Whoa. That’s a lot of days all together. And tucked in there was day 100 (in 2019). As you can see, soon it will be 200 lunch breaks since Feb 28, 2017. It makes me sad.
I have pictures of my feet, pics of the rare stuff I brought in to constituent services… I just can’t be arsed to get it off of my phone right now. I’m sorry. It’s all pretty mundane stuff, the gist of which can be summed up in this tweet:
CZM (whom I have NO hope of saving us with a negative determination), extended its stay recently. It was August 5th, then September 5th, now it’s October 5th. My thoughts on which can be summed up thusly:
Meanwhile, Gov Baker goes to the opening of this and that, here and there while the hard work of likely hundreds of people on the new Fore River Bridge goes unrecognized because Baker is too chicken to face us here in the Basin. This is from today:
Maybe I shouldn’t write blog posts when my head hurts a bit. Not very cheery this evening. Baker has succeeded in his quest to avoid Weymouth, avoid constituents, avoid me for YEARS. Ask yourself what kind of person does that?
In case you missed it, I’ve been consolidating my days because it’s easier on my home/family life in the evenings.
These days cover the end of July and middle of August. Many days I don’t bring anything with me, some days I do.
Here’s the drawback of consolidating: remembering what I did bring when I brought stuff, LOL. I don’t think anyone cares as much as I do about what I brought, LOL, and that’s OK.
Due to a new round of intern staffing, etc., Gov’s constituent services had spotty knowledge, if any, about the compressor, so I printed out some great media pieces from this year to help fill in the gaps.
I had some company from Mass Power Forward August 1 & 2! MPF was there Aug 1, 2, 5 but I was off on Aug 5th. There were some great signs and tons of support in the fight against the compressor/Gov Baker.
I was able to speak August 1 & 2, and I did a version of the blog posts I wrote recently for Blue Mass Group:
Why should anyone outside of the
Fore River Basin care about the compressor getting built?
happens, though, if one day, some big, for-profit corporation wanted to build
dangerous infrastructure in your neighborhood? Wouldn’t you think that existing
state laws, regulations, and common sense would surely prevent such a thing
from being built?
If your community faces a
dangerous infrastructure project, you will be out of luck for the next 3.5
years. If the compressor is permitted to
be built in Weymouth, the same or similar injustice will happen to you under
the Baker administration.
During the review process, state laws have been broken and/or ignored, ethics have been breached, air test results paid for with tax
dollars were hidden from the public. All of these infractions have gone
unpunished and unacknowledged by Gov. Baker.
Any normally strong arguments like:
it’s protected conservation land”
is massive political pressure against this project”
are entitled to due process”
are laws and regulations against this!”
local emergency planning councils say this is a massive public safety concern”
state infrastructure would be decimated in the event of an explosion!”
Are useless against this administration
The project you may
end up fighting may not be a gas-related project. It may be something else you
care very much about keeping away from your family and friends. I wish you well
in your fight, because Governor Baker has made it very easy for corporations to
do whatever they want in Massachusetts.
What are you supposed to do when the Governor,
who swore to uphold MA’s laws, will NOT uphold them?
the end of June (and DEP’s go ahead for the air permit plan), I have taken many
steps to try to get Senator Warren’s attention back to the Fore River Basin.
Senators Warren and Markey did what they could to try to raise important
questions w/ FERC and PHMSA a couple of years ago. I’m not ungrateful in the least for Warren and
Markey’s past involvement with the compressor issue, but we are at a dangerous
tipping point right now.
With the issuance of the air permit, and
likely other permits ready to roll by early August, I don’t have time to
participate in polite and repetitive requests.
Despite demands to stop the project from
Municipal, State and Federal elected officials, our Governor has been steadfast
in his dedication to Canadian-owned Enbridge. Gov. Baker is no longer
embarrassed or pushed to action by local political, activist or press pressure.
Our story needs national attention, and I believe Senator Warren can use her
current position as Presidential candidate to shine a big light on our plight.
So I’m making a public plea to SENATOR
WE NEED YOUR HELP.
Weymouth is in the fight of its life, with
national implications if this precedent-setting compressor is allowed to be
built. It’s not just Weymouth or the Fore River Basin that would be affected in
New England: Residents of New Hampshire and Maine will
face increased danger from highly pressurized gas that would run through a
Weymouth compressor and an old pipeline not built for the increased pressure,
as well as two compressors in New Hampshire and five compressors in Maine.
Residents of the Marcellus shale area of PA will also be further burdened with increased fracking. We need Senator Warren’s voice against this terrible project, on the national level. Weymouth’s fight is a microcosm of what’s going on nationally regarding fossil fuel companies shoving projects down people’s throats. Don’t let Jay Inslee show you up, Senator Warren! Speak out!
That last one got a wee bit of traction in State House News:
Which netted some overdue communication from Warren’s office. Oh yeah. Stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, I made a promise to Gov. Baker:
I mean every word on that post-it.
Gov. Baker, it’s not too late to do the lawful thing. And you still owe us 2 studies that you promised in 2017 that would be done BEFORE any permits were issued. Where are they? HEre’s Alice Arena of FRRACS reading your 2017 letter at the Aug 1st rally outside your office:
Weymouth was the closest it had ever been to having Enbridge shovels in the ground before this missed deadline happened. Like, scarily close. Now, there is NO CHANCE of shovels in the ground for the remainder of the year!
We are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, but we can breathe again.
I walked to 29 Senate offices to thank each office personally for signing a letter to DEP commissioner Suuberg asking for the air permit to be denied. (sample of notes, below).
I found out about the air permit approval while I was walking the offices. I was not surprised but it’s still a gut punch to realize how horrible your governor is. This is the Senate letter, signed by 29 of 40 Senators. It was a tight deadline, they would have likely had almost all of the Senators signatures. WHEN HAVE YOU EVER SEEN anything like this? FFS! Huge thank you to Sen O’Connor for organizing this amazing show of support.
On another note- I altered a version of the This Is Fine dog viral comic to suit my needs when the air permit was granted by Suuberg July 12th.
I did another one, but someone else placed the heads. SO good.
OK, so, yeah, I drowned my sorrows in memes, with a little help from friends.
Today, Day 168/86 is July 17th. Two years ago was my last day sitting in the Gov’s office (so I thought) as he had issued his letter calling for assessments and studies. SMH. I wrote a letter today.
July 17, 2019
Dear Governor Baker-
It was 2 years ago today
that I ended my first sit-in at your office. You had issued a letter asking for
three studies: health impact assessment (HIA), public safety, and coastal
resiliency. We were all cautiously optimistic that the scopes of these studies
would illustrate the truth of the dangers inherent with this project.
All we received was an
underfunded HIA that used Enbridge’s unverified data as a basis and incomplete
air toxins data from abbreviated testing. Oh, and we got an air permit shoved
I see how this is going to
go. You said as much in your last Ask The Governor segment: residents of the
Fore River Basin will have to look to the courts for any relief. Are you that
much of a coward that you would rather break your oath as Governor than anger
You took an oath of office that stated: I,_______________________, do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and will support the Constitution thereof. So help me, God.
Article 97 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts states:T he people shall have the right to clean air and water, freedom from excessive and unnecessary noise, and the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation, development and utilization of the agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air and other natural resources is hereby declared to be a public purpose.
It appears the answer is “yes.”
When I started sitting in
your waiting room a second time, Jan 14th of this year, my ask was
that you deny all permits. Since that won’t happen, I am at a turning point as
to what to do with my sit-in action.
What do you a do with a
Governor that doesn’t follow the laws he was elected to uphold? What do you do
with a Governor that plays at being a climate leader but is really an cowardly
You remind him that he is a
cowardly climate loser every day you can by continuing to sit-in his office on
principle. I hate to talk like this— name calling—but your actions dictate how
I see you, Gov. Baker. You can do better. We expect you to do better. DO
DEP’s Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild has not only made her recommendation for Enbridge, she’s made ridiculous requests (2 blowdowns per year, operationally unworkable for a compressor) and arbitrary/vindictive striking out of petitioner testimony as well (page 33, footnote). The decision PDF is here:
I mean, we aren’t dumb. We know all of the DEP permits will eventually be handed over to Enbridge. It’s been made very clear to us (AND the media) that Gov Charlie Baker and his DEP are participants in regulatory capture. We can only hope for justice in the MA courts, although Baker has packed the courts with his judges in record numbers since his election.
If you stopped slobbering over this ruling long enough to find out what the actual status was, you’d find that NO permits have been issued for this project. You’d also know that when permits are issued (we’re not naive) there’ll be a ton of court cases holding this thing up.
So, what did I do June 27th? I skipped the Gov’s office—Baker is conveniently overseas right now, before a holiday week) I went to pay Elizabeth Warren’s office my first visit. 24th floor, yo.
Here what I left :
Dear Senator Warren and staff:
I know y’all are super busy.
May I please ask something of Senator Warren: would she please tweet a short thought about what’s happening in the Fore River Basin (pls see attached Globe story, 1)? I have emailed Darien, and he has said he’ll look into it, but I felt I also better follow up 🙂
It looks like Weymouth and the Fore River Area is going to get an air permit for the compressor shoved on us despite MassDEP lying to us, and then saying it’s no big deal that ambient air toxins in the area are already way over DEP/EPA limits. Even Maura Healey is edging towards involvement (pls see attached story, 2).
It would be immense for us in the Basin if Sen Warren was able to help amplify an ongoing injustice when the compressor fight is at a critical juncture. MassDEP Presiding Officer Rothchild issued her ruling on our air permit appeal yesterday, in favor of granting the appeal. It’s now in DEP commissioner Suuberg’s court to sign his approval… or not. (pls see attached story, 3)
Sen Warren’s involvement in this compressor fight has been invaluable and we need her again for as long as it takes to tweet.
Thank you for your consideration!
PS: I have been staging a sit-in off an on since 2017 at Gov. Baker’s office, and although I was successful at helping move him to action in 2017, I am hitting a 6’6” brick wall right now. Baker is the only one who is for this compressor, and he is the boss of the only agencies who can lawfully say NO to this compressor project. It’s been 160 days.
Hail Mary ask: would it be possible, at any time, for Senator Warren to sit with me for 5 minutes at the state house one day? I know the answer to this question but asking doesn’t hurt.
LOL, I know this is ALL the longest shot possible, but it never hurts to ask… repeatedly.
ONE MORE THING
Our always honest Mayor Hedlund had this on his Facebook feed as a comment on the DEP ruling:
June 25th was a very busy day. I stopped by the Gov’s office earlier than my usual time, after this very well-attended Legislative briefing on the dangers of gas, from extraction point to use in our homes. It’s a short meeting, please have a watch.
Steve Jones, MD, (retired) CDC from Sierra Club of MA
Madeleine Scammell, DSc, Associate Professor at BU School of Public Health
Ellie Goldberg, Mothers Out Front
Philip Landrigan, MD, Professor Boston College
Alice Arena, Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station lead.
(The bestest ever)
The room reserved for this meeting turned out to be too small to accomodate all of the staffers sent by all of the elected officials. As you can see from the meeting video, it was an amazing turnout, so grateful! Many thanks to the organizations and elected officials that made this meeting happen (Sen Comerford, Rep Sabadosa)! Here are some handouts from Mothers Out Front that staffers could take back to their boss to show how the officials could help:
And all this was just the MORNING of June 25th.
The afternoon of the 25th was eventful as well. A meeting was held to talk about the lack of a permanent air monitor in the Fore River Basin. The battle for a station has gone on decades, and is very personal to many who attended, especially Rep Mariano. With his permission, I livestreamed the meeting. Really amazing experience listening to the officials, their plans, stories, previous and current efforts and a window into how the legislative sausage gets made at the State House.
From citizen organizer, Mr Mullalley:
We packed the House Members Lounge. Almost 40 community leaders from Braintree, Quincy, Weymouth, Randolph, Hingham, Hull and Cohasset — areas that are directly affected by the air pollution of the Fore River Basin — met with their State Representatives: Mark Cusack (D-Braintree); Ron Mariano (D-Quincy); Tacky Chan (D-Quincy); Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy); James Murphy (D-Weymouth); and, Joan Meschino (D-Hull). We were also joined by Fore River Basin State Senators Walter Timilty (D-Milton) and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). Also participating were State Representative Michelle DuBois (D-Brockton), who has a related Environmental Justice bill pending, and aides to Fore River Basin Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy) and Representative Patrick Kearney (D-Scituate).
At the meeting, both the legislators and community leaders expressed frustration with MassDEP’s failure to protect the air that Fore River Basin residents breathe. We discussed the unacceptable levels of toxins in Fore River Basin air revealed by recent measurements and how our communities are overly afflicted by respiratory, cardiovascular and pancreatic diseases associated by air pollution exposure. Disturbingly, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy have the three highest rates of diabetes in the entire state – over 8 % of the population.
It was agreed that we (the community leaders and the legislators) are allied and united in the goal of improving the air quality of the Fore River Basin. We also agreed that an Air Quality Monitoring Station must be placed in the Fore River Basin to address our current situation, and that a proposed Compressor Station would make our existing bad air quality worse.
In the near term, Majority Leader Mariano suggested we use Representative Murphy’s House Bill 2909 and Senator O’Connor’s Senate Bill 1990 as vehicles to press our Fore River Basin Air Quality agenda. Those bills aim to place an Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Fore River Basin. Leader Mariano said he and the entire Fore River Basin delegation would personally request the Senate and House Chairpersons of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (State Senator Michael Barrett and State Representative Tom Golden) to move those bills to a quick resolution. Leader Mariano welcomed our input, and Alice Arena’s in particular, on amending the bills in committee. And, the Fore River Basin delegation believe that as united as they are and with the community leaders’ support, we will have success.
We also agreed we should continue to prepare for a non-binding public policy initiative for the November 2020 ballot calling for the enforcement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the Fore River Basin – that is, unless we are successful and our legislative approach renders it moot. Michael Mullaley will work with the Attorney General’s and Leader Mariano’s offices on precise ballot initiative wording. By law, such a ballot initiative cannot begin signature gathering until April 28, 2020. Before then, our Fore River Basin legislators believe they can pass legislation to get MassDEP to finally protect the Fore River Basin air we breathe. Should that effort prove unsatisfactory, we will then try a ballot initiative as additional ammunition to help our legislators get MassDEP to take action.
Trying to get back into the swing of things. I have to remind myself that even though my effort is hitting a 6′ 6″ wall, it’s important to keep documenting everything I find important.
Today I brought a new story from Itai Vardi, the bestest reporter in the east. One of the best parts of this debacle is meeting the fantastic reporters in the Boston area. I am eternally grateful for their work, none more so than Itai. He has been with the project since the beginning, and even though he shocks and sometimes depresses us with his findings, the findings are always valuable.
This story was about former Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and his slippery grasp on ethics. OK, he has no grasp. I wish I could laugh, but I’ll quote the old (unfortunately racist) Morrissey: “I wish I could laugh but that joke isn’t funny anymore.” Itai also had a short thread on Twitter that I think is worth reading.
Things have happened in such a relatively rapid succession I am having a hard time keeping up with my real life and my compressor life at the same time. But I’m not going anywhere, folks.
Last night was an awards ceremony in Newton and Gov Baker was accepting an award after making a short speech. I decided to attend, too. I got a totally cute dress from Savers, LOL, and put on some heels tall enough to make me 6′ or 6’1″ in case I was able to ask the Gov a question. Well, I didn’t get to ask.
Here’s what happened.
Got there for cocktail hour. A bunch of folks were holding protest signs for No Compressor, and many handmade signs targeting Baker. Awesome.
As I walked up the stairs to the event area, I could see the protestors out of the big windows.
I ran right into Ralph Child (Mintz/Enbridge attorney) as I was checking in. I was friendly. I wish I could be cold and haughty but I have no idea how to do that, LOL. Sparse attendance inside, but things got rolling a bit more after people got off work.
I ran into Frank from FRRACS and we talked. Alice was supposed to be there but she was feeling terrible/sick.
I didn’t talk to any other folks, really. We were seated in the dining area and I didn’t know anyone at my table. I don’t think EBCNE really checked the guest list as I shockingly wasn’t in the nosebleed tables.
I introduced myself to Katie Theoharides (the new EEA Secretary), and she was all “I know who you are” and had a moue of distaste she couldn’t hide. I told her I wasn’t going to make a fuss, I swore on my kids’ heads. She loosened up maybe 5% but I think she was basically grossed out by me. Who knows what she’s heard about me. It made me sad.
Before the dinner started, I saw Zach, Baker’s body guy, doing advance work. He saw me, I waved and then I motioned him to the hallway. I told him I wasn’t going to make a ruckus, but that I wanted to ask the Gov. a question.
What was the question, he asked. Will Baker kill the compressor using MA laws? Yes or no. I sat back in my seat.
Baker came in and went to talk to people at tables in a tight perimeter near the podium. I was in the back table, but in the middle. Baker gave the speech, people gave him a standing O.
I waited 3 minutes too long to get up and see if I could catch Baker outside. Excuses: I was exhausted, I had just had 5 days of no rest (tent camping, then a 5th grade camp chaperone) so I wasn’t on my game. I ran down the stairs in my ridiculous heels in time to get to the door, but Baker’s car was pulling away.
Zach was at the door, still, and was full of polite excuses. I said Zach, I need five minutes. I want my life back. I’m tired. I need five minutes. Zach really didn’t have much to say to that. He and I know it will never happen.
I AM tired. I am frustrated, but I am also wicked stubborn. Heh.
I left off at Day #152/70. I’ve done 153, 154, 155 (today).
So much has happened regarding the AQ plan hearing, but I honestly don’t think it will make a bit of difference as DEP regulations say they don’t have to take ambient air toxics into consideration before they permit additional polluters. WTF.
I went to a hearing at the State House for a little bit today to hand over my testimony and attachments in support of Senator Patrick O’Connor’s bill S.1319. My letter:
RE: Bill S.1319
Dear members of Joint Committee on Public Health:
I submit testimony in favor of Sen. Patrick O’Connor’s bill S.1319 that would add language to require the State to take existing ambient air quality into consideration before permitting additional polluters.
I have spent four days at an air quality plan hearing that knocked me sideways after finding out the MassDEP uses regulations from 1989 as their rule of thumb in reviewing air permits for polluters. The DEP won’t, of its own accord, take ambient air toxicity into consideration before adding more pollution so we rely on you to make this happen, JCPH.
High concentrations of air toxics exist currently in the Fore River Basin, but that makes no difference to MassDEP when it comes to adding more polluters to the area. That must never happen to any other community again. I say again, because I’m pretty sure MassDEP will approve this air permit, even after all the controversy.
Please see the attached documents for reference, especially the Cleaner Air Oregon Regulatory Reform Advisory Committee – Cumulative Risks and Background document. Other states are way ahead of Massachusetts. Let’s catch up, for all our sakes.
The compressor AQ hearing is closed as of yesterday.
Below are the Weymouth gas transmission compressor air quality permit plan approval hearings live-tweets to the best of my ability. SO much gratitude to Weymouth leadership & Solicitor, Miyares & Harrington, FRRACS, Morrison & Mahoney (Mike Hayden), Lori Hayden, Quincy. Hingham, & Braintree attorneys, the witnesses who no doubt lost years of their life on testimony prep, and supporters that came from all over greater Boston and western Mass!
Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild has until July 12th to hand her recommendation to DEP Commissioner Suuberg. Only with his signature can ANY permits be granted. This deadline was agreed to between MassDEP and Enbridge and is NOT a court order. Ms. Rothchild really pushed the original June 28th deadline during the hearing which was endlessly frustrating because it’s in Enbridge’s favor, not the people’s.
I’ll leave you with one more fun fact from the hearings and Itai Vardi’s research: