A bill to ban a proposed 350-megawatt power plant from Brockton failed to win approval from a state Legislature committee on Thursday. House members on the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government voted unanimously to send the bill to a study, effectively defeating the measure, said state Sen. James Eldridge, committee co-chairman.
A bill to ban a proposed 350-megawatt power plant from Brockton failed to win approval from a state Legislature committee on Thursday.
House members on the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government voted unanimously to send the bill to a study, effectively defeating the measure, said state Sen. James Eldridge, committee co-chairman.
The bill did receive support from five of six Senate members of the committee, but they were outnumbered by House members, said Eldridge, D-Acton.
The co-chairman of the committee on the House side, Rep. Paul Donato, D-Medford, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Eldridge, who voted in support of the bill, said he believes House members were worried the Legislature would be setting a precedent for overruling decisions by state energy officials.
Eldridge, however, said he shared concerns of opponents about issues including the proposed location of the plant near low-income neighborhoods.
The gas-burning plant is proposed by Boston-based Advanced Power North America for a site off Oak Hill Way on Brockton’s south side.
“It is encouraging that the municipalities committee did not send this bill to the House floor,” project manager Jonathan Winslow wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
“It is our hope that this decision brings us one step closer to bringing hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenues to the city of Brockton,” he wrote.
Power plant supporters and opponents packed a three-hour hearing on the bill at the Statehouse last month.
Supporters said the plant would create badly needed jobs and tax revenue for Brockton and the bill would usurp the state’s rigorous power plant review process, which has been ongoing for the Brockton project since 2007.
Opponents cited possible health effects from pollution at the plant, the injustice of building a plant in a low-income area and the safety risk of putting it within a few thousand feet of schools and densely populated neighborhoods.
The bill, H4241, was created as a home-rule petition by the City Council and filed by state Rep. Michael Brady, D-Brockton. Home-rule petitions essentially let municipal governments ask the Legislature for anything, as long as the request is constitutional.
“We’re still going to fight to stop this. It’s not over,” Brady said.
Although he expressed disappointment about the vote, Brady said he plans to pursue having the bill moved out of study in coming months for another review by a legislative committee.
State Sen. Thomas Kennedy, a member of the municipalities committee, also said he would work to keep the bill alive.
“I plan to lobby hard and heavy,” said Kennedy, D-Brockton.
The bill states, “no fossil fuel electric power facility or facilities shall be sited in the city of Brockton” that is less than one mile from a playground, day-care center, school, church or area of critical environmental concern — effectively a ban on such plants in the city.
According to the state Legislature Web site, “the vast majority of bills sent to a study order do not progress any further in the legislative process.”
Bill DeMello, president of the Brockton Building Trades, spoke against the bill during last month’s hearing and applauded the committee’s vote Thursday.
The bill would have “opened up a door so any town in the state could fight anything that’s being built,” said DeMello, whose organization represents 17 trade unions in the region. “It would have shut down construction in the state of Massachusetts.”
The state Energy Facilities Siting Board approved a permit for the project last summer, but forced the project to win planning and zoning approvals from Brockton city boards, which the company is now pursuing.
Enterprise writer Kyle Alspach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.