceeding or public hearing.

As used in this section, “damage to the environment” shall mean any destruction, damage or impairment, actual or probable, to any of the natural resources in the commonwealth and shall include, but shall not be limited to, air pollution, water pollution, improper sewage disposal, pesticide pollution, excessive noise, improper operation of dumping grounds, or the impairment or eutrophication of rivers, streams, flood plains, lakes, ponds or other surface or subsurface water resources, destruction of seashores, dunes, marine resources, underwater archaeological resources, wetlands, open spaces, natural areas, parks or historic districts or sites. Damage to the environment shall not include any insignificant destruction, damage or impairment to such natural resources.

The attorney general shall receive and maintain appropriate records of complaints from interested persons relating to damage to the environment, and upon the receipt thereof shall refer the same to an appropriate agency or subdivision of the commonwealth for such further corrective action as may be necessary to prevent or remedy damage to the environment.

The attorney general may investigate the administration of environmental statutes, ordinances or regulations by an agency, department, board, commission, division or authority of the commonwealth or of any political subdivision thereof and may make such recommendations as are appropriate to the governor and to the general court.

Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to derogate from any existing common law or statutory right or remedy against damage to the environment.

In any action at law or suit in equity brought by the attorney general in any court of the commonwealth involving alleged damage to the environment, whether or not a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction is sought or granted, after a representation by the attorney general by affidavit that delay in the trial on the merits would prevent the attainment of a full and complete remedy to the alleged damage to the environment, the court, upon finding that the facts alleged in said affidavit are true, shall place said action or suit on the advanced section of the trial list in said court with such order of priority over other cases on said advanced section as the court shall deem appropriate.

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Last modified: September 11, 2015