Day #36

Got a nice surprise ride to the State House today from my husband, who happened to be in town. I even got him to come sit with me! Mary P. of Weymouth also join me. She’s a champion Baker-sitter.

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Today’s note was about the NJ DEP, and how they rejected a totally incomplete application from PennEast, even though FERC “reviewed” the application and was just fine with it. FERC DOESN’T WORK.

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Regarding the Politico story headline: I find it a bit odd that getting rejected for not doing all of the required work is called a “blow”. It should be EXPECTED that your application would be rejected based on incompleteness. That’s how things work for the rest of us.

A NJ Senator put it quite succinctly: “PennEast can’t build this pipeline unless we [the State] let them”.

Enbridge cannot build the compressor nor the pipeline unless the state lets them. FERC is in a disarray right now, and it feels like states can take up the slack and do the right thing for their residents.

Say it with me again:

Enbridge cannot build the compressor nor the pipeline unless the state lets them


MASS RESIDENTS:
Write your letters to the MassDEP THIS WEEKEND. Easy cut/paste letters and information is available right here. Thank you!!

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Day #35

The sun came out! Happy dance!

Today I had a guest, Joanna M. from Braintree with her 5-year old son, Cal. We had fun 🙂 She brought her own letter and map that personalizes how her and her family’s daily routine is all around the proposed pipeline route and proposed compressor station. The yellow marks are parks they frequent, and Cal’s school.

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The note today was, I felt, a bit of a mess but really important. Becky H. found an article out of Roseland, NJ about a compressor’s scheduled maintenance procedure. The article was so ridiculous that it had to be printed and marked up. The kinds of things Transco is doing and saying to Roseland will be done and said to us.

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Of course, I fell down a rabbit hole of methane research (just a little) and ended up with the following (please excuse the handwriting and blurry pictures, I did this in a rush, as usual). The link to the Environmental Health study (above) can be found here.

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I mean, really! Energy companies get away with stuff like this due to all of us, from the Federal government on down, believing they have our best interests in mind.

ENERGY COMPANIES DO NOT HAVE OUR BEST INTERESTS IN MIND.

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Day #34

Good afternoon, everyone!

I had 2 co-sitters today: Mary P. of Weymouth, and Nathan Phillips. Nathan biked over from his workplace in the pouring rain–dude’s hardcore, LOL. We had a mini-meeting on the status of the SitWithAndrea action and the compressor project in general. It’s amazing what can get talked about in 15 minutes if you just sit together, ahem. (Victoria G. in the photo, a staffer in the Gov’s office, just passing by. It must be noted that the presence of someone’s feet in one of these photos does not imply support of my cause, LOL)

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Anyhoo, today’s note was all about how FERC lets energy companies misrepresent socioeconomic data to make it look like they’re not trying to site something in or near an Environmental Justice zone. FERC doesn’t even double-check the data! This issue has been brought into the light so many times, but it seems like no one in MA gov cares. A recent article from the Energy and Environment News reminded North Weymouth Town Councilor Becky Haugh about the same thing happening to Weymouth. More explanation in the letter below (some portions of my letter have been paraphrased or taken from Becky’s own words)

Dear Governor Baker-

Excerpt from the enclosed article, regarding determination of Environmental Justice (EJ) zones:

Benson argued yesterday that FERC relied on broader population data to determine that the compressor station was in a majority-white U.S. Census tract, rather than looking more closely at the majority-black community directly neighboring the project.”

This is EXACTLY the same thing that happened with the Atlantic Bridge Project. In Spectra’s Resource Reports, impacted demographics and income levels were reported using the data of all of Norfolk County – not just Weymouth & Quincy, nor just the direct abutting neighborhoods of the proposed compressor station (aka the “worse” data).

Norfolk County includes Wellesley, Needham, Brookline, etc. Very different demographics than Germantown, Quincy Point and North Weymouth. So the resource reports say the compressor station is going in an above-average income neighborhood due to Spectra/Enbridge using all of Norfolk County as its source of demographics.

This is unconscionable and points to purposely misdirecting the reader (and Federal and State agencies) to think everything’s OK around the proposed site. It’s not. This would be a completely different report if Spectra had used the data from the census tracks within 1 mile of the site, or even 3 miles from the site.

The fact that your administration is not making any challenge to the data presented, and consequently not doing all that can be done to protect vulnerable EJ areas that will be greatly and adversely affected by the siting of the compressor is inexcusable.

Sincerely,

Andrea Honore

IMG_1968Addendum: does anyone think that if a compressor was proposed for the kind of neighborhood Spectra painted in the resource report that the more affluent towns would be silent about it?! I mean, if this was proposed for wealthy Hingham (next door), Spectra would be shut down by now.

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Day #32

Hi y’all, I’m back from vacation, and back on the couch again! It was lovely to see my State House friends once more 🙂

I had 2 guests today from Mothers Out Front (MOF), a wonderful group fighting to protect children, communities, and climate here in MA, and across the country. Nina D. and Debbie N. joined me on the couch, with a surprise pop-in cameo from Rep Marjorie Decker. Rep. Decker saw the MOF tee shirts Nina and Debbie were wearing, and came in the waiting room to say “hi”. Rep. Decker expressed her full support of what I was doing, which means a lot, thank you! MOF also offered any support they could give me, which is a wonderful hallmark of their organization—so very willing to help.

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Part of today’s note was actually written by someone else, in response to the recent, abysmal Ask The Governor segment where Gov. Baker basically said “too bad, so sad” about the compressor. At least that’s what it felt like to all of us. Man, not one of us has the power of the Federal Government behind us but that doesn’t stop us from leading our communities and neighbors to fight like hell. If you could see what we see, which is the average constituent reaction to your lack of leadership in this issue… you would understand you are deeply disappointing folks right and left. More and more folks each day.

The letter I included in my note was written by Alice Arena, lead coordinator of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS), and the full, glorious text of which is below, with some links and notes added by me:

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOV. CHARLIE BAKER

The Honorable Governor Charles D. Baker
Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor
Room 280
Boston, MA  02133

Dear Gov. Baker,

I am writing to you today after having listened to your recent radio appearance on WGBH (April 20, 2017).  I had to listen to this audio multiple times in order to understand that you
a) do not know what a compressor station is,
b) do not know what a compressor station does, and
c) do not know the scope and purpose of your job as governor of the Commonwealth.

To that end, I would like to assist in your education about these—and possibly several other—subjects. From the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (heretofore to be known as FRRACS) FAQS sheet:

What is a compressor station?
“Compressor stations house natural gas fired engines, turbines or electric motors that compress or pump natural gas to move it through the system. Natural gas-fired engines and turbines burn a portion of the natural gas in the pipeline and would emit pollutants.” (from FERC booklet, What Do I Need to Know?) [Andrea’s note… watch this]

You referred to the compressor station proposed for the Fore River Basin as a “pivot point.” We who have been studying and fighting this battle for the past 2.5 years had no idea what you meant by that.  “Pivot point” is not an industry term.  It is not a term ever used by anyone that we have dealt with over these years.  A compressor station pushes gas along a pipeline in order to keep the gas moving to its intended destination.  In this case, its destination is Goldboro, NS Canada, where 70% of the fracked gas moving along this pipeline from Pennsylvania will be converted to LNG to be sold in Europe, Asia, and South America.  (I will be giving you a lot of facts here that I will not notate.  However, you can go onto the FERC website or our website at www.nocompressor.com  and get all of this information backed up by official documents.  You know, kind of like how you told us to take our issues up with someone else?)

I would like to find your statement of the Fore River Basin not being “virgin territory” humorous.  However, as a resident of Weymouth who has family in North Weymouth and many friends around the basin that is not possible.  The facts are that there are already seven polluting industries within one mile of this proposed compressor station.  Would you say that you are simply willing to sacrifice the health and lives of those in the Basin because it is already overburdened by industry and pollution?  Then have the courage to say it.  Do not waffle on this. We know what you mean when you say the Basin is not “virgin territory.”  Perhaps others of your citizens do not know what you mean.

I encourage you to visit our website, in particular, so that you can learn about what dangers compressor stations bring to the communities around them and to the planet at large. At FRRACS we state that this compressor station will bring health, safety, environmental, and economic dangers to our towns.  Again, too much information for this one little letter—go to the website.

As to item c) referenced above, this seems to be a pattern with your administration, but I will focus only on the matter at hand here; the compressor station in Weymouth and a host of other fracked gas infrastructure projects that threaten the health, safety, environment, and economic stability of towns in the Commonwealth.

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:
The 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.

Again, referencing not only our website, but the Resource Reports from Spectra Energy Texas (now Enbridge Canada), the air quality applications of the same, and far, far too many reports to list here, you will find that compressor stations are filthy emitters of raw methane and upwards of 38 volatile organic compounds—many of them carcinogens and most them regulated by the EPA.  You will also find that compressor stations are noisy.  The toxins and noise are present 24/7, with no relief.  So how does this conform to Article 97?  How does this conform to your oath to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth?

You were quick to pass the buck to our federal representatives.  Had you been paying attention, you would have known that Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Lynch have been petitioning FERC regarding the location of this compressor station for almost 2 years, to no avail.  Had you paid any attention to your citizens from Weymouth and many surrounding towns, you would have known that we actively petitioned YOUR office to assign to the Energy Facilities Siting Board the task of a motion for a rehearing on the FERC certificate as the EFSB had that right as an intervenor.  Instead, you ignored your citizens.

In your oath of office you promised to uphold the Commonwealth—of which its citizenry is the most important part.  How are you upholding us by refusing to even speak to us?  How are you upholding us by refusing to take a stand—one way or another—in reference to the proposed compressors in Weymouth and Rehoboth, in reference to the LNG holding tanks in Acushnet, in reference to the pipelines that will claim thousands of acres of Otis State Park and an entire pond therein in Sandisfield , in reference to over 100 miles of Enbridge pipelines that will traverse naturalized areas in Sharon and beyond?  By refusing to take any kind of stand and by passing the buck to the Federal level, you are not upholding your oath of office.

From the over 13,000 postcards and signatures delivered to your office on February 2, 2017 to a grueling anti-pipeline tax march in July of 2016 culminating at the Grand Staircase to the current one woman sit-in by Andrea Honore in your office (#sitwithandrea), you have consistently shunned your citizens.  You refuse to meet with individuals. You refuse to meet with groups.  I suspect that is only true for those you either do not agree with or who do not agree with you.  I suspect Enbridge’s lobbyists have no problem getting a bit of your time.  A recent article in DeSmog blog sites your mentor, Bill Weld, as one of those lobbyists.  The citizens of the Commonwealth know where they stand with you and your administration. You are making that very clear.

I would like to quote our District 1 Town Councilor, Rebecca Haugh, as a politician who understands her duties to her constituents:
Although I was only elected to represent District 1/North Weymouth my position is to speak out on behalf of those who chose to elect me to represent them – not to just sit back and let the federal government make decisions that will affect our livelihood every single day. I felt his statements today insulted those of us who have been fighting tirelessly for over two years even though we really have no say or clout. What is the big deal of just saying, “If the Feds want to do this, I want to make sure it’s being done in the safest way to protect the health and welfare of the Massachusetts residents who have to deal directly with the effects of these compressor stations”?

In the finality, Gov. Baker, what are you prepared to do?  Take a stand, sit this one out, or pass the buck?

We here in the Fore River Basin are prepared to fight this to the death.  And we will not stop petitioning you until you take a stand—one way or the other.

Sincerely,
Alice Arena
Lead Coordinator, FRRACS

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Day #31

It’s getting super busy in Boston: high tourist season, the marathon is on Monday, a lot of people out and about! My two co-sitters and I squeezed into the waiting room around a tour group. Joe C. (a new participant) and Mary P. joined me while I sat and as I dropped off my note to Constituent Services. Pretty uneventful visit, thank goodness. I am very grateful that Joe and Mary took time out of their day to join me, braving the crazy pollen levels 😐

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Today’s note was a transcript printout of last night’s Greater Boston segment on the Weymouth compressor fight. Weymouth resident Wendy C. found out about the segment from a cryptic tweet on Jim Braude’s Twitter feed. A flurry of tweeting and texting ensued and then we made sure we could get in front of a TV to watch. See the transcript and video at this link, or read below:

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“Cheaper gas”, are they kidding? Spectra wanted electric ratepayers to pay a massive amount of money to help them build their projects… how is that lowering any costs?

“Vetted by Federal regulators”? That consists of cutting and pasting Spectra’s numbers onto FERC letterhead. I. Just. Can’t. Even. Much less, the people at FERC who reviewed our project have conflicts of interest with Spectra.

By the way, Spectra/Enbridge is not interested in having their arses handed to them by informed “stakeholders” at meetings any more… they bowed out of a meeting in Hingham yesterday that would’ve allowed them to introduce the compressor project to a new set of residents in the town next door. Spectra, we are not fooled by your claims of being open to discussion. We’ve seen too much.

And, as for the “throughout construction” phrase: do you know something we don’t know? I doubt it. It looks good to your investors who must be getting jittery right about now. Don’t get ahead of yourselves.

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