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)
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.
Addendum: 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.