A right scorcher today! I tried to keep to the shady side of the streets on my way to the State House. I had a red-hot, Town of Weymouth press release and their 20 page Notice of Claim for a DEP hearing burning a hole in my bag.
This Notice of Claim is everything. It’s everything that Spectra Energy got wrong, everything that FERC got wrong, it’s everything MassEEA got wrong, it’s everything MassDEP got wrong. It’s a roadmap of how we all got here, and how ALL of our federal and state agencies have failed us so far.
//Weymouth Appeals State’s Waterways Permit Allowing the Building of the Nation’s First Waterfront Compressor Station in the Natural Gas Transmission System
Weymouth, MA – June 8, 2017 – Mayor Robert L. Hedlund announced today that on behalf of the Town of Weymouth he filed yesterday an appeal to the Department of Environmental Protection requesting a hearing on the recently issued Waterways license for a natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth. The 20‐page appeal lists nearly ten different reasons DEP should have denied the natural gas company’s request.
“We asked every Federal agency involved in the process to give us an example where they have permitted a compressor station anywhere near the ocean. None of them did,” said Mayor Hedlund. “I don’t know why Massachusetts wants to be the first state to put a facility such as this so close to the water a hurricane will flood it. No other state does,” Hedlund added.
Attorneys for the Town sent public records request last year to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Office of Fossil Energy, the Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability, the Energy Information Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Not one of these agencies identified a location or provided a map showing where they had previously allowed a compressor station in the natural gas transmission system near the water and subject to flooding during hurricane.
“FERC, who allowed this project to go forward, could not even point to an example where they had done that before,” said Hedlund. Agencies identified two compressor station locations that a hurricane may flood, but the closest to the ocean was five miles upstream on a river.
The natural gas company proposes to build a compressor station near the Fore River, and
within a Hurricane Inundation Zone. The area will be inaccessible during and after a Category 2 hurricane, and a Category 4 hurricane will completely submerge the site. “Hundreds of miles of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolina coastline suffered the effects of a Category 2 or greater storm just last year with Hurricane Matthew,” Hedlund added. Natural gas companies locate compressor stations, for example on the Gulf of Mexico, in the natural gas production system. Even FERC noted in its environmental assessment that compressor stations in the production system differ from compressor stations in the transmission system. “When commenters showed FERC the health effects of living near a compressor station in
Southwest Pennsylvania, regulators dismissed the health study. FERC replied that compressor stations in the production system are different than compressor stations in the transmission system,” noted Hedlund.
Another reason the Town argues DEP should not issue a waterways license is that the public has rights where the natural gas company plans to build. The land is filled tidelands or what is now dry land that in the past once was tidewaters. The public has the historic right to fish, fowl, or navigate in tidelands dating back to 17th century colonial ordinances.
“In Boston, when developers build on filled tidelands DEP requires them to provide public access such as benches, restaurants, walkways, or other public areas. DEP failed here to require the
natural gas company to provide any public access over 10 acres of public land. The state seems to be letting the natural gas company get away with taking credit for the public access requirements imposed on Calpine when its plant was built over 16 years ago. Weymouth gets nothing and they get to count somebody else’s public access requirements,” said Hedlund.
The DEP appeal Weymouth filed today is its second. Previously, the Town filed an appeal of a wetlands permit, which a hearings officer stayed. Weymouth also filed two lawsuits and is a defendant in a third. The Town filed a state lawsuit over the illegal purchase the Town argues violates local zoning laws. Weymouth also sued in Federal appeals court in Washington DC to overturn FERC’s approval. Finally, the natural gas company sued seeking to lift the DEP stay.
Enbridge, Algonquin’s parent company and formerly known as Spectra, proposes two pipeline projects that would affect Weymouth. Atlantic Bridge proposes to construct a new natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth. Access Northeast would expand the compressor station and construct in Weymouth miles of the largest gas pipelines in Massachusetts.//
None of the points mentioned in the following Notice of Claim are “reaching”, meaning these are all valid and important concerns, and must be taken seriously by the State. These point SHOULD HAVE BEEN taken seriously by the State long before this.
PDF of Notice of Claim here: Weymouth_DEP_appeal_2017
Weymouth submits that the Written Determination and Draft License and Special Conditions violates Chapter 91 and the Waterways Regulations at 310 CMR 9.00 for the following reasons:
A. The Department may not issue any Written Determination without a complete Chapter 91 Application from the Natural Gas Company;
B. The Written Determination improperly allows for issuance of the Final License before to the Natural Gas Company has demonstrated full compliance with M.G.L. c.111, §§142A through 1421 and the Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act;
C. Because the Natural Gas Company failed to comply with MEPA for the Compressor Station Project, the issuance of the Chapter 91 License violates 310 CMR 9.33;
D. The Compressor Station Project is not ancillary to a water-dependent use and is therefore a non water-dependent use;
E. Because it is non-water dependent, ·the Compressor Station Project is categorically ineligible for licensure;
F. The Written Determination and Draft License violate Chapter 91 by permitting the construction and operation of non-accessory facilities including underground utilities, a parking lot and roadway, and a stormwater basin or in other words, facilities that have not been found to be accessory to a water dependent use;
G. Even if the Compressor Station Project did qualify as a water-dependent use, the Written Determination and Draft License fails to provides the minimum level of public access required under the Waterways Regulations as the project will bar public access from the tidelands proposed to be altered and credits public access requirements of another entity for another licensed project. In other words, the Natural Gas Company actually provides zero public access, but suggests the Department double count the public access requirements the Department previously required of another licensed entity;
H. The Written Determination is insufficient to support a finding that the Compressor Station Project serves a proper public purpose that provides a greater benefit than detriment to the rights of the public in the tidelands;
I. The Written Determination and Draft License and Special Conditions impermissibly provide for a 30-year license term, which is almost 25 years longer than the Hubline’s License, to which the compressor station is allegedly ancillary.
Actually… this whole document is a highlight. It’s a must read.
If the State fails to act on all of these legally required points and issues MassDEP permits, what are we to think? The State hasn’t acted so far, so what does that make them? If Governor Baker ultimately doesn’t use his power to act against this, what does it say about him?
Let me put it this way: if I wanted add a porch to my house I’d have to go through so many application/permitting hoops before I could build. Everything would have to meet standards during the application process and building process, or I’d be shite out of luck. If I didn’t meet important standards at final inspection and got my porch anyway, what does that say about the departments in charge of permitting?
Because I so often forget to do this:
I would like to thank the Mayor of Weymouth, Bob Hedlund, and the Town Solicitor, Joseph Callanan, for their dedication and hard work fighting this project with everything they’ve got. A special thanks goes to Weymouth’s outside counsel, Miyares and Harrington, LLP, as they’ve been on the case since it began, over two years ago.