Day #122 (late)

March 27:
I have been sitting on this segment from one week—and not responding—because of feelings I don’t understand, but I know the major feeling is disappointment. Here is the transcript, put together by 2 great folks who are similarly flabbergasted. As I learned from that time I got on the radio with Baker, these recordings disappear offline so it’s best to document them. Especially since Baker never talks about the compressor in public unless forced to.

Boston Public Radio’s Ask The Governor: comments on Weymouth Compressor Station March 21, 2019 (starts 1:00:50 ends 1:06:00)

Margery: Oh! Heather in Weymouth.

Jim: Hello Heather.

Heather: Hey thanks for taking my call. (Sure) So I have a question about the compressor station—proposed compressor station—in Weymouth. It’s my understanding that there are Mass laws on the books to stop the compressor station and if there are why aren’t they being used to protect well over a hundred and fifty thousand citizens of Massachusetts?

Jim: Thank you, Heather.

Baker: Thanks for the question Heather. The compressor station is really fundamentally… its regulated under federal law it’s under FERC and FERC has a series of standards that have to be met. Some of which involved things like air quality and coastal zone issues and wetlands issues and safety issues and a whole host of others.

NOTE: FERC takes applicant data, copies/pastes it into a report & calls it done. NO analysis is done on proponent’s data, no independent testing to check veracity of data. The proponent’s design/pollution output data is always changing, & Enbridge never has to resubmit!

ANOTHER NOTE: Coastal Zone Management issues are under MA control.
Louder for those in the back:
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT IS UNDER MA CONTROL
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT IS UNDER MA CONTROL
COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT IS UNDER MA CONTROL

And we have, under federal law, the authority to implement, or to do the work that’s associated with a couple of those, one of which is the air quality issue and we wrote up an extremely broad and comprehensive air quality test—so broad and comprehensive that we and the attorney general needed to settle with the folks who were building the compressor station on the terms of how broad and comprehensive it could be.

I must interject here that the HIA & air testing is insufficient. Read @gb_psr‘s HIA rebuttal. Just read the HIA itself, p109 /The review was conducted in an expedited fashion so cannot be considered a systematic or comprehensive review/

We issued the results of that air quality test several months ago. There’s an appeal mechanism that’s available to people who want to appeal this in federal court and they can do so, and if based on that appeal it’s determined that there’s something that we did wrong or we didn’t do right with respect to that people can pursue that too. But in the end here our role is fundamentally to operate under federal law and the federal rules associated with this.

😐
Weymouth’s spent over $1m over 4 years fighting this compressor. Untold thousands have been spent by citizens fighting this. WHY do we have to do the lifting/bear the burden when the state has laws that can protect us?

If you haven’t noticed, the Federal Gov. is 💥 & right now’d be a GREAT time to assert state’s rights & follow MA laws. No one’ll slap you down for that, @CharlieBakerMA, & it will hold in court

And I get the fact that this is a concern to people in Weymouth. I get that.

REALLY? Surely you understand it’s more than Weymouth?

And I’ve talked to a lot of the electeds and to locals down there who I know and we are committed to doing everything that we are supposed to do under federal law to deal with this issue and if we get something wrong, you know, I hope people point that out to us, but we are trying to do here is ensure that the work we do can meet the test that it’s required to meet under those federal statute.

😲🤯
Under Fed law these days doesn’t mean much @MassGovernor. Time for you to get DEP in hand, use MA laws and protect us! Federal “statutes” are garbage, & getting worse. You’re OK w/garbage for MA, especially when MA/the world is grappling with climate issues and methane is a major contributor?

Marjorie: Governor, here is what I don’t understand about this. I know that there’s federal law that rules a lot of this but every time we have you on for months —  the email lights up, the phone calls with people that are beside themselves over this compressor. You have 14 legislators, you got Bob Hedlund down there and Quincy’s and mayors of Weymouth and Braintree.

THANK YOU FOR SAYING THAT, MARGERY!

Baker: Yep

Margery: People are beside themselves and they are the people that live there and they’re afraid of it and I get it. So I don’t understand why the state can’t somehow stall or something because it’s clear that the people that are going to be most impacted are beside themselves.

Baker: Well the reason we developed a really comprehensive and broad approach to the air quality test that we were supposed to put in place was specifically to make sure that we went to every length we possibly could to address that issue and we went to such a great length that we got taken into court by the folks who are interested in putting the compressor station there and had to settle with them on how broad and comprehensive it could be under the federal law which is something we did in conjunction with the attorney general.

PINOCCHIO ALERT

WHAT.

@CharlieBakerMA, you called for an HIA 7/14/17. HIA didn’t start until 6/2018. It was underfunded, used Enbridge’s data, & wasn’t given enough time.

From ForeRiverHIA.com

And I get what people are concerned about which is why we went so far as we could on that particular issue.

No. You don’t get it. Not. Even. Close, bud.

But in the end this is, you know, regulatory policy and a lot of infrastructure gets driven by federal rules and federal law.

The thing I don’t understand about this one, I’ve never understood about this one: is why when this whole process was playing out way back when before the decision was made, there really wasn’t much conversation, as far as I can tell, between the commonwealth and the federal government over this decision. The only time this conversation started was after the feds picked the place. 

Good question, if you haven’t been following anything at all. Deep breath…
Spectra/Enbridge TOLD us and FERC where they wanted to build. Feds did NOT pick this site. Proponent gets what they want, always, that’s how FERC (doesn’t) work. THIS IS WHY assuming Feds are right is so dangerous for all of us. States have rights! Use the laws!

Jim: If you weren’t the Governor, but were a citizen living in this catchment area, would you be on the same side as Heather? Based on what you know—not the law—but based on what you know?

THANK YOU FOR SAYING THAT, JIM!

Baker: I can’t…I can’t.

I have a job to do here. My job is to uphold the laws. Okay? And to implement them to the best of my ability. I have…

What I will say is that the whole reason we have appellate processes around these types of decisions is so if people are violating the rules there’s a vehicle and a mechanism they can pursue, and I met with personally have met with the local officials down there and I know people who live down there who talk to me about this whole time.

-deep deep breaths-
The courts shouldn’t be the answer. @CharlieBakerMA your DEP must do protect the environment & not Enbridge. So far DEP has protected/enabled Spectra/Enbridge & ignored the environment & laws. Latest example of choosing Enbridge over legitimate issues:

Margery: That is the voice of Governor Charlie Baker he’s with us until the top of the hour taking our questions and you are listening to 89.7 WGBH Boston Public Radio.


SIGH.Have I mentioned lately that it’s exhausting for all of us to keep trying to convince Baker of the bloody obvious?

Honestly, Gov. Baker is so ill-informed about this project and the whole process, it hurts. HE has all the tools to enforce Massachusetts’ environmental laws and he’s NOT doing it. Why put MORE of a burden on citizens fighting this by saying “Well, you can sue.”?

WEYMOUTH & CITIZENS HAVE BEEN IN COURT FOR YEARS NOW. And we aren’t fricking made of money, you know.

Gov. Baker, your DEP is busy handing this compressor to Enbridge as I type. Do you even know that? Every ounce of their decision making is skewed towards Enbridge and not actual environmental protection. I must remind everyone:

AS GOES ANY DEP DECISIONS, SO WILL GO THE CZM DECISION.

COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT (CZM) cannot make a determination until DEP has. And whatever DEP does in terms of granting permits, CZM will take into consideration. The likelihood of CZM “going rogue” and not falling in line DEP decisions is tiny. I hope I’m wrong because CZM is the final answer on all of this. If CZM says no, FERC, Enbridge, Spectra can say nothing about it.

Day #121 (late)

March 22
I brought in the remaining EFSB letters I referenced in Day #120.

I feel like I must make sure to turn every piece of information in to Constituent Services like I’m turning in evidence in a court case. Even though I know it’s all going into a black hole.

Day #120 (late)

March 21st
Oh, what a day for head shaking, head scratching, and mind blowing.

Gov. Baker was on Boston Public Radio yesterday afternoon, and by the grace of Jim and Margery a compressor question was allowed on! Heather, whoever you are, THANK YOU!

I wasn’t listening live, but holy moly, did I hear about it. I was able glean a little bit about what Baker said, and I tailored my document submission to one of his points. I will cover my response to the rest of Baker’s answers from the Ask The Governor show on Day #121 (today, LOL)

Baker: what I never got was while this whole process was playing out (way back when, before the decision was made) there really wasn’t much conversation (as far as I could tell) between MA & Feds over this decision, after the feds picked the place.

Is this a good question? Only if you’re not paying attention, and your people aren’t paying attention.

#1, Spectra/Enbridge TOLD us and FERC where they wanted to build. Feds did NOT pick this site. The proponent gets what they want, always, that’s how FERC (doesn’t) work. THIS IS WHY assuming Feds are right is so dangerous for all of us. States have rights! Use the laws.

#2, Enbridge chose the site in January of 2015, the same month Baker was inaugurated. Baker’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) held a community meeting in Weymouth on May 27, 2015 to discuss community concerns about the project. The transcripts are here:

EFSB has been the one state agency that understood clearly and urgently the troubling problems with this project at this site, as well as wider-ranging impacts on the state. In short EFSB is the polar opposite of DEP. The following files are letters EFSB sent to FERC, starting June 11, 2015

As you can see, EFSB was exemplary in their assessment of this project. And it all went nowhere. Why? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My action at the Gov’s office was triggered by lack of action by the Baker administration… when taking action would have been the easiest thing to do. What kind of action? It’s laid out in North Weymouth Town Councilor Becky Haugh’s letter to EFSB.

From Becky’s letter:

I am writing to respectfully ask the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to consider officially requesting a rehearing to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on its January 25, 2017 decision to approve the Atlantic Bridge project (Docket CP16-9). The deadline for filing is this Friday, February 24, 2017. 


The EFSB hosted a public hearing on the Atlantic Bridge project at the Abigail Adams Middle School in Weymouth, MA on May 27, 2015 where hundreds of Massachusetts residents came to voice their concerns of the Atlantic Bridge project. 
On November 13, 2015, the EFSB filed a motion to intervene on the Atlantic Bridge project. I’m respectfully asking for your consideration to file a rehearing request based on the fact that your agency submitted comments to FERC on June 11, 2015, June 18, 2015, June 22, 2015, July 24, 2015, December 21, 2015 and June 1, 2016 in regards to the Atlantic Bridge project and FERC did not properly address all of the concerns and questions that your agency diligently brought up. 
Furthermore, the FERC decision to conditionally approve the Atlantic Bridge project violates conditions set forth by your agency for the proposed site in the February 11, 2000 EFSB decision (EFSB 98-7) to allow a gas-fired power plant be sited on the same parcel located in Weymouth, MA and believe this issue needs to be addressed between FERC, the EFSB and the Town of Weymouth. 

All it would have taken was a phone call from Gov Baker to have EFSB keep doing what it had already started: advocate for the protection on MA citizens.

There was even a citizen advocacy action complete with emails, phone calls, letters to Gov. Baker asking him to have EFSB intervene with FERC so there’s NO WAY he didn’t know about his options for action. Right?

Days #118 & #119 (suuuper late)

March 19th and 20th
I attended a Senate-sponsored Citizens’ Legislative Seminar these two days, and sat in the Gov’s office during lunch break. I didn’t bring anything with me, so I don’t have anything to post. I do have a slight backlog of updates, but I’ll leave this post with a suggestion:

Contact your State Senator’s office to ask to be nominated for this great program! These are the folks from Sen. O’Connor’s district:

Day #117 (late)

March 15th, I was joined by Mothers Out Front at the State House to mark the Youth Climate Strike.

It was wonderful, and I am greatly appreciative of their visit with me, after attending the Boston Youth Climate Strike. I said a few words:

Thank you all for coming here today to support the global school strike for climate and Weymouth and the South Shore’s fight against the gas transmission compressor project.

Thank you, kids, for skipping school to come fight for all of our futures. I’m truly grateful for all of you!

Today is my 117th day sitting in Governor Baker’s office, off and on, since February 28, 2017.

I like to say that I’m not protesting, I’m waiting. I’m waiting here until Gov Baker remembers there are clean air, clean water, environmental justice and Global Warming Solutions Act laws his administration can use, and it would hold up in court. I’m a visible reminder that no matter what Gov Baker says in DC about fighting climate change, our Gov will be a climate criminal if he doesn’t use MA’s environmental laws to stop this project. I’m waiting here as a visible reminder that Weymouth will continue to fight this gas project until it’s dead. Thank you again for coming to visit me today!

Day #116 (late)

March 14:
Boston-based investigative reporter, Itai Vardi, has uncovered more disappointing news regarding Gov. Baker’s and MassDPU’s plans to hire folks with long-standing ties to big gas corporations that have a stake in this evaluation. Itai first raised the alarm in 2018 when writing about the company chosen to conduct the evaluation in the wake of the Merrimack Valley explosions.

The inappropriate nature of this company, and the people it has chosen so far speak to the layers and layers of conflicts of interest rife in the gas extraction and transmission industry.

WHY go to the gas industry to have gas infrastructure evaluated? Sounds like it would make sense, right? Ha, not so much. It’s rarely without conflicts of interest that would disqualify taking the job in any other industry.

The greater Northeast area is home to so many organizations and universities that could truly independently evaluate MA’s gas infrastructure, why try to sell us that Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc. is independent when they aren’t? What is DPU’s definition of “independent”? Is it like Mass DEP’s version of “required”?

How can MA residents expect to be able to trust any report from the Baker administration after the sham Health Impact Assessment laid on us in January?

Day #115 (late)

March 13th

I brought in an amazing (and at many points, depressing) document prepared by Weymouth Mayor Hedlund’s administration that outlines the steps taken to fight the compressor project since Hedlund has been in office. My annotated PDF below:

One of the things I highlighted in the PDF was EEA Sec Beaton‘s refusal to evaluate all of the segmented gas projects proposed for MA for their potential environmental impact. Almost 3 years ago (March 15, 2016) Mayor Hedlund asked Sec. Beaton for a MEPA review:

Mayor Hedlund again wrote to Sec Beaton on May 31, 2016 as no answer had been forthcoming:

Sec Beaton finally answered June 8, 2016, by publishing the Mayor’s request so that there can be public comment on it.

After over 100 comments via email, phone, carrier pigeon, Sec Beaton refused the review! FRRACS has the letter at this link.

I ask you, is this refusal the actions of an administration that cares about actual environmental protection and monitoring?

Mayor Hedlund’s response to Sec Beaton’s refusal:

I’m still not over this, and I did bring this subject up in the Feb 19th meeting with Sec. Beaton when we were talking about the large likelihood that Access Northeast would come back to life if the compressor is built. Sec. Beaton responded that “we only look at the projects in front of us, not what *might* happen”. I said you had the opportunity to respond when Mayor Hedlund asked for a MEPA review in 2016, and you refused.


I want to end this post on a nice note, since I’m all irritated now, LOL.

THANK YOU to Mayors Kay and Hedlund, and their administrations for fighting like crazy against this terrible project.

Thank you to Miyares and Harrington, Weymouth’s outside counsel for these 4 years.

Thank you to Joseph Callanan, Weymouth’s Solicitor.

FRRACS, Carolyn Elefant, and Mike and Lori Hayden also have my deepest appreciation. My gosh.

And thank you to the steadfast elected officials who know what’s right, two of which joined me yesterday! Rep Meschino and Rep Hawkins. Neither of these two represent Weymouth, but they know the dangers and they know the severity of the risks. Thank you!!

Day #114 (late)

What I brought in March 12th was more of a YYYAAASSSS! than a BOOOOO.

Gov Baker can do good things! Gov Baker can do hard things. Gov Baker can do groundbreaking-for-a-Republican things.

BUT

Gov Baker must first understand that new gas infrastructure is truly incompatible with meeting Global Warming Solutions Act emission goals before he can wear the mantle of climate hawk.

Day #113

31 days in my second “term” in the Gov’s waiting room. I had a visitor from my first term, Nathan Phillips! So good to see him again.

We had quite a bit of catching up to do, and we talked about being excited to attend the FRRACS 4th anniversary event tomorrow night

Date and Time: Tuesday, March 12th at 7pm 
Location: Fore River Clubhouse (16 Nevada Rd., Quincy, MA) – wheelchair accessible

When we first gathered as a small group in January 2015, we had no idea what to expect next. We knew we were facing a powerful industry equipped with buckets of money and influential lobbyists, but we also knew that we had to fight. We have learned a lot over the past four years and have grown in many ways.

-Everyone is welcome to come!

Today I dragged some news out of February I’d been meaning to read and bring in. An important issue pointed out by David Abel on one of Gov Baker’s climate recent climate strategies: only do one thing at a time for an issue that you MUST do more than one thing at a time.

I had to end that piece with my favorite cartoon ever by Joel Pett. I mean, seriously, people! SMH. (c. 2009)

I also brought letters to the Editor regarding this story. Both Letters have really important points:

MA can do BOTH emissions reduction AND climate change effects mitigation. BOTH. We only need to political will from our Governor.

Day #112 (late)

March 8th
I completely forgot to bring anything with me, heh.

I will leave this really important video here, though.

Some easy to digest data about why methane so bad for the environment, and where it’s coming from. Hint: it’s coming from fossil fuel use and extraction.

Dr. Howarth is the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is a biogeochemist and ecosystem scientist whose work includes the environmental consequences of energy systems, particularly from oil and gas development and from biofuels, emphasizing water quality and greenhouse emissions.