Day #108

Day 108, and also day 26 (2019 term). Heh.

Today I brought 4 articles from earlier this month regarding actions taken against a gas company by the Governor of Pennsylvania. The actions are notable for a couple of reasons:

#1 That any action at all has been taken against a gas company in PA. Seriously, that is a HUGE deal as PA has been subsumed by gas companies for over a decade. Unfortunately, something awful had to happen in order for PA to take action against the negligent gas company, but PA did take action.

#2 The PA DEP and Gov. Wolf stopped all permits for a pipeline. States have rights.

#3 Gov. Wolf asked lawmakers to pass legislation giving the state the power to regulate the routes and safety features of intrastate pipelines.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says Energy Transfer hasn’t complied with an order related to the recent explosion of the Revolution pipeline outside Pittsburgh, so it has halted reviews of new water crossing permits the company wants for its natural gas liquids lines Mariner East 2 and 2x.

Energy Transfer is the parent company of Sunoco Pipeline, which built the Revolution line and the 350-mile long Mariner East pipelines. The Revolution pipeline will also remain out of service until the company meets DEP’s conditions, the agency said Friday.

In September, heavy rains caused a landslide, resulting in an explosion that destroyed a house in Center Township, Beaver County. DEP’s investigation found the company had violated permit obligations, which included unreported landslides and erosion into nearby streams. DEP executive deputy secretary Ramez Ziadeh wrote to Sunoco that it had failed to comply with the agency’s order issued in October.

DEP says further investigations by DEP inspectors, most recently in January, uncovered continued violations of Energy Transfer’s erosion and sedimentation permits, a violation of the state’s Clean Streams Law.

“In October, DEP cited ETC for sediment-laden discharges into waterways, improperly maintained erosion controls, and failure to stabilize disturbed areas,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “Disappointingly, many of these issues persist.”

Gov. Tom Wolf called for the Legislature to enact pipeline reforms, and asked the Public Utility Commission to step up its oversight of Energy Transfer/Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline project.

“There has been a failure by Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries to respect our laws and our communities,” Wolf said in a statement. “This is not how we strive to do business in Pennsylvania, and it will not be tolerated.”

“Governor Wolf has called for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to take a series of long overdue actions to help ensure the public’s safety near pipelines, and he voiced support for new pipeline legislation in the General Assembly. I thank the Governor for his strong words today,” said Killion.

In January, Killion and Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, announced a legislative package of 12 pipeline safety bills.

“It is incredibly helpful that the governor is urging the legislature to pass pipeline oversight bills. Our bills will help protect families living in pipeline communities across the state. These are commonsense, bipartisan legislative proposals that ensure the public’s safety,” said Killion.

Gas companies are garbage garbage garbage:

Nearby residents worried over sinkholes along the Mariner East pipelines sued Energy Transfer last summer in federal court. Chester County’s district attorney, Tom Hogan, has said he is demanding documents from the company as part of a criminal investigation he said he opened last month.

GOVERNORS HAVE POWER

GOVERNORS CAN ENFORCE LAWS

GOVERNOR BAKER:

Use your power

Use the laws

Stop the compressor!


So, yeah, Gov. Baker doesn’t meet with individuals, right? Well, there was a nervous individual sitting outside Baker’s office today, across from me, waiting for his 1:30pm appointment. I wanted to ask him why he’s here (since he’s not an elected) but…

🤷🏼‍♀️

Well, I ended up asking why he was there as he kept sort of looking at me, and fidgeting and fidgeting. I would be nervous if I was about to meet with the Governor by myself, too. I asked if he was there for civilian stuff and he said yes. I said good luck (or something).

I notified Constituent Services that I observed An Individual Who Had An Appointment with Governor Baker and The Individual Was Not an Elected Official, Contradicting Previously Stated Policy About the Governor Not Meeting with Constituents For Any Reason Whatsoever.

You know, just because.

BEATON break – meeting docs

At this link

are the talking points and the data brought with us to the February 19th meeting with EEA Secretary Matt Beaton, Undersecretary Sieger, General Counsel Tori Kim, and Eva the Environmental Analyst.

With me were:

  • Alice Arena (FRRACS board member)
  • Betsy Sowers (FRRACS board member)
  • Margaret Bellafiore (FRRACS board member)
  • Lori Hayden (FRRACS member, and FRRACS lawyer)
  • Wendy Cullivan (FRRACS member and concerned citizen)
  • Dr. Brita Lundberg from GBPSR, one of the authors of the HIA rebuttal

If I had more brain cells to rub together right now, I would organize the docs, especially the pics of supporting docs… but I don’t. Sorry. Maybe later this week. PS: I didn’t have any talking points and data prepped because they are all on this blog.

REMINDER

I will be “out of office” tomorrow. Back on the couch Thursday and Friday of this week. See ya!


Day #107

Quiet Monday, except for the biting wind.

Gov. Baker is out of town, in DC at the Governors’ meetup. I think he comes back tomorrow?

I will be “out of office” tomorrow and Wednesday, so that leaves plenty of time for the Gov to do cartwheels in the waiting room 😆

Today I brought an article published over the weekend that had all of us rolling our eyes. I really don’t want to make light of the good that Governor Baker is doing by speaking out about climate change at the federal level, as a Republican. Admittedly, right now the bar for Republican behavior is very low at the federal level, so his advocation for action on climate seems amazing. It’s all about contrast, right?

Anyway, so far Governor Baker has said a lot of good things, made some good plans, and has even had some movement on the wind power initiative. His undoing is his continued support for new gas infrastructure.

His undoing is his disregard for MA’s Global Warming Solutions Act, whose greenhouse gas emissions goals will be unattainable if new gas infrastructure is allowed to be built in Massachusetts.

His undoing is his administration is just regard for existing climate and Environmental Justice protection laws.

Day #106 (late)

I was “out of the office” today (and may be again at some point next week).

Yesterday I brought some laws with me. I had help compiling these, and the explanations, and I thank those people whose writings I referenced for the below:

When I say MA has laws that should protect us from a project like the compressor, well, here are some.

The most fascinating part about this process so far is how DEP reads English way differently than the rest of us do, AND they make puzzling determinations based on these readings. (emphasis added by me with bold and underline).

Regarding water-dependency and the word “required”

Enbridge states that the compressor is a water-dependent thing. It’s not. No such transmission gas compressor exists on the planet. The town of Weymouth had to pay money to have that point proven. Somehow, in an alternate universe, the Hubline gas line was determined to be “water-dependent.” HINT: it’s not. So DEP is trying to say that because of some BS water-dependency that was agreed to years ago by DEP, that the compressor gets grandfathered that status (??) AND

310 CMR 9.12(1) states that all projects must be classified as water-dependent or nonwater-dependent.  However, the MassDEP did not make such a classification, because they said they did not have to once the compressor station was found to be ancillary to the existing Hubline.

9.12: Determination of Water-dependency(1) Prior to issuance of the public notice, the Department shall classify the project as a  water-dependent use project or as a nonwater-dependent use project. The Department shall classify as a water-dependent use project any project which consists entirely of:
(a) uses determined to be water-dependent in accordance with 310 CMR 9.12(2); and/or
(b) uses determined to be accessory to a water-dependent use, in accordance with 310 CMR 9.12(3).
Any other project shall be classified as a nonwater-dependent use project.
310 CMR 9.12(1) 

310 CMR 9.02 states that a facility qualifies as an ancillary facility only if the facility “requires an adjacent location” to the original facility.  However, the MassDEP did not agree the seven alternative locations, five of which were landlocked, meant that the proposed compressor station does not “require an adjacent location” to the Hubline.

A landlocked site doesn’t sound required nor water dependent, right? {heavy sigh}I

Regarding air/pollution:

The compressor station emissions will cause air pollution as defined in the regulation below, but the MassDEP again disagrees. There are peer-reviewed studies out there about compressor emissions, in fact, here’s one, from university researchers across the US.

OK, back to MA laws… the relevant MA regulation states:

AIR POLLUTION means the presence in the ambient air space of one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof in such concentrations and of such duration as to:
(a) cause a nuisance;
(b) be injurious, or be on the basis of current information, potentially injurious to human or animal life, to vegetation, or to property; or
(c) unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property or the conduct of business.
310 CMR 7.00.

Regarding Environmental Justice laws:

Environmental Justice populations are located within half a mile of the site, the MassDEP concluded that the compressor station emissions do not meet the necessary threshold to trigger a more detailed review in connection with the Environmental Justice populations. This isn’t Enbridge’s first rodeo, they know how to submit numbers that they know no one will check, and these numbers will pass muster.

The MassDEP has taken the position that, unless the compressor station emits more air toxics, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, the current regulations do not require MassDEP to provide any consideration for the Environmental Justice populations given the projected emissions of the proposed compressor station. So, basically, build the thing, and if people start keeling over, then maybe do something about it?

MassDEP and the governor’s office must give the Environmental Justice populations a heightened level of review given that the station will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

From the 2017 EOEEA Environmental Justice Policy

p. 4-5, “Working with … EJ populations, EEA will take direct action as part of the implementation of this Policy to restore degraded natural resources, to increase access to open space and parks, to address environmental and health risks associated with existing and potential new sources of pollution, to appropriately address climate change, and improve overall quality of life by

  • Enhancing opportunities for residents to participate in environmental, energy, and climate change decision making;
  • Enhancing the environmental review or new or expanding significant sources of environmental burdens in these neighborhoods; . . .
  • Ensuring that existing facilities in these neighborhoods comply with state environmental, energy, and climate change rules and regulations;
  • Ensuring that positive economic development that is consistent with environmental protections is a chief priority for EJ populations throughout the Commonwealth.”

HONESTLY. WTF. Follow the laws, follow the laws, follow the laws!


I also brought a letter with me from a 4th grade student in Weymouth, Savannah Lydon. I am including her letter with her mom’s permission. Beautiful letter, too bad Gov. Baker isn’t doing right by her so far. See the image below to locate the park she speaks of. The existing building is the MWRA sewerage treatment plant.

Wednesday February 13, 2019

Dear Governor Baker,

I am writing to let you know that I do not want the compressor station to be built at the Fore River Bridge in Weymouth. First, I think the compressor station should not be built in Weymouth because they could let out toxins and gasses that could pollute the air. During cleaning or repairs, the gas will pollute the air and ocean. I live close to the park they might put it in and whenever I want to go outside all I would be breathing in is the toxins and that would make me sick. 

The next reason I don’t want the compressor station to be in Weymouth is because there are lots of animals in the park they might put it in. The animals will lose their beautiful habitats. Also, birds will have to breathe in all of the toxins. I have a bunny and she lives outside and the toxic gasses will hurt her and that would break my heart if she has to go to the hospital. I strongly believe that the compressor station will ruin the landscape of Weymouth.

They might put the compressor station in a nice quiet park and then when I want to go to the park it will just be a big compressor station. I went to look at the park they might put it in and it is such a beautiful landscape. Why put it here? Why hurt us, your people?

Sincerely,

Savannah Lydon

Grade 4

Day #105

Today was pretty standard, with the addition of a phone call I thought was a spam call so I didn’t answer. I was surprised to see a voice mail. It turns out the message was from reporter Matt Reed from WCVB. Well, put on some lipstick, and get walking.

Matt tells Joyce and I that he usually covers murders and nasty stuff, and I told him I’m non-violent, and Joyce would vouch for me, as she did.

Interviewing is hard for me, and even though, or because of, all the knowledge I have so far, I still tend to freeze up. I apologize profusely for infinity to anyone who has to interview me.

Anyhooo.

As we are beginning to film, Gov. Baker comes out to the elevators to leave (behind me). I felt a profound sense of Jim Halpert’s reactions from The Office. Just that mix of silent face-shrug and the “I just don’t understand what’s going on over there” kind of feeling.

We continued with the interview, and it has since aired in WCVB channel 5 tonight. I don’t have a link, but hope to get one, fingers crossed.

Day #104 (late)

Wow, so much happening as of late, but still no end to the compressor which is the only thing that matters.

I had a nice visit from a Boston University reporter who has become very interested in this complicated, meaty story. Hopefully more to come from her investigations!

I brought tweet printouts with me to the office of these two tweet threads from Boston reporter Itai Vardi about MAPC’s FOIA’d documents. (FOIA = Freedom of Information Act).

MAPC didn’t take too well to the very real and earned backlash on the should-be-invalidated HIA. The MAPC as an entity should be a trustworthy partner to municipalities. This sham HIA (I mean MAPC was had!) breaks trust in so many ways. The story and the repercussions of the HIA is far from over.

Tweet thread 1

Tweet thread 2

Itai has done amazing work on the Weymouth compressor fight, and has uncovered so much that would make front page news, if anyone was actually paying attention nationally.

The big news of today, though, was the meeting with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton

Along with Undersecretary Dan Sieger, Legal Counsel Tori Kim, and Eva (didn’t get her last name, I hope to.) We met at EEA offices. Who is “we”?

  • Alice Arena (FRRACS board member)
  • Betsy Sowers (FRRACS board member)
  • Margaret Bellafiore (FRRACS board member)
  • Lori Hayden (FRRACS member, and FRRACS lawyer)
  • Wendy Cullivan (FRRACS member and concerned citizen)
  • Dr. Brita Lundberg from GBPSR, one of the authors of the HIA rebuttal
  • Me, from Charlie Baker’s waiting room

The meeting went as well as a 3pm listening session with an end-of-day Sec. Beaton could go. I did feel bad as I chose the time for the meeting. Lesson learned. There’s a great view of the State House from the EEA offices:

Sec. Beaton was 10 minutes late (prior meeting) and we only had 45 minutes by the time we were all settled. Everyone got to speak from my end, and we had a lot of data as back-up. I will have some reference materials that we brought to Sec. Beaton’s office available for everyone to read soon. We are still compiling the final docs. FINAL DOCS HERE.

The gist of it:

Massachusetts’ existing clean air and clean water laws, along with GWSA law, and Environmental Justice laws give ample legal muscle to denying all remaining permits. Baker and Beaton can deny this compressor, using the law, and it would hold up in court.

But will they follow MA’s laws? I know Beaton is on record as being for new gas infrastructure, so we definitely disagree on that, but surely we can all agree on the law?

And if they continue to NOT follow the law, ask yourself:

Why not?

After the meeting, we were met with WGBH (no link but the story ran the night of the 19th, and the morning of the 20th) and WBUR reporters. I have to tell you, FRRACS members have been to so many of these agency meetings over the 4 years (4!) fighting this compressor, and to be able to have any reporters care enough to show up after one of these meetings is so gratifying. This may be one compressor, but would mean bad things for MA and for the rest of the country should it be built.

If you notice in the WBUR report, Sec. Beaton said the dialog will continue. We hope for another meeting to follow up on the information presented on the 19th.

Here are FRRACS’ asks (we know what my ask is: no more permits!)

Wanna hear something funny?

Victoria, formerly of Gov. Baker’s waiting room reception desk circa 2017, is Sec. Beaton’s special assistant! It was great to see her again!

Day #103

On the way into the State House today, I saw these two little boys and their mother. They were holding a small #schoolstrike4climate protest. I just about died. I asked them if they would come up and sit with me in the governor’s office. They came!! This picture was the cutest of them 🙂

Mother gave permission to have her kids’ faces in this picture

These two boys dressed up to go protest (swoon!), and made their own signs! They got some candy from the Trooper at the desk outside the waiting room, and a quick tour of the State House balcony from the wonderful Joyce.

I’m so glad Veronique (hope I’m spelling this right) came up with her boys!


I didn’t bring anything with me today other than my friend CF. We did our sitting, made some friends, and went on with our day. Yes, I know you can see my shoes from space.

Day #102

Slightly more exciting day, although the motion-sensing lighting in the waiting room did turn off on us because it was SO QUIET in the office. Gov Baker has been out of town since Tuesday night, returning Monday.

A friend joined me to sit in the office today, and visit #3 from Rep Hawkins!

The House committee assignments came out today, and he was very happy to be on the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee. I’m glad, too. He knows what’s at stake.

Today I brought a late-breaking story from the Boston-based investigative reporter Itai Vardi.

A sample of the findings from open records requests:

Emails obtained by DeSmog from the MAPC through an open records request show that after a conference call with the agency’s lead investigator Barry Keppard in October last year, Enbridge sent Keppard several links to studies and data by environmental officials that raise questions about their credibility.

One of them was a study critiquing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard air dispersion model — written by an Indiana official named Keith Baugues, who has a history of climate change denial.

“Anyone who says ‘global warming’ is obviously suffering from frostbite,” Baugues posted on a government message board in the winter of 2014, following a bout of heavy snow.

After coming under fire for that statement, Baugues stuck to his position, telling colleagues “I am a skeptic on global warming.”

And it goes downhill from there. What other kind of sources do we expect from Enbridge, really? All data and sources are crafted not from reality, but from what it takes to get the infrastructure built.

This whole process is like the most poorly written farce ever conceived.

Day #101 (late)

Hi y’all! I have been unable to get to day 101 until now! Sorry about that.

Nothing much happened AND I forgot to bring anything with me to turn into Constituent Services. Ha.

Only thing of note: I have been notified that the Greater Boston (WGBH) segment that was taped earlier this week will now run NEXT week. I will make sure to post the link after it airs.

March 4th NOTE: the WGBH piece has not run yet! Hopefully will run next week.

Day #100

Today passed quietly , marked by a visit for the Vick M. from Clean Water Action who was delivering dozens of letters and postcards to Gov. Baker to take a stand against fracked gas infrastructure.

It was really good to meet Vick!

Today I brought two print-outs: the Gov’s DC climate speech

and MAPC’s statement on the compressor that popped up on the foreriverHIA.com front page over the weekend.

I made some notes on the PDFs, one of the most important highlights being:

Reasonable and fair-minded people could certainly debate the findings of the HIA, the adequacy of the scope, and the ongoing evolution of standards for compliance, but we remain comfortable that the conclusions of our HIA are consistent with the data we analyzed and the requirements currently used to comply with clean air standards in Massachusetts. 

The HIA used ENBRIDGE’s DATA to arrive at its conclusion.

The HIA used ENBRIDGE’s DATA to arrive at its conclusion.

The HIA used ENBRIDGE’s DATA to arrive at its conclusion.

Since the publication of the HIA, we have been asked if we support this natural gas compressor facility. The answer is that we do not. We base that opposition on the climate implications stated above, as well as ongoing public safety concerns. 

Pretty definitive, no?

From Baker’s DC testimony:

… we need to take a flexible approach that supports the innovations of tomorrow while acknowledging the role existing resources like natural gas …

Definitely! Start by forcing the utilities to fix the existing super-emitter leaks in MA. We all pay for that fugitive gas, and the unburned, leaked methane is way worse for the environment than burning coal.

As I mentioned, our local communities are already experiencing climate change impacts and are taking leadership themselves on this issue – our administration strongly values our municipal partners and has sought to work closely together on this challenge. 

Really?

Consideration of climate change emissions, vulnerability, environmental justice communities, and design standards that reflect a changing climate must be incorporated into any infrastructure legislation that is filed.

Yet all of that is being ignored regarding the Weymouth compressor proposal. Why?

In the Commonwealth, we strive to set an example by working to incorporate climate risk and vulnerability into all of our decisions whether it is through our statewide planning, bonding, policy development or grant-making. 

Really? And what about permitting?

Don’t forget that the 2008 GWSA Section 7 says:

SECTION 7. Section 61 of chapter 30 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, the following paragraph:-

In considering and issuing permits, licenses and other administrative approvals and decisions, the respective agency, department, board, commission or authority shall also consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts, including additional greenhouse gas emissions, and effects, such as predicted sea level rise.

Failing to account for climate change impacts like sea level rise and inland flooding will put significant assets at risk within their serviceable life span and may further expose already vulnerability populations and communities to increased risk. 

Please tell me you know where the proposed compressor site actually is? In a hurricane inundation zone, FEMA flood zone, and the existence of the compressor would exacerbate the very causes of such weather disturbances? Hello?

Governors around the country are seeing the effects of climate change in our states and communities, and we know that the decisions we make today will determine our ongoing risk and the well-being of future generations. But we also recognize the significant economic opportunity at hand to build a new clean energy industry, transform transportation, spur research advancements, and better design the resilient communities of tomorrow. 

SMH. The disconnect is a living, breathing entity at this point.