Day #49

MassDEP’s allowing Spectra’s air pollution contractor and Spectra’s lawyers to have TWO rounds of edits to the Air/Noise Permit proposal letter is getting more widespread attention — as it should. I’ve heard that barring anything nutty happening to knock the story off the line-up, the press conference will be covered by Bill Shields of WBZ tonight in the 6PM hour.


Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station held a press conference at MassDEP in Lakeville today, and was joined by: South Coast Neighbors United (SCNU), Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS), 350MA Franklin node, 350MA South Shore node,  Mass Health Care Providers Against Fracked Gas, Quincy Climate Action Network (QCAN), and several other community groups involved with addressing the issues of fracked gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth. I was not there, but followed along on social media.

The full press release is here, and I’ve excerpted the 7 points/asks below:
During a press conference at the Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville, dozens of community groups and concerned residents throughout the state held a press conference at MassDEP offices to demand that:

  1. MassDEP revoke the Air Quality Approval Plan for Spectra’s fracked-gas compressor station and  issue a new air quality analysis be conducted by an independent  consultant.
  2. Make all Air Quality Plan comments available for public viewing by either internet or email access.
  3. MassDEP issue a new, independent review of the Ch. 91 Waterways Permit, which MassDEP has conditionally approved.
  4. MassDEP’s compliance with 310CMR7.01: General Regulations to Prevent Air Pollution and the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act: “to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation’s air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population;”
  5. Considering the unjustified access provided to Spectra during the air permit planning process, MassDEP shall accept a citizen oversight panel which will receive copies of all communications with Spectra Energy and will be invited to attend all in person meetings between MassDEP and Spectra Energy.
  6. If an Air Quality Plan is ultimately approved, that the Plan include additional testing, monitoring, and reporting requirements as requested by concerned and informed citizens.
  7. If an Air Quality Plan is ultimately approved, that MassDEP add a condition that Spectra must pay an independent entity to conduct a health impact assessment for the facility prior to construction of the facility. This requirement would be consistent with the wishes of citizens, policies adopted by the Mass Nurses Association and Mass Medical Society regarding health assessments for new gas infrastructure, and two bills in the state legislature which have been sponsored by dozens of Representatives and Senators.

Spectra’s air pollution contractor’s participation in the air/noise letter process seems to be DEP standard operating procedure. Any applicant could check with DEP to make sure they have all their numbers and data correct. And I could see DEP could following up with an applicant to make sure the scope of the project hadn’t changed, etc. What I cannot stomach is the DEP handing Spectra the draft permit and saying have at it.

What residents of MA shouldn’t have to stomach is allowing energy companies and their lawyers to edit permit standards to increase pollution emissions and reduce testing:
Comparing Cushing’s original draft approval document to the Spectra-revised and final one reveals the DEP had accepted many of the company’s edits. For example, Spectra increased the threshold for what will be considered a leak from a pipe seal, from Cushing’s original 2,000 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to 10,000 ppmv.

Spectra also removed from the original draft a requirement for the station’s initial compliance testing for sulfur dioxide (SO2), and PM10, which refers to small particulate matter. Both were edited out of the draft approval published online.”

According to the FOIA’d emails, it seems that from Oct 2015 until Jan 2017, MassDEP and Spectra’s air pollution contractor and lawyers have been crafting a way to approve the requested environmental permits for the compressor project. A government agency charged with protecting the environment is smoothing the way for a for-profit company to irresponsibly site the first of 2 gas compressors.


Quick note: Nathan P surprised me with a visit, so we sat and talked. Nice!



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