Day #50

I had a double-header today, all during lunch break!

First stop was the MassDEP’s Boston office to follow up after another groups’ visit to the Lakeville, MA office yesterday. I was invited by the Mothers Out Front group to accompany them. I’d never been to the DEP, and was shocked to see how close their Boston office is to my work! 21 people from all over Eastern MA (including Hingham Residents Against the Compressor Station) came to support Weymouth in its fight against the compressor station proposal. Below is my statement:

My name is Andrea, and I live in Weymouth. As you know, my town is fighting the dreadful siting of a compressor station proposed for the most densely populated area in the US. That the DEP even considers the siting OK boggles my mind.

I’m partnering with Mothers Up Front today to let the DEP know that what happened during the creation of the Air/Noise permit letter is not OK.

I understand from speaking with people familiar with permitting processes (on the applicant and government agency sides) it’s standard practice that an applicant would communicate with DEP when they first submit an application.

I also understand that sometimes the DEP would follow up with an applicant to make sure the scope of the applicant’s project hadn’t changed, etc.

What I cannot fathom is the DEP handing the draft air/noise permit letter to Spectra’s air pollution contractor and lawyers saying “have at it”… which Spectra did, from Oct 2015 to Jan 2017.

Learning about Mr. Cushing’s actions with Spectra was not only infuriating, it was supremely depressing. Knowing what we know, how can any permit evaluation done by MassDEP be trusted?

Do any of you have kids? Do you know how it goes when, little by little, the balance of power in your house erodes away from the parent and to the kid? Before you know it, the kid is running the house, right, and you look around saying “how did this happen?”?

Right now Spectra is running your house, MassDEP, and I have to say that serving Spectra is not the function of your agency.

All the Energy and Environmental Affairs agencies and departments should serve the health and well-being of the people and the land. Ostensibly, MassDEP exists to protect the environment, not to protect and enable private, for-profit companies like Spectra Energy.

There’s “standard industry practice” and then there’s giving away your agency’s power. You have given away the balance of power to Spectra. Take it back.

Here is MOF’s statement, from a member’s Facebook page post.

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MassDEP’s 3 representatives listen attentively and answered questions, but mostly didn’t have much for us. We pressed them on why no one from DEP has gone to 6 Bridge St. to take an actual air sample rather than just modeling what it might be like. There was no answer for that.

We pressed them on how they plan to use the citizen-led air quality results and the Weymouth-commissioned air/noise test results. They couldn’t say whether those results would be given equal weight to the data that Spectra has provided.

I had to leave while the meeting was still going on, so that’s about all I know. Wait! DEP did say 1250 comments were received from concerned residents regarding the air/noise proposed permit letter. That’s HUGE. Thank you everyone!

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I went over to the Gov’s office for a bit to drop my DEP statement, and on my way out approached DOT Secretary Pollock, who was sitting on a bench talking to a man. I’m very uncomfortable interrupting people I don’t know while they are talking, but I did it anyway. I asked her if she was aware of the proposed compressor and its location. She said “yes’, and then immediately “that’s not my department”. I said, I know. I just wanted to make sure you knew about the location due to it being so close to the new Fore River Bridge. Then I bowed out, probably to her relief. I did give her my SitWithAndrea card, though.

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