My apologies to my co-sitters, Betsy S. and Mary P., as I was running late today. Work is busier than normal. Betsy and I were on the same wavelength today on our notes as we both brought notes that mention how seemingly easy it is for Governor Baker to go up against the Federal Government when the issue has nothing to do with the siting of a compressor station.
A recent article in the Globe really got the goat of a Hingham resident today, and she blasted Baker in her Facebook post for taking the leadership role against the Federal government (where he “has no power”) on protecting health care in MA, while not taking ANY leadership role against the proposed compressor station. Soooo, that got me thinking. How about I re-write that health care article and start with inserting “compressor” in place of “health care”. Heh heh. That was fun.
Baker warns Algonquin compressor station proposal would harm Mass.
Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday came out against a proposed natural gas compressor in Weymouth that was conditionally approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier this year. The Massachusetts Federal delegation warned that permitting Algonquin Gas Transmission’s compressor would result in “a massive gain of critical air and noise pollution in the Commonwealth.” Algonquin is a subsidiary of Spectra Energy, now Enbridge.
Baker said in a statement he hopes FERC “reconsiders this conditional Certification,” and his top spokesman underscored the administration’s opposition the gas compressor which is up for State environmental permitting this year.
Baker also expressed thanks for the federal government’s willingness to grant the state flexibility in how it administers the environmental permits, which protect all citizens, especially the poor, elderly and disabled from polluting industries placing infrastructure in close proximity to humans.
And, Baker said, his administration will continue to protect residents by increasing pressure on Eversource and National Grid to fix thousands of existing gas leaks that would recoup gas needed during the ten days a year, on average, that Massachusetts needs extra gas to heat homes.
But his stance against the compressor again puts the Republican chief executive at odds with his national party and President Trump, for whom Baker has said he did not vote.
A running list of the stated positions of key representatives shows Senator Warren, Senator Markey, and Rep. Lynch immensely support denying Algonquin the environmental permits for the compressor station.
Several Republican elected State officials are also committed to keeping this compressor station out of the densely populated site at 6 Bridge Street in Weymouth.
In March, the governor had warned that an earlier attempt by Algonquin to push the compressor through MassDEP permitting would put a thousands of Massachusetts residents at risk of degrading their health, blow a million dollar hole in the Fore River Basin’s house values, and threaten the state’s commitment to the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) of 2008.
The GWSA requires Massachusetts to limit the greenhouse gas producing infrastructure it approves to be built in the state. Last year’s Supreme Judicial Court decision reaffirmed that Massachusetts was not doing enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The key mandate of the Act requires reductions of greenhouse emissions by 2020, a cut of 25 percent from 1990 levels. A recent study by the Acadia Center has shown that new gas infrastructure is incompatible with those goals.
Massachusetts has long been a leader in clean energy initiatives. Its sweeping GWSA of 2008 created strict climate goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases to improve the health of the state’s residents. Among its key components:
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.”
No elected officials support the compressor siting, including the area’s Reps and Senators. And any permit that clears the MassDEP or Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is likely to be radically opposed in court.
But, Baker is in a unique position.
Any decision made by Coastal Zone Management is federal-level, and CZM’s reach exceeds FERC’s jurisdiction. Governor Baker — and his Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary (EEA), Matthew Beaton — oversee CZM and thus could have a very strong effect on how the State environmental permitting goes.
The Baker administration’s analysis has found the Weymouth gas compressor would have a negative impact on residents, their health, and their house values.
The governor is expected to run for reelection in 2018 and already has Democratic challengers.
Here’s Baker’s full statement Tuesday:
“Our administration will continue to protect Massachusetts’ health by thoroughly vetting any application for environmental permits requested by known green house gas emitters. Massachusetts leads the nation in clean energy goals, and while the FERC has issued a conditional Certification to Algonquin for the project, the compressor would still result in a massive gain of critical air and noise pollution in the Commonwealth. In the meantime, I am thankful for the federal government’s willingness to work with Massachusetts to deliver better energy options to ensure we are meeting our Global Warming Solutions Act goals and I hope FERC reconsiders their Certification of this project that was made in haste without all of the relevant and correct information.”
Thank you to Joshua Miller for unknowingly letting me alter your article for my purposes.
**For those having to read my actual printout of the letter, sorry for the errors and typos. Blanket apology for infinity.
Last but not least: I put in an official request for Gov. Baker to visit the site. Judging by his words when describing the site, he’s never been there. There’s a public park and walking path that goes around the site right now. It’s not all sullied territory… and the residents within mere feet of 6 Bridge Street, Weymouth would be disgusted by the picture you paint of the area surrounding the site. VISIT THE SITE.