A little something happened on the national stage yesterday, and it prompted a reaction from Gov. Baker. Another lukewarm reaction.
Not so with other Governors: California, New York and Washington Governors hopped right on the train outta Trumpville and towards the future. In my scrawling writing, I asked WHY NOT MA? Why is MA lagging behind on so many things when the state was once a leader, a great example?
Even though Massachusetts has the Global Warming Solutions Act, which is a LAW, it doesn’t seem to make any difference. It’s not followed nor enforced in any scale I can see.
Hingham (town next door) resident Jennifer M. encapsulated everything well when she wrote this op-ed for the Hingham Journal, which was published yesterday:
On Wednesday May 25, 2017, I joined over 50 Hingham residents at the base of the Fore River Bridge to protest the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station. As a virgin activist, I felt inspired by our neighboring Weymouth constituents who do this every single Wednesday and felt motivated that our fight has gained momentum and the attention of the press. I also felt extreme disappointment at our Governor’s continued lack of acknowledgment of this horrendous project.
As a review, Enbridge (formerly Spectra) is a major Canadian-based energy conglomerate that plans to build an 18,600-horsepower natural gas compressor station adjacent to the new $400-million-plus Fore River Bridge in North Weymouth. Aptly named compressor stations compress gas in order to send it further up the pipeline toward its ultimate destination. In this case, the compressor would primarily serve to send gas to Canada where it will be converted into liquid natural gas and exported to Europe for profit.
Compressors are known for their proven public safety, health, economic, and environmental hazards, and, therefore, are traditionally built in rural areas so as to mitigate the damage they wreak. The proposed Weymouth compressor station would be built in the most densely populated location ever in the United States. There are 930 homes within a 1/2-mile, while 3,100 children live or go to school within 1 mile of the proposed site; 13,000 children attend 38 different schools within 3 miles of the site. This location happens to also be directly upwind from Hingham. Our beautiful town of 22,000 residents will be downwind from a mammoth industrial machine that serves us zero benefits and that spews a toxic cocktail of chemicals into our air on a regular basis.
Sadly, while every single local official opposes this project, (including Hingham’s Selectmen, the Mayors of Weymouth & Quincy, our State Senators and Representatives, and our U.S. Senators), the Governor of Massachusetts has ignored over 13,000 requests from his South Shore constituents to protect us from these compressor risks. According to WCVB’s report yesterday, Baker’s spokesman once again stated: “it will be the Feds who decide whether a [compressor] plant is built [at 6 Bridge Street]”.
Baker, who has historically pled the fifth on contentious issues (remember the 2016 presidential election?), insists that the decision of this proposal solely lies in the hands of the federal government. This is 100% untrue. While the project has received a conditional certification by the controversial Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC], an agency often in media’s spotlight for its corrupt and self-serving nature, it still needs to gain four permits that are administered on the state and local level. Three permit-deciding agencies, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection [MassDEP], Coastal Zone Management [CZM], and the umbrella agency Massachusetts Department of Energy & Environmental Affairs [EEA] all fall under Baker’s wheelhouse. His public and data-backed opinion on the risks and flaws of this proposal could be enough to sway MassDEP, CZM, and EEA officials to deny these permits. While decisions of MassDEP could technically be overturned on the federal level, the Coastal Zone Management Act, our ace card, trumps FERC. If CZM denies this permit, the compressor project will be halted in its tracks.
In WCBV’s report, the state spokesman also stated, “the governor is committed to diversifying the state’s energy portfolio and reducing energy costs.” While the administration is skilled at delivering these generalized statements to appeal to broad audiences, I find it insulting that Baker’s staff is once again attempting to skirt the actual issue. This comment falsely insinuates that the proposed compressor station will positively affect Massachusetts’ energy portfolio. It absolutely will not. First, we don’t need the gas. As per many scientific studies, including Attorney General Healey’s 2015 Regional Electric Reliability Options report, Massachusetts has more natural gas than it needs thru at least 2030. Second, the gas isn’t for us. This natural gas is destined primarily for export to Canada and overseas. Third, the installment of the compressor would actually negatively impact our existing gas reserves. For example, the regular maintenance of the proposed compressor would siphon natural gas currently utilized by Braintree Electrical Light Department (BELD), forcing the company to either shut turbines down or use a more expensive, dirtier fuel, like diesel.
Regardless of whether Baker has the power to change the outcome of this project (he does), his constituents deserve his on-record support. Baker needs to wear the hat we elected for him and protect the rights of his constituents. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is historically known as a leader in our nation, particularly when it comes to clean environmental initiatives. In fact, Massachusetts was one of the first states in the nation to adopt a comprehensive regulatory program to address climate change when the Global Warming Solutions Act [GWSA] was signed into law in 2008. The approval of the Weymouth compressor station would directly violate GWSA’s key mandate, which requires greenhouse emissions to be reduced by 25 percent by 2020. Our governor has a moral and legal duty to oppose this compressor station. It is time for the Baker administration to stand up to FERC and big Energy and adamantly oppose a project that puts constituent needs last. I beseech more Hingham residents to share this opinion with Baker’s constituent line at (617) 725-4005. If you’re interested in joining the local effort, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our community deserves clean air and our voice is stronger together.
In the meantime, I will continue to fight this polluting, ozone-producing, asthma-linked, noise-generating, property value decimating, carcinogen-spewing industrial behemoth. I hope you’ll join us.
Co-founder, Hingham Residents Against the Compressor Station