I think today was the day Gov. Baker realized why I’ve been sitting on his couch. My usual “hey, what’s up” was met with some uncertainty. I chose to believe the reaction is because he just hates thinking about the compressor, and not because my hair is 3 shades lighter today (I got my hair done!) or he’s in a fit of pique about my not using an honorific when I address him… which, to be honest, I really should insert a “Guvnah” in there at some point.
Anyway, today’s note was all about permitting. We all learned on Friday that MassDEP ruled that not only is Spectra/Enbridge’s (S/E) removal of stay request not granted, but because S/E didn’t check all the boxes in their application the stay is extended. Kudos to the MassDEP for catching that, and acting on it. These are the kinds of actions we expect but don’t often get in state and federal permit review processes.
So, what does this all mean? I asked around as all of this mystifies me and I am not familiar with procedures like this. Basically Mass DEP said they are continuing the stay until either FERC or a Court rules that Federal Law trumps our local, Weymouth Conservation Commission’s (WCC) denial of Wetlands permit.
Well, FERC is in a pickle right now because there are only 2 members, not enough for a quorum, or to make any big decisions. Even if one to three FERC nominees were rammed through, it would take an estimated 3 months for them to be confirmed. Given the state of the White House, it’s anyone’s guess how this will ultimately shake out.
That leaves S/E having to sue Weymouth and see if a court of law will side with them on overturning the WCC denial of Wetlands permit—meaning they need to prove in court that Weymouth pretty much went out of their power to deny the permit. If S/E does take Weymouth to court and the court rules in favor of S/E, saying the WCC overstepped its boundaries, Weymouth is done for. One thing to note, S/E had months and months from the 2016 WCC decision to sue, but I (and MassDEP) think that S/E thought they’d get their ruling from FERC that our little WCC decision means nothing. Heh. We’ll see how this whole thing goes. Nothing is ever over until it’s O-V-E-R.
Also in my note, I included the wonderful denial of water, wetlands, and water protection permit that New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued on Friday, denying permit(s) to National Fuel Gas to build the Northern Access Pipeline, citing concerns about impacts on wetlands, streams, fish and wildlife habitat along the route. HUZZAH!! I thought it would be nice to show Gov. Baker what a denial of permit looks like, just as an FYI.
Another thing happened today: I went to see John T., the Director of Constituent Services today, after sitting. We had a nice conversation in which it was pretty much made clear that the Governor will never meet with me, a group with me, or the entire living cast of the original Star Wars with me. Actually, he’d probably have me escorted out while he met with the cast.
Gov. Baker doesn’t want to talk about the proposed Weymouth compressor.
Paraphrasing John T., the Governor has made his statement on the compressor (“it’s a federal issue” & “the state has a minor part to play”) and that’s that. Now, you and I know that’s a load of hooey. “The South Shore town contends that building a gas compressor across the water from Quincy contravenes the state’s federally approved Coastal Zone Management policy of promoting water-dependent industries in the state’s ports.
“It has to be a water-dependent use under that designation and we’re contending this is not a water-dependent use,” Hedlund told the News Service. Hedlund said the proposed compressor station is also uniquely situated in a densely populated area.“
If CZM rules according to their policies, a CZM denial stops FERC and S/E in their tracks. Governor Baker and his administration have a HUGE role to play in the proposed Weymouth compressor permit review process, and it’s about time they followed the Global Warming Solutions Act, aka The Law.
MA’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act’s key mandate, as reinforced by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in May 2016, requires reductions of greenhouse emissions by 2020, a cut of 25 percent from 1990 levels. More info here: http://bit.ly/AGOgwsa
Section 7 of the GWSA says the following: “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.”
New gas pipelines & compressor stations ARE NOT compatible with this mandate.