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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