Day #21

It’s been 21 work days I’ve spent my lunch going to Gov. Baker’s office. I started this blog on March 7th, although my first visit to his office was February 28th. Below are some stats before I get to today’s note and guest:

• #SitWithAndrea has had a lot of visitors in 25 days! 796 unique visitors have viewed this blog:

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• The Top 10 viewed pages are:

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• People, including myself, are looking for any reasons why Gov. Baker would still support Spectra’s projects in MA…. I have a Bitly account to manage my links, and it appears I made 2 Bitly links for the Baker/Spectra lobbyist story, oops, but, 53 people were interested in this article—far more than the other articles I’ve linked to.

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Press! #SitWithAndrea has had 2 pieces written about it, been referenced in 1 column in the Globe and 1 entry in Politico’s Massachusetts Playbook, and I’ve spoken to Boston Magazine and DeSmogBlog.

• I’ve walked 25.2 miles to and from the State House so far!

• I have had 24 people come to sit with me since I started. Thank you SO much, everyone.

OK, on to today’s note

Notes on the news about Spectra once again putting safety last in Providence, RI, an annotated copy of the dratted “proposed” Air Permit Spectra received from MassDEP yesterday (I have No Printable Words about this development), the new article from The Patriot Ledger, and my favorite thing to remind his office about, Section 7 of the GWSA:
SECTION 7. (in part)
In considering and issuing permits, licenses and other administrative approvals and decisions, the respective agency, department, board, commission or authority shall also consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts, including additional greenhouse gas emissions, and effects, such as predicted sea level rise.

Today’s guest was Weymouth resident Mary P. who braved the weather to accompany me. Thank you!

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Day #20

Last night, Providence, RI had a scare that no one needs: a massive, high-pressure gas leak. A malfunction happened at the gate station and caused a pipeline to burst a little further down the road. First report was from residents at around 8:15pm, not from National Grid, nor any other entity associated with maintaining the gas infrastructure safety.

All of the news reports out of Providence says a “take station” malfunctioned, but it’s really a gate station: “Gate stations serve three purposes.  First, they reduce the pressure in the line from transmission levels (200 to 1,500 pounds) to distribution levels, which range from ¼ pound to 200 pounds.  Then an odorant, the distinctive sour scent associated with natural gas, is added, so that consumers can smell even small quantities of gas.  Finally, the gate station measures the flow rate of the gas to determine the amount being received by the utility.”

It actually took over 7 HOURS to stop the gas and make repairs.  A hunch made me think that possibly Spectra could be involved as I knew they were in that area somewhere already.

A friend and I did some research to find out what company is responsible for that Providence station and pipeline. We settled on Algonquin (Spectra Energy), but hadn’t seen any news reports nor couldn’t get any info from officials sources like the Providence FD. This link I just re-reviewed to include in the blog had been updated, and lo and behold… Spectra Energy... Which is good, because I just laid out my hunch to Gov. Baker in today’s note. I felt like the Unibomber or similar cramming all the paper with my research in the envelope 😐

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The reactions on social media mixed with more official reports, displaying the fear and disruption that went on last night:

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I was joined today by Ben W. who works with Toxics Action Center. TAC has been a huge help, in the long fight against pipelines in MA (among other things), and has offered to help me with this action, which is GREAT!

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INTERLUDE: Why feet?

One of the most asked questions I get is “Feet? Why pictures of feet?’

Well. Two reasons:
1, not everyone wants their face spread all over the interwebs, so feet are easy
2, I’ve been taking feet photos on my walks through Boston for well over a year now

The end.

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Day #19

Continuing on the “required by law” theme I have going, today’s note contained a printout of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 (GWSA), and a press release regarding last year’s MA court case win where “the Court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the State’s GHG [Green House Gas] emissions and ordered the agency to “promulgate regulations that address multiple sources or categories of sources of greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released . . . and set limits that decline on an annual basis.” Among the very interesting things I learned reading the text of the GWSA was found in Section 7:

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Text below:

SECTION 7: In considering and issuing permits, licenses and other administrative approvals and decisions, the respective agency, department, board, commission or authority shall also consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts, including additional greenhouse gas emissions, and effects, such as predicted sea level rise.

In my mind, THIS ^^^ gives Gov. Baker authority to direct his Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary to urge the denial of permits from MassDEP and MA Coastal Zone Management (CZM) based on the GWSA alone, much less the court case results, AND the Executive Order #569.

There is so much data out there (Acadia Center is one source), no one can ignore that new gas pipelines and infrastructure are NOT compatible with meeting GWSA requirements. Gov. Baker, why are you the only one still OK with these Spectra projects?

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Today I had two people sit with me: Mary P. from Weymouth and Tracie B. from Mothers Out Front. A lot of what happens when people not from Weymouth come to sit is a really good Q&A session. Usually the folks from groups that live other towns go back to their groups and tell them what they found out. It’s great. And the fully informed folks from Weymouth more than carry their weight 🙂 Thanks, everyone! (forgot a foot-in-office pic, but here’s a feet-in-SH-elevator pic, LOL)

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Day #18

Today the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Tolling Order on Atlantic Bridge requests for Rehearing. That means FERC can ignore everything until it feels like dealing with things—their own deadlines no longer apply to them. So, the affected towns, and residents with independent legal representation have to wait— we need Governor Baker’s administration to step up to help protect Massachusetts.

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The note I left the Governor today had some incontrovertible information to remind the him and his administration of their legally required responsibilities to meet the goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 (GWSA)By law, the Governor and his administration must cut emissions through various avenues to meet target greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. A plan laid out in the Governor’s September 2016’s Executive Order #569 is the roadmap to meeting the GWSA goals required by law, however, any additional fossil fuel infrastructure is “irreconcilable with climate commitments” (see graph below from Acadia Center)

New natural gas infrastructure IS NOT COMPATIBLE with meeting the GWSA

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I printed out the Executive Order and highlighted some pertinent passages that point to very serious responsibilities for the Governor’s administration. The kind of passages you cannot brush off, and are… wait for it… REQUIRED BY LAW.

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In other news, I had some awesome guests today, with a surprise Weymouth resident popping in. Jerry G, his daughter, Elizabeth W., and Jerry’s granddaughter Baylee. Jerry and his family was the first photo in the Humans of the Incineration Zone series, and Jerry is also very active in fighting Spectra’s proposals for Weymouth. Baylee brought me a really yummy “bouquet” of Hershey’s kisses, so sweet! The surprise resident was at the State House for other reasons and popped in—Lisa J. from Weymouth. It was great to catch up with everyone, and show Baylee (on a half day from kindergarten) the Governor’s waiting room. I thank everyone so much for taking time out of their days and joining me. It means a lot!

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Day #17

Two guests joined me today: Patrick A. from Weymouth and Minga C-B. from Cambridge (I may have gotten this wrong, but I think she’s from Mothers Out Front). Thank you for joining me!

Today’s note was all about gas compressors and explosions. It’s too bad I cannot share the explosion videos in my notes. I paraphrased Weymouth resident’s comment on a recent explosion: maybe compressors shouldn’t be placed in densely populated areas, folks. Or, really, anywhere especially in Massachusetts. We don’t need the gas!

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I also included the glaring reasons why FERC thinks siting a compressor in a densely populated area is OK: rampant conflicts of interest riddle FERC, and on Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge proposals specifically. Reporter Itai Vardi of DeSmogBlog has multiple stories on different conflicts at his series here. Itai’s early work on the FERC 3rd party conflicts of interest was used in Senators Warren and Markey’s first letter to FERC on our behalf.

One interesting thing happened today: as I was talking with Minga, Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, came out of the Governor’s office. I managed a half whispered “Sir”, and thank goodness he turned to me. I quickly told him two things: I loved his latest Boston Sanctuary City video and that I was sitting here to get action from Baker regarding a Spectra project. Mayor Walsh’s ears perked up at the mention of Spectra because of the awful metering station project in West Roxbury, and the lack of a safety plan from Spectra. He asked what the Spectra project was and where. I quickly told him, he nodded and then said “Fight on.” Will do!

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Day #16

I read a great little story this morning about how Attleboro citizens/business owners and legislatures are forming a coalition against the proposed compressor station in Rehoboth. This initiative is spreading like dandelion fluff in the wind (yay!). If your business would like to sign on from ANY of the 24 MA towns affected by Spectra Energy’s proposals, please go here to do so. This list is administered by Consumers For Sensible Energy.

So… I decided to print out that Attleboro article, and write a note about how this coalition action is only going to spread, and why, oh, why is he almost the only one in MA elected office that supports Spectra’s projects?

A note on the Rehoboth compressor: Weymouth and Rehoboth are the sole compressors proposed for Spectra’s projects. Both are craptacular projects and are not needed, dangerous, and too close to humans. Which compressor proposal siting is worse is not a competition, and if it was there would be NO WINNERS.

I decided, however, to take this opportunity to include information from North Weymouth Town Councilor Becky Haugh regarding the student population in the area:

  • how many public schools are in a 3 mile radius of the proposed compressor site?

    There are 13,255 +/- students, 33 mostly public schools

  • how many daycares are in the 2 mile “evacuation radius” and incineration zones of both the pipeline and compressor?

    66

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ONE MORE THING: I learned how to officially ask for an appointment with the Governor. I had already attempted by email a couple of months back, but was ghosted once I said it was about the compressor, LOL. I went down to the Governor’s constituent services office and placed my request. Got a smile and a nod, “thank you for your interest”.

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#SitWithAndrea #PolitePersistence

Day #15

Busy, blustery day! Flew into the Governor’s waiting room to find my co-sitter of the day, Dianne G. She brought letters from herself and a family member who lives in the Incineration Zone. Dianne lives in the evacuation zone.

I brought more research/paperwork than I intended to, but Jon Chesto’s little piece in The Globe today was packed with informative links.

On the lighter side of things, Chesto’s piece referenced Laura Krantz’s piece mentioning everyone’s action regarding Baker, including my sit-in.

On the heavier side, the links in the story took me to worrisome places: the description of the start of a pro-natural gas campaign (“[to] work with key stakeholders and constituents to encourage implementation of a long-term state energy strategy”), and an Eversource investor conference call transcript. I read the whole transcript. Holy crow. When reading things like this, I have to remind myself that these calls are meant to make big investors feel confident regardless of the realities on the ground.

There are still many things mentioned in the conference call transcript that give me great pause, like continued lobbying to New England Governors, and mentions of getting legislation passed in Massachusetts to enable their needless proposed natural gas infrastructure. Lobbyists are in communication with elected officials every day, which is why I sit every day.

#SitWithAndrea #PolitePersistence

Day #14, two weeks

Some nice guests from Hingham joined me today, Kathy and Peter S. They found out about this action via South Shore Action.  I talked their ear off about the Weymouth compressor proposal, and thank goodness they had a lot of questions. I tasked them with going back to Hingham and telling more friends and neighbors about the effects the proposed compressors would have on Hingham’s quality of life. They left a note to Gov. Baker and I forgot to ask what they wrote about. Great visit!

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Mary from State Rep. Murphy‘s office stopped by to support #SitWithAndrea. Mary and Rep. Murphy, the support means a lot!

Today I left a personal letter, asking for what I (we all) want Governor Baker to do regarding Spectra’s Weymouth proposal. I’m going to post that here and under the Dear Gov. Baker page. I also included a news story that featured an action he took that I really appreciate. It’s important to me that his office knows when a constituent is happy as well as scared/worried/upset.

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Dear Gov. Baker-

Here we are at day 14—two weeks! I have to say, your staff has been very welcoming and kind to me, I really appreciate it.

I’ve had a few people ask “what do you want, specifically?”, and they are right to ask. I haven’t made it crystal clear as of yet. Well, I’m fixing that today. I know the status of the Spectra proposal changes, sometimes in goal-shifting manner, (like the tolling order expected from FERC by the end of the week)… but as of right now:

  1. Please ask for Attorney General Maura Healey’s assistance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues in Sandisfield, Weymouth, Rehoboth, and Acushnet. Please support AG Healey’s efforts to uphold our constitution under EEA Article 97 Land Disposition Policy.
  1. Please direct the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to be more aggressive in getting Massachusetts to the goals set by The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 (GWSA) as these two agencies are beholden by law to meet “reductions from all sectors of the economy to reach a target of a 25% reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050.”  In May 2016, the MA Supreme Judicial Court upheld the GWSA and said that you and your administration had to work to get the state to adhere to the 2020 and 2050 goals. To meet these goals set by law, you must direct the EEA and MassDEP to enforce the regulations we have and direct them on the policy level to make new regulations to get us where we are supposed to be by those dates. Please do so, thanks!
  1. Please direct the course with the EEA towards a strict review of the Spectra Energy proposal in Weymouth. You could have (should have, if you ask me) directed the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to file for a rehearing with FERC.  But, since didn’t happen, please direct the EEA and MassDEP to take an incredibly close look at Spectra’s Weymouth proposal, specifically the Chapter 91 permitting as it pertains to Waterways and Wetlands.
  1. Please, comment on the FERC docket (CP16-9-000) regarding the Atlantic Bridge Weymouth compressor proposal: ask questions, or express concerns that reflect the any one of the six concerns EFSB had with the project (found in their Dec 2015 letter to FERC).
  1. Please comment on the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) docket. CZM is still taking comments during the stay even though the comment period is closed.  If you—your administration—commented, it would hold a lot of weight.  You cannot can’t tell them what to do, but you can sway them as Governor. Please seriously consider taking this action: Spectra’s Weymouth compressor proposal is not water-dependent and does not conform to CZM policies.

One other thing:
Please involve the fisheries and marine departments to look at the Herring runs, which originate right in the area the compressor is proposed. The state and the towns are putting substantial resources into the daylighting of the smelt run, taking down dams, and literally revamping the runs to benefit of fish (the presence of these fish have been historically important since 1648). Weymouth has the largest run in the state and upholds the fishing industry from Boston to the Cape. Vibrations, like what the compressor(s) will produce every day, have deleterious effects on marine life.

While I’m hopeful you are aware of this, I feel the need to repeat the following taken from Mothers Out Front’s website, about the thousands of gas leaks in the state:

  • The amount of gas in the new pipelines is much more than we need. Most of it would be exported, so we would pay for new pipelines and suffer the consequences of leaking methane while the utilities make a profit. We can manage without more gas. The pipelines are being built to cover peak demand times of only hours every year. The Attorney General’s report shows we can reduce and manage demand with conservation and efficiency. We don’t need new pipelines.

Please lend strength and support to these measures taken to reduce gas leaks in MA:

  • December 2016, Boston passed an ordinance that put additional requirements on gas companies when they perform gas leak repairs in Boston. Boston’s ordinance will be an example for action by other municipalities in 2017.
  • The Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which regulates the gas distributors and sets the rules for leak identification and repair, has issued draft regulations that address the classification and repair timeframes for both leaks that present safety concerns and leaks that have significant environmental impact. They are expected to publish the final regulations later this year (2017).
  • MassDEP published draft regulations that put limits on methane emissions from leaking natural gas infrastructure. They are also expected to publish final regulations later this year.

Thank you!

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On my way back to work, I passed by roadwork I’d passed by many times but I didn’t know what they were doing exactly. Turns out it’s a gas line. I hope it’s a gas line that was replaced due to old age and leaks 😉

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#SitWithAndrea #PolitePersistence

Day #13

Quiet at the office today. I brought notes about a senior, Mary, who lives in the compressor zone (can be found at HotIZ). I hope to gather more photos of seniors in the red zone for this week’s notes. I also included a custom Google map of the proposed pipeline and compressor sites. There are too many vulnerable populations in these Incineration Zones.

 

Below you can see a larger version of this map, or you can go here to view the live map.
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Last/least… the source of endless amusement for most of the tourists visiting the State House: The General Hooker Entrance. I think the State House has a sense of humor: “His [General Hooker’s] personal reputation was as a hard-drinking ladies’ man, and his headquarters was known for parties and gambling, although the historical evidence discounts any heavy drinking by the general himself.

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#SitWithAndrea #PolitePersistence