Day #74

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Today marks the last day of Action Week, and boy are my actions tired! Definitely need a little break over this long weekend. Today seven people joined me in the hallway (no signs in the waiting room). It was great meeting new people this week, and some of them had never been to the State House before. I was honored to give them the opportunity!

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I brought a note today as I just couldn’t resist.

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I printed my blog post about the Access Northeast project being withdrawn, a meme I made from a Zoolander still, and an article I saw today with a particular quote that made me L O L on the train this morning.

Here’s one last visual (made by FRRACS) to help everyone understand what happened yesterday, as it pertains to Weymouth:

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Have a great weekend everyone!

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HUGE news!

The story below is a great picture of what’s going on right now, with notes from me.

FYI: WE ARE STILL FIGHTING THE ATLANTIC BRIDGE WEYMOUTH COMPRESSOR PROPOSAL.

Lacking financing, utilities put $3 billion natural gas pipeline plan on hold

By Jon Chesto GLOBE STAFF  JUNE 29, 2017

Eversource and National Grid, the two biggest utilities in the state, are shelving a $3.2 billion natural gas pipeline project known as Access Northeast until they can find a way to pay for it.

Their partner in the project, pipeline operator Enbridge Inc., notified the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Thursday of the decision to withdraw the application for the project.

The companies argue that the pipeline expansion is needed to bring cheaper natural gas to the region’s power plants, particularly on cold days, when demand rises. But they need more time to build political support for legislation that would allow the costs to be shouldered by electricity customers.

In August, the state Supreme Judicial Court struck down a plan put forward by the Baker administration to have electricity ratepayers pick up the tab for the pipeline expansion, ruling it wasn’t permissible under state law. As a result, other New England states put similar proposals on hold.

[NOTE: my bold. Re-read that sentence… Gov. Baker put forth an ILLEGAL plan to charge us billions for a pipeline we don’t need, want, nor would we get the gas]

“Once we work through the legislative [support], we’ll be able to reengage the FERC filing process and be back on track,” said Brian McKerlie, a vice president at Enbridge.

[NOTE: Enbridge has to say stuff like this. They have shareholders to keep happy. The reality in the State House is much different. NO ONE wants this mess in Mass]

Access Northeast is the second massive natural-gas project in New England to be shelved because of financing problems. Kinder Morgan suspended a major pipeline plan last year.

Natural gas expansion has become one of the most hot-button issues in Massachusetts politics, with opponents fighting pipelines at every turn. Three smaller, previously approved projects — a proposed Enbridge compressor station in Weymouth, a recently completed Enbridge pipeline through West Roxbury, and a Kinder Morgan spur in Sandisfield — were not directly affected by last year’s SJC ruling.

[NOTE: Translation? We are STILL fighting the Weymouth compressor proposal]

McKerlie said the hope was to start construction next year on Access Northeast, a 125-mile project that mostly involves replacing pipes with larger ones in Massachusetts and Connecticut to expand the capacity of Enbridge’s Algonquin Gas Transmission line.

[NOTE: ANE also included a compressor in Rehoboth, a liquid natural gas (LNG) storage tank in Acushnet, and a horsepower upgrade to the theoretically existing Weymouth compressor that would more than double its horsepower]

In Massachusetts, the project would mainly involve municipalities west and south of Boston, from West Boylston down to Canton. Construction would have taken as long as three years. But now the timing is unclear.

McKerlie said Enbridge’s acquisition in February of Spectra Energy, the pipeline company that had been leading the charge for Access Northeast, had nothing to do with the decision to withdraw from the federal review process.

[NOTE: The delays caused by opponents of the Weymouth project figured heavily into this. The compressor is a year behind schedule]

Last year’s Massachusetts court decision was a setback for the two utilities, but they said at the time that they would continue to seek a way to pay for Access Northeast.

They say Access Northeast could reduce electric bills by as much as $1 billion a year across New England. They argue that a new infusion of lower-cost natural gas would more than offset the cost of a tariff, allowing power plants to burn gas on cold days, when that gas is often diverted for heating and isn’t available for making electricity.

[NOTE: NO.]

Critics argue that electricity ratepayers would see their bills skyrocket to help pay for the natural gas expansion. They say less expensive or more environmentally friendly solutions — more renewable power, for example, or liquefied natural gas storage and shipments — are available.

The Conservation Law Foundation, whose lawsuit led to the SJC decision, didn’t seem ready to celebrate on Thursday.

“It’s positive news [and] reflects that the region has moved on and natural gas is not finding the opportunities or the welcome that it expected in New England,” said Greg Cunningham, a vice president at the Boston environmental group. “We, however, expect there will be an ongoing presence of Spectra and Kinder Morgan at our state houses and interacting with ISO New England over the next year.”

Grid operator ISO New England, which is responsible for making sure the six states have enough electricity, remains concerned about the region’s increased reliance on natural gas as older coal-fired and nuclear power plants shut down. The utilities will play up that concern as they lobby for a change in state law that could allow Access Northeast to go forward.

“It’s clear that the New England ISO is gravely concerned about reliability in the region,” said John Flynn, a senior vice president at National Grid. “The need for this project is not in doubt. . . . Hopefully, we can get cooler heads to prevail and get the votes we need.”

[NOTE: Are you kidding me?]

The partners could find a tough audience at the State House. The Senate last summer voted to oppose any effort to pass on natural gas pipeline costs to electricity customers. House leaders could be more amenable, but dozens of rank-and-file members last year signed a petition opposing natural gas expansion efforts.

“That unanimous vote in the Senate last year, that’s a tough one,” said Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association. “I don’t know how you convince them. And frankly, the politics have moved more in that direction [of opposing natural gas].”

[NOTE: A “tough one”? Really? It’s what is right, safe, and forward thinking rather than backwards thinking]

Lee Olivier, executive vice president at Eversource, said the partners also need legislation passed in New Hampshire, but not in the other New England states.

“We’re in the outreach process, speaking with legislators and listening to legislators about what they would like to see,” Olivier said.

Olivier said the companies could go directly to the FERC to seek approval to charge electricity ratepayers but prefer to work with state officials first.

[NOTE: Thanks for the threat, but with FERC in shambles, you can go pound sand]

Typically, the costs of smaller pipeline projects can be passed on to residents and businesses that use natural gas for heating. But the Access Northeast partners say they prefer to spread the project’s expense over the much larger number of electricity customers in the region, instead of trying to impose it on the smaller group of gas users. The focus of Access Northeast, they said, is on providing fuel for power plants, not for heating homes.

[NOTE: Come one, now, we know the gas is for export, and we might get about 10% of the gas only when we need it. Maybe. However, according to one power plant, BELD in Braintree, they will NOT be getting the gas.]

Ian Bowles, managing director at WindSail Capital Group, said finding the right mechanism to pay for Access Northeast isn’t simple.

“I think more gas in the region is a good insurance policy as we make a transition to clean energy,” said Bowles, a former state energy secretary. “I don’t think it’s important enough that I want to subsidize it.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com.

IMPORTANT TO REPEAT, AGAIN: WE ARE STILL FIGHTING THE ATLANTIC BRIDGE WEYMOUTH COMPRESSOR PROPOSAL.

Here is the letter that Enbridge/Algonquin filed with FERC yesterday: 20170629-5214(32239168)

There are some whoppers in the letter, but I think you all know enough now how to spot them 😉

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Commercial break!

A great piece was written by Mr. Norton of the State House News Service yesterday. Check out the wonderful picture by Sam Doran and read the article via The Berkshire Eagle here.

I was kind of bummed only The Eagle picked up the story, but, hey, they are an awesome paper and have been super active in the Kinder Morgan fight. And they know a good story when they see it 🙂

Thanks again, SHNS!!

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Day #73

I have to start this post with some humor:

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Many states’ DEPs, and DECs have been rejecting energy companies’ applications lately due to incompleteness. Imagine that?! Who in MA has an incomplete application submitted right now? Bingo.

Officials and Governors in other states have been doing their best to stand up to energy companies, even when it’s not what’s traditionally done in that state’s history, like this statement from Molly Ward, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources:

“Attempts by Dominion Energy to sway regulators in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline permitting process prompted a top official under Gov. Terry McAuliffe to notify the utility that state agencies would not heed those efforts.

An April 19 letter from Molly Ward, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources, advised Dominion that state agencies involved in permitting for the proposed 600-mile line “will not base their decisions on requests or suggestions from an applicant.”

Is this mindset hard at work in Virginia? Ehhhh, not so much. Points for trying? 😛

Closer to home, Rhode Island’s Governor has just made a statement regarding the (rightly) controversial proposed Burrillville Invenergy power plant. This statement takes responsibility and models leadership. Her administration (especially her citing board), as well as her constituents, now know where she stands.

When asked for her reaction to statements by environmentalists that her stance on the Paris Accord — and the proposed Burrillville Invenergy power plant — are in conflict, Raimondo said she “regretted putting her thumb on the scale” when she appeared to support the Invenergy deal at its announcement.  

“I’m proud of my record on all that we’ve done to move Rhode Island further towards renewables and energy efficiency and jobs,” said Raimondo. “We’ve done so much with the wind farm and extending the renewable energy standards to community solar.”

“In Burrillville, we have to believe in the process. It’s out of my hands, it’s before citing board, that’s independent of me,” said Raimondo. “They need to take into account water safety, climate change — if they feel that the environmental concerns can’t be mitigated or outweigh the energy costs, that’s [their decision].

“In retrospect, if [going to the press conference announcing Invenergy coming to Rhode Island] created the impression that I was putting a thumb on the scale — then I regret that,” said Raimondo. “I am always anxious for folks to come here, companies to come here and invest here — I am so focused on that, now more than ever. I can’t peddle fast enough.”

So, on to the action: Today was busy! I’m so new to all of this, and changing my routine by adding people is really taxing my introvert side, LOL. Funny thing is, it’s kind of knocking the staff for a loop as well, I think. Change is hard. One of the Governor’s staff said he was used to me being by myself. I feel ya, Mark, but Weymouth needs some action. I promise we’ll be model guests.

Since we cannot have signs in the waiting room, Sharon from Weymouth had a great idea: people with “no compressor” tee shirts sat in the office…

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… and those of us without “no compressor” tee shirts stood outside the room with signs (for the most part)

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People from Weymouth, West Roxbury, Millis, Cambridge, Brookline, Mendon and Norfolk were there, about 20 people in all (4 of which were kids!). THANK YOU ALL!!

What do all of us want? What can Gov. Baker do?

1. Visit the site! Talk to residents who have been waiting 2.5 years
2. Make a public statement about the compressor
3. Privately signal to his Energy and Environmental Affairs agencies that they need to be very stringent in following their permitting policies and procedures. Spectra’s Ch. 91 wetlands application is deficient in NINE ways!

Call him: 617-725-4005

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Day #72

It turned out that 9 people came today! I’m so grateful for everyone who takes time out of their day to be with me for this very important cause. The people of Weymouth and the Fore River Basin thank you as well!

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Side note: I have a terrible memory for names, especially when in a state of high distraction, so please forgive me if I sound like I have amnesia if I meet you more than once and still don’t know your name.

I still don’t have any answers from the Captain of the EPU regarding what he’s OK with regarding the action, and how I can still make my point without getting thrown out. I’m not there to be disruptive because I won’t be able to come back and make my point day after day. I left another message for him with the trooper.

We all decided to sit without signs today, since I honestly didn’t feel like standing in the hallway. I’m lazy. It’s called “sit with Andrea” for a reason, LOL.

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As soon as we sat, a guy started taking pictures of us. Others noticed before I did, heh. Distracted, I was. Turns out he was from The State House News Service, and was there to take photos of me, us, and then he had another assignment directly after in the Governor’s offices.

Why was SHNS suddenly interested in this action? Um, I’ve been approaching Gubernatorial candidates to educate them about the compressor the past couple of weeks, shhhhh. Candidate Bob Massie learned about the project and visited the site first:

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Candidate Setti Warren did the same, with a site visit last evening:

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Mr. Warren made an announcement to the press yesterday that he would be making the site visit and SHNS picked it up. There were no reporters at the site, but the fact SHNS picked it up was great! Mr. Warren had an event in Braintree after the site visit, and he went and said this* (Twitter link). Well, that’s why SHNS wanted to talk to me. Woot!

With the cameraman gone, a reporter found me in the crowded waiting room (lots of other people there today), and asked to speak to me. I believe I made some sense, and gave some good answers. I’m getting better at this little bit by little bit 😉 Can’t wait to see the story (turns out he was already writing a story on the compressor and wanted to add me to it).

I’ll end this post with a lovely picture taken during Mayor Warren’s visit to the site yesterday:

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*Some clarifications, from me, about the main points:
Why is this Weymouth compressor project bad for MA?
1. MA will not get the gas, as it’s slated for export to Canada and overseas
2. Terrible, precedent-setting siting
3. Massive public safety hazard should a leak or explosion occur
4. 61k tons of pollution per year will be dumped into the atmosphere

What can Baker do?
1. Visit the site! Talk to residents who have been waiting 2.5 years for him
2. Make a public statement about his worries regarding the compressor
3. Privately signal to his Energy and Environmental Affairs agencies that they need to be very stringent in following their permitting policies and procedures

ADDENDUM:
This is overwhelming! And I’m so grateful!
https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-935638646371842048?midqs=2866822637798031360

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Day #71 (late)

Day 71 is day 2 of the increase in presence outside the Governor’s office. Day 1, five people joined me, and day 2 seven people joined me. Thank you to everyone who came from all over Eastern MA!

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One interesting note: The Captain of the Executive Protection Unit (EPU – State Police) is not happy with our signs. We can be in the waiting room, standing and quiet, but not holding signs. I left my phone number for the Captain to call me back yesterday so we can settle on the rules, but he hasn’t called me back yet.

It seems that Tee shirts with graphics on them are OK. I’ll keep everyone posted.

Time for some housekeeping:

For those of you who have never been to the State house, here is a photo of where I will be at 1PM: the General Hooker entrance.

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I will be holding up a sign that looks like the one below so you know where to meet:

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Day #70

Well. Day 70.

Seventy days our Governor has not spoken to me other than when I said hello to him as he walked by. In these seventy days, Gov. Baker has walked by me 5 times.

Things are going to change up a bit. It’s taken me long enough to move this action forward and bigger. All things change when we’re ready for them to, I guess.

Today marks the day that the #SitWithAndrea action goes bigger. See below:

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All are invited!

Bring 8.5×11 signs in your bag. My sign will read as follows, with the days counting upwards. My sign will serve as my note, unless something happens where I have to compile info to give to Constituent Services.

I think my grammar is off on this sign? 😀

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For the first day of Action Week, I had 5 kind people come stand with me, two of them are from Rehoboth! That’s a long way, and I greatly appreciate it!

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As we stood there, a tour group came through. They read our signs and two of the group wished us well. It was really great.

Look forward to seeing everyone!

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