Day #160/78

June 27th. I’m counting today as a “sit with” because WHY NOT.

It was one of those days. One of those days when you realize your tiny shred of hope was groundless, even though AG Healey is still paying close attention.

DEP’s Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild has not only made her recommendation for Enbridge, she’s made ridiculous requests (2 blowdowns per year, operationally unworkable for a compressor) and arbitrary/vindictive striking out of petitioner testimony as well (page 33, footnote). The decision PDF is here:

I mean, we aren’t dumb. We know all of the DEP permits will eventually be handed over to Enbridge. It’s been made very clear to us (AND the media) that Gov Charlie Baker and his DEP are participants in regulatory capture. We can only hope for justice in the MA courts, although Baker has packed the courts with his judges in record numbers since his election.

Meanwhile, the petroleum and gas ghouls have been putting out twitter ads, making celebratory tweets, and writing op-eds in our local paper. As I responded to one particular guy:

If you stopped slobbering over this ruling long enough to find out what the actual status was, you’d find that NO permits have been issued for this project. You’d also know that when permits are issued (we’re not naive) there’ll be a ton of court cases holding this thing up.

#truth

By the way, here is FRRACS’ response to the ruling.


So, what did I do June 27th? I skipped the Gov’s office—Baker is conveniently overseas right now, before a holiday week) I went to pay Elizabeth Warren’s office my first visit. 24th floor, yo.

Here what I left :

Dear Senator Warren and staff:

I know y’all are super busy.

May I please ask something of Senator Warren: would she please tweet a short thought about what’s happening in the Fore River Basin (pls see attached Globe story, 1)? I have emailed Darien, and he has said he’ll look into it, but I felt I also better follow up 🙂

It looks like Weymouth and the Fore River Area is going to get an air permit for the compressor shoved on us despite MassDEP lying to us, and then saying it’s no big deal that ambient air toxins in the area are already way over DEP/EPA limits. Even Maura Healey is edging towards involvement (pls see attached story, 2).

It would be immense for us in the Basin if Sen Warren was able to help amplify an ongoing injustice when the compressor fight is at a critical juncture. MassDEP Presiding Officer Rothchild issued her ruling on our air permit appeal yesterday, in favor of granting the appeal. It’s now in DEP commissioner Suuberg’s court to sign his approval… or not. (pls see attached story, 3)

Sen Warren’s involvement in this compressor fight has been invaluable and we need her again for as long as it takes to tweet.

Thank you for your consideration!

PS: I have been staging a sit-in off an on since 2017 at Gov. Baker’s office, and although I was successful at helping move him to action in 2017, I am hitting a 6’6” brick wall right now. Baker is the only one who is for this compressor, and he is the boss of the only agencies who can lawfully say NO to this compressor project. It’s been 160 days.

SitWithAndrea.wordpress.com

Hail Mary ask: would it be possible, at any time, for Senator Warren to sit with me for 5 minutes at the state house one day? I know the answer to this question but asking doesn’t hurt.

LOL, I know this is ALL the longest shot possible, but it never hurts to ask… repeatedly.

ONE MORE THING

Our always honest Mayor Hedlund had this on his Facebook feed as a comment on the DEP ruling:

Day #159/77

June 25th was a very busy day. I stopped by the Gov’s office earlier than my usual time, after this very well-attended Legislative briefing on the dangers of gas, from extraction point to use in our homes. It’s a short meeting, please have a watch.

The impetus of the briefing were the 100 letters from MA Boards of Health that Sierra Club of MA has gathered asking Gov. Baker to stop the rush to build new fracked gas infrastructure. Here are Mothers Out Front members delivering these letters to MassDEP Feb 7, 2019.

Notable figure: a little over HALF of the MA population is represented in these Board of Health letters. 3,327,603 people that Governor Baker gives not one f*ck about.

Gov. Baker, the word on gas is spreading in the State House, especially as it relates to the Weymouth compressor project, and what new gas infrastructure would mean for folks from PA to MA.

I have some photos from the briefing:

Speakers:

Steve Jones, MD, (retired) CDC from Sierra Club of MA

Madeleine Scammell, DSc, Associate Professor at BU School of Public Health

Ellie Goldberg, Mothers Out Front

Philip Landrigan, MD, Professor Boston College

Alice Arena, Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station lead.

(The bestest ever)

The room reserved for this meeting turned out to be too small to accomodate all of the staffers sent by all of the elected officials. As you can see from the meeting video, it was an amazing turnout, so grateful! Many thanks to the organizations and elected officials that made this meeting happen (Sen Comerford, Rep Sabadosa)! Here are some handouts from Mothers Out Front that staffers could take back to their boss to show how the officials could help:

And all this was just the MORNING of June 25th.


The afternoon of the 25th was eventful as well. A meeting was held to talk about the lack of a permanent air monitor in the Fore River Basin. The battle for a station has gone on decades, and is very personal to many who attended, especially Rep Mariano. With his permission, I livestreamed the meeting. Really amazing experience listening to the officials, their plans, stories, previous and current efforts and a window into how the legislative sausage gets made at the State House.

From citizen organizer, Mr Mullalley:

We packed the House Members Lounge.  Almost 40 community leaders from Braintree, Quincy, Weymouth, Randolph, Hingham, Hull and Cohasset — areas that are directly affected by the air pollution of the Fore River Basin — met with their State Representatives:  Mark Cusack (D-Braintree); Ron Mariano (D-Quincy); Tacky Chan (D-Quincy); Bruce Ayers (D-Quincy); James Murphy (D-Weymouth); and, Joan Meschino (D-Hull).  We were also joined by Fore River Basin State Senators Walter Timilty (D-Milton) and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth).  Also participating were State Representative Michelle DuBois (D-Brockton), who has a related Environmental Justice bill pending, and aides to Fore River Basin Senator John Keenan (D-Quincy) and Representative Patrick Kearney (D-Scituate).

At the meeting, both the legislators and community leaders expressed frustration with MassDEP’s failure to protect the air that Fore River Basin residents breathe.  We discussed the unacceptable levels of toxins in Fore River Basin air revealed by recent measurements and how our communities are overly afflicted by respiratory, cardiovascular and pancreatic diseases associated by air pollution exposure.  Disturbingly, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy have the three highest rates of diabetes in the entire state – over 8 % of the population.

It was agreed that we (the community leaders and the legislators) are allied and united in the goal of improving the air quality of the Fore River Basin.  We also agreed that an Air Quality Monitoring Station must be placed in the Fore River Basin to address our current situation, and that a proposed Compressor Station would make our existing bad air quality worse.

In the near term, Majority Leader Mariano suggested we use Representative Murphy’s House Bill 2909 and Senator O’Connor’s Senate Bill 1990 as vehicles to press our Fore River Basin Air Quality agenda.  Those bills aim to place an Air Quality Monitoring Station in the Fore River Basin.  Leader Mariano said he and the entire Fore River Basin delegation would personally request the Senate and House Chairpersons of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (State Senator Michael Barrett and State Representative Tom Golden) to move those bills to a quick resolution.  Leader Mariano welcomed our input, and Alice Arena’s in particular, on amending the bills in committee.  And, the Fore River Basin delegation believe that as united as they are and with the community leaders’ support, we will have success.

We also agreed we should continue to prepare for a non-binding public policy initiative for the November 2020 ballot calling for the enforcement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards in the Fore River Basin – that is, unless we are successful and our legislative approach renders it moot.  Michael Mullaley will work with the Attorney General’s and Leader Mariano’s offices on precise ballot initiative wording.  By law, such a ballot initiative cannot begin signature gathering until April 28, 2020.  Before then, our Fore River Basin legislators believe they can pass legislation to get MassDEP to finally protect the Fore River Basin air we breathe.  Should that effort prove unsatisfactory, we will then try a ballot initiative as additional ammunition to help our legislators get MassDEP to take action.

ALL IN.

UPDATE from June 27th:

Day 158/76

Trying to get back into the swing of things. I have to remind myself that even though my effort is hitting a 6′ 6″ wall, it’s important to keep documenting everything I find important.

Today I brought a new story from Itai Vardi, the bestest reporter in the east. One of the best parts of this debacle is meeting the fantastic reporters in the Boston area. I am eternally grateful for their work, none more so than Itai. He has been with the project since the beginning, and even though he shocks and sometimes depresses us with his findings, the findings are always valuable.

This story was about former Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and his slippery grasp on ethics. OK, he has no grasp. I wish I could laugh, but I’ll quote the old (unfortunately racist) Morrissey: “I wish I could laugh but that joke isn’t funny anymore.” Itai also had a short thread on Twitter that I think is worth reading.

TL;DR?

Honestly, There is SO MUCH messed up about the State level review of the project, people are having a fun time trying to grasp all the issues:


Something else happened today that makes my stomach turn. Like I said in my tweet:

That makes 2 EJ apts in evac zone, close to incineration zone

🔥

Gov Baker deserved to be protested at this event. Only because we all work and there wasn’t enough notice that we didn’t show up.

Been a long time since I did a foot photo, LOL

I used to be so disciplined!

Things have happened in such a relatively rapid succession I am having a hard time keeping up with my real life and my compressor life at the same time. But I’m not going anywhere, folks.

Last night was an awards ceremony in Newton and Gov Baker was accepting an award after making a short speech. I decided to attend, too. I got a totally cute dress from Savers, LOL, and put on some heels tall enough to make me 6′ or 6’1″ in case I was able to ask the Gov a question. Well, I didn’t get to ask.

Here’s what happened.

Got there for cocktail hour. A bunch of folks were holding protest signs for No Compressor, and many handmade signs targeting Baker. Awesome.

As I walked up the stairs to the event area, I could see the protestors out of the big windows.

I ran right into Ralph Child (Mintz/Enbridge attorney) as I was checking in. I was friendly. I wish I could be cold and haughty but I have no idea how to do that, LOL. Sparse attendance inside, but things got rolling a bit more after people got off work.

I ran into Frank from FRRACS and we talked. Alice was supposed to be there but she was feeling terrible/sick.

I didn’t talk to any other folks, really. We were seated in the dining area and I didn’t know anyone at my table. I don’t think EBCNE really checked the guest list as I shockingly wasn’t in the nosebleed tables.

I introduced myself to Katie Theoharides (the new EEA Secretary), and she was all “I know who you are” and had a moue of distaste she couldn’t hide. I told her I wasn’t going to make a fuss, I swore on my kids’ heads. She loosened up maybe 5% but I think she was basically grossed out by me. Who knows what she’s heard about me. It made me sad.

Before the dinner started, I saw Zach, Baker’s body guy, doing advance work. He saw me, I waved and then I motioned him to the hallway. I told him I wasn’t going to make a ruckus, but that I wanted to ask the Gov. a question.

What was the question, he asked. Will Baker kill the compressor using MA laws? Yes or no. I sat back in my seat.

Baker came in and went to talk to people at tables in a tight perimeter near the podium. I was in the back table, but in the middle. Baker gave the speech, people gave him a standing O.

I waited 3 minutes too long to get up and see if I could catch Baker outside. Excuses: I was exhausted, I had just had 5 days of no rest (tent camping, then a 5th grade camp chaperone) so I wasn’t on my game. I ran down the stairs in my ridiculous heels in time to get to the door, but Baker’s car was pulling away.

Zach was at the door, still, and was full of polite excuses. I said Zach, I need five minutes. I want my life back. I’m tired. I need five minutes. Zach really didn’t have much to say to that. He and I know it will never happen.

I AM tired. I am frustrated, but I am also wicked stubborn. Heh.

Sorry for the neglect

Been doing too much in my free time regarding the air quality plan hearing, and trying to catch up on home and family. Blog comes last, after this one, LOL: http://bluemassgroup.com/2019/06/theater-of-the-absurdep/

I left off at Day #152/70. I’ve done 153, 154, 155 (today).

So much has happened regarding the AQ plan hearing, but I honestly don’t think it will make a bit of difference as DEP regulations say they don’t have to take ambient air toxics into consideration before they permit additional polluters. WTF.

I went to a hearing at the State House for a little bit today to hand over my testimony and attachments in support of Senator Patrick O’Connor’s bill S.1319. My letter:

RE: Bill S.1319

Dear members of Joint Committee on Public Health:

I submit testimony in favor of Sen. Patrick O’Connor’s bill S.1319 that would add language to require the State to take existing ambient air quality into consideration before permitting additional polluters.

I have spent four days at an air quality plan hearing that knocked me sideways after finding out the MassDEP uses regulations from 1989 as their rule of thumb in reviewing air permits for polluters. The DEP won’t, of its own accord, take ambient air toxicity into consideration before adding more pollution so we rely on you to make this happen, JCPH.

High concentrations of air toxics exist currently in the Fore River Basin, but that makes no difference to MassDEP when it comes to adding more polluters to the area. That must never happen to any other community again. I say again, because I’m pretty sure MassDEP will approve this air permit, even after all the controversy.

Please see the attached documents for reference, especially the Cleaner Air Oregon Regulatory Reform Advisory Committee – Cumulative Risks and Background document. Other states are way ahead of Massachusetts. Let’s catch up, for all our sakes.

Attached:

1, June 10 2019 article by Chris Lisinski regarding DEP

2, Telling The Stories PDF presentation from FRRACS

3, Cleaner Air Oregon Regulatory Reform Advisory Committee – Cumulative Risks and Background

4, State House New Article: Healey says DEP “really bungled” compressor data


The compressor AQ hearing is closed as of yesterday.

Below are the Weymouth gas transmission compressor air quality permit plan approval hearings live-tweets to the best of my ability. SO much gratitude to Weymouth leadership & Solicitor, Miyares & Harrington, FRRACS, Morrison & Mahoney (Mike Hayden), Lori Hayden, Quincy. Hingham, & Braintree attorneys, the witnesses who no doubt lost years of their life on testimony prep, and supporters that came from all over greater Boston and western Mass!

May 15
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1128681963915812868.html

May 16
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1129015780031516672.html

May 17
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1129373363997171712.html

June 10
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1138070952166797312.html


Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild has until July 12th to hand her recommendation to DEP Commissioner Suuberg. Only with his signature can ANY permits be granted. This deadline was agreed to between MassDEP and Enbridge and is NOT a court order. Ms. Rothchild really pushed the original June 28th deadline during the hearing which was endlessly frustrating because it’s in Enbridge’s favor, not the people’s.

I’ll leave you with one more fun fact from the hearings and Itai Vardi’s research:

PERJURY

Who will do anything about this. The testimony everyone gave was “under the pains of perjury.” Will there be consequences?