Days #203, 204, 205

I took a major break after day #202. I think it was almost 2 weeks, but with off-site Baker bird-dogging interspersed between days off from sitting in Baker’s office. I count the birddogging as sitting. It’s harder than sitting actually, way more stressful.

It was a busy couple of weeks:

September 30th, Betsy, Alice, Mike and myself were in Quincy outside a private event with our” When Will You Stop the Weymouth Compressor” signs. We’d literally rather be doing *anything but* stuff like this, but Baker leaves us no choice.

September 28th, FRRACS had the 2nd annual Fall Fest at Kings Cove Park next to the proposed site, and had Cardboard Charlie in attendance. That’s the closest Baker has ever come to the site (to my knowledge). The travelling Baker was part of a 350 Mass action.

October 2nd, Ed Markey visited the site which was the same day Nathan Phillips was the first compressor protester to be arrested (at DEP offices).

October 8th, Wendy and I waited outside a State House Hearing room for Gov. Baker to finish giving testimony on his big Housing Bill. Honestly, you’d think Wendy and I (who were recognized, of course) were waiting outside the hearing room with rocket launchers. I’ve never seen a human try so hard to sneak out of a room. The press was running around the back and front entrances to try to get statements from him. It was ridiculous. He snuck off with nary a comment to the press on his Housing Bill because Wendy and I were there.

October 10th was the absolutely useless PIP meeting regarding the toxic coal ash waste at the site. Link to the meeting video.

October 17th, Wendy, Alice, Nathan, Ross from Sunrise Movement Boston, and myself birddogged Baker at a cyber security forum at the State House where he was speaker. This is where I got my first threat of bodily removal from the State Police because they didn’t like where I was standing in a public building. I wish I knew more of my rights around stuff like this. I moved.

The cyber folks from across the state and country got an eyeful of Baker’s real legacy.

Day #201 & 202

September 26 & 27, 2019

Day 201, I took a breather. Didn’t bring anything.

Day 202, well, I had company! It was the end of Climate Week, and the Sunrise Movement Boston group has a planned occupation of Gov. Baker’s office, as well as other elected officials (DeLeo), etc.

Here is a video of their actions, and in the first part there’s me reading yet another speech. This was kind of a “back to basics” speech about the compressor, and I was very glad to be a guest speaker at their action!

Text of my speech is here:

My name is Andrea Honore, and I live in Weymouth, MA. I’d like to thank Sunrise Movement for allowing me to be a guest speaker at their climate action today! I’m going to talk about gas: existing leaky dangerous infrastructure, and new fracked gas infrastructure like the compressor being forced on Weymouth by Gov Baker and Enbridge.

EXISTING GAS INFRASTRUCTURE:

I woke up this morning to the news that, once again, parts of Lawrence have been evacuated around 3AM this morning due to a major gas leak from a brand new line replaced after the gas explosions last year.

Once again, people of Lawrence are without power and forced out of their homes into shelters.

Once again the first responders and residents are in harm’s way.

I cannot imagine the depth of fury Mayor Rivera must be feeling right now, but I can imagine the terror the residents feel.

I grew up in Southern California. I was in my late teens, early 20’s when the big earthquakes started to happen: Whittier, Northridge. Those disastrous earthquakes seemed to strike around 3 and 4am in the morning. I will never forget being ousted from a dead sleep and thrown into immediate fear for my safety.

I do not want this experience for my friends and neighbors in Weymouth AND the Fore River Basin, but we will be guaranteed this experience if the proposed Enbridge gas transmission compressor gets all of its state permits.

Uncaring gas companies are allowed to do business in MA practically unfettered because of the Baker administration’s weak and understaffed regulatory agencies. Why does the state  continue to put us in danger for gas that’s killing us and our environment when better and cheaper energy alternatives exist?

What about Gov Baker’s wind project, now stalled by a fossil fuel friendly federal government? Any benefits from Baker’s wind energy (if it gets built) will be smothered by methane emissions from MA’s ancient leaky gas infrastructure AND 8 new fracked gas projects slated for MA. Did you know that unburned methane is 86x worse for the environment than burning coal?

NEW GAS INFRASTRUCTURE

Wait. There’s more than one new gas project coming for MA? Yes! I have a list here of the  8 new projects*, including the Weymouth compressor. BTW, a compressor is placed along pipeline infrastructure push the gas along the next stretch of pipeline. They are also one of the most polluting and dangerous parts of gas infrastructure.

With all of the data out there on the wide varieties of danger from gas, WHY is Gov Baker’s administration still paving the way for new fracked gas infrastructure? Cities like Brookline are on the cusp of rejecting gas altogether!

There is still time for ALL 8 of these projects to be stopped, but there has to be the political will to do so.

HOW DID I GET HERE?

Now that you have a basis in the gas landscape of MA, let me tell you what I do and why I do it.

For over 2 years, I’ve sat in Gov Baker’s waiting room almost every afternoon during my lunch breaks, for about 15 minutes each time. Today is another day of me waiting for him to wake up and say

Today is a good day to listen to the thousands of residents, hundreds of medical professionals, Municipal/State/Federal elected officials, 100 municipal Boards of Health representing 3,327,603 MA residents, and say NO to any new gas infrastructure in MA.

Wouldn’t that be great?

LOL, this is day 202 for me. Nothing has gotten better for us in Weymouth, Quincy, Braintree, and Hingham. We are fighting our own state to get this compressor killed for almost 5 years, spending money and sanity we can ill-afford to lose.

Residents of the Fore River Basin are terrified of this project. We have 2 environmental justice zones, veteran housing, elderly housing, nursing homes, daycares, a mental health facility, and 6 schools with a combined 1700 children in a little over a mile radius. Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility have written THREE reports on the public health and safety dangers the compressor poses.

But it doesn’t make a difference to Gov Baker!

Gov Baker wants this gas transmission compressor to be built, and he has bent the will of his agencies to make this happen. He is the only one who can stop it, but he won’t.

THE COMPRESSOR PROJECT AFFECTS MORE THAN JUST WEYMOUTH

State approval of this project would mean MA would become a fracked gas superhighway for gas from the Marcellus Shale region of PA. The human right abuses occurring at the hands of the fracking companies against the residents will only increase if this compressor is put in. Enbridge’s dormant project, Access Northeast will roar back to life, adding bigger pipes at higher pressures through 23 towns and cities, as well as another compressor (!) in Weymouth and one in Rehoboth. Last but not least, it would add a huge gas storage facility in Acushnet.

WHY does Enbridge want to do this to MA? Enbridge wants to increase gas production in PA, run it through MA up to Canada, to be sold for export overseas and Gov Baker wants to help them.

One last note on the Canada portion of this: The Mi’kmaq people of Nova Scotia are fighting a company called Alton gas that wants to store gas on their sovereign lands, under their sacred waters. They have been watching and waiting as long as we have because the gas from the compressor would feed the Alton Gas project. We are all connected.

In closing…

GOVERNOR BAKER:

Summon the best side of yourself, understand the data doesn’t lie: this compressor is the wrong project in the wrong place in the wrong century. Please immediately direct DEP to deny further permits, direct Coastal Zone Management to make a negative determination and KILL this project once and for all!


*EIGHT NEW FRACKED GAS INFRASTRUCTURE projects slated for Massachusetts as of Sept 27 2019

  • Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s “Upgrade Projects” to expand the Agawam compressor & add a new section of pipeline
  • Tennessee Gas Pipeline and Columbia Gas collaboration for a new metering station in Longmeadow
  • Columbia Gas “Reliability Plan” for Greater Springfield and Northampton Service Areas with infrastructure impacts of new pipe in West Springfield, and expansions in Springfield, Agawam and Longmeadow
  • National Grid’s Lowell “modernization” pipeline
  • Liberty Energy Trust’s Charlton LNG liquefaction and trucking facility for energy peak now and future transportation
  • National Grid on the Cape. The project would consist of 3non-contiguous segments of natural gas distribution pipeline, approximately 13.1 miles in combined length. The three segments would run through the towns of Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, and Harwich, Massachusetts.
  • EverSource Hopkinton/Ashland Transfer Line Replacement, a pipeline through Article 97 Ashland State Park wetland, courtesy of the aforementioned weak regulatory process Gov Baker has encouraged
  • Weymouth compressor, courtesy of Enbridge

All of these projects still have a chance of getting killed but only if Gov Baker decides to do it, and directs his agencies to follow existing environmental protection laws.

Day #200

September 25, 2019
What can I say about Day 200, other than “why is this project not dead yet?” What can we say every time we reach a new anniversary, big round number or anything similar related to this terrible proposal?

Anyway… I was joined by some steadfast allies helping Weymouth and the Fore River basin:

Here is a livestream video of me reading our collective demands on Governor Baker regarding the compressor project. Here is the text:

What would you do to save your home, Gov Baker? How hard would you fight?

Those of us who live in the Fore River Basin area and beyond are doing everything we can to save our homes and health from the Weymouth compressor project. You have blocked us many times during the last 5 years. You have done everything in your power to play both sides of the issue: keeping your connections and donors happy by not opposing the compressor project publicly, and ordering token studies and reviews to keep the compressor opposition at bay. But the studies and reports never appear, or are deeply flawed, while state permits are approved. This must stop NOW. 


I’m here on my 200th day sitting in the Governor’s office–during Climate Action Week–to read an urgent list of 4 demands regarding the compressor:

1) Immediately direct your state agencies to use existing Massachusetts laws to deny the remaining state permits. You want to hear the laws you can use to help stop this project, and void the air permit? I have some laws for you – this list does not include all of them:

310 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 9.12 – the compressor is not water dependent as Enbridge claims. The state can reject the compressor siting using this law. 

310 CMR 9.02 – Under oath, Enbridge admitted that the compressor did not have to be near the water or even next to a Metering and Regulating station.

The compressor does not have to be at this dangerous coastal location as Enbridge’s claims are false. The state can reject the compressor siting using this law.

310 CMR 7.00 –  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.

The state can reject the compressor using this law as the gas compressor will do all of the above.

2) Halt the current alteration of the site at 50 Bridge St as the soil and vegetation are toxic. 

50 Bridge St site should have been a superfund years ago. The health risks to site workers and surrounding citizens from the disruption of this soil are unacceptable. The substrate that Enbridge plans to dig into for the compressor is toxic by every standard, and includes unknown quantities of diesel fuel leached from an 11 million gallon tank. Any alteration or clearing of the land should be investigated by Department of Public Health. Why are they clearing parts of the land? Where has the cleared vegetation gone? Did the workers know what toxins they were working with?

The current draft Remediation Abatement Measure from Enbridge via TRC calls for the disturbance and removal of 15K tons of toxic soil, thus allowing arsenic to the air and the waters of the Fore River. The soil is made of almost 100% coal ash, clinkers, burner bricks, and other industrial waste from decades of use. Any plan that Enbridge proposes must be audited before being finalized.

3) Find truly independent sources to conduct the public safety and climate resilience studies promised in in Gov Baker’s July 14th 2017 letter to Mayor Hedlund before any pre-construction or construction starts on the site, and any further permits are issued.

4) Order DEP and DPH to retract the incomplete and incorrect Health Impact Assessment and complete a new, peer reviewed HIA with recommendations for environmental clean up of the Basin. 

________________________________________

Directed to Governor Baker in the following comments:

Not sure if you remember how many of your constituents oppose this project? Do you remember how many elected officials at all levels of Massachusetts government, how many Boards of Health, how many first responders and emergency managers, how many health professionals oppose this project?

Not sure if you saw the large Sunrise Movement banner unfurled in the State House on Global Climate Strike Day (last Friday)? It said: No Weymouth Compressor. No Weymouth Compressor was also on their list of demands addressed to your administration. I hope you saw that.

Not sure if you heard the chants outside and inside the State House on Global Climate Strike Day?

“Gov Baker, do your job” 

“No compressor, no way”

“Where is Charlie?”

I make you this promise: Those of us fighting this precedent-setting gas project are not going away. We’ll continue to fight you and your state agencies to protect our homes, our families and our health.

What would you do to protect your home, family, and health? We know what we’d do.


Those opposing the compressor aren’t going anywhere, in fact you will see more of us than ever.

It took almost 5 years, but Weymouth has never been more supported and the movement is expanding each week. You thought I was “brutal”? Just wait to see what thousands of MA residents have in store for you, Governor Baker.

Day #199

September 20th, Global Climate Strike Day!

Weymouth came to Boston, and we represented. I am counting this as a day spent raising awareness, which is what I do in the gov’s office (I hope).

During a lull in action at the State House, I decided to ask folks if they wanted to know about my sign. Resounding YES.

So I spoke. I spoke about Gov. Baker, I spoke about what DEP and DPH and MAPC have done to enable this horrible project. They got it, and were not pleased.

Gov. Baker, you may think I am brutal, but there’s a reason I have been #brutal to you.

You are doing wrong.

And more and more people know it.

From a Sunrise Movement promotional video, :14 seconds in.

Day #198, First Contact

I sat this day (Sept 19th) and brought something I never turned in to Constituent Services because…

because

because

I got off the couch.

I wrote things down before I forgot. Thank goodness, the incident was so short, I could remember with 95% confidence. Say what?

Here goes:

Events can sometimes fall into place to create a specific moment where everything or nothing could happen. I had one such moment Thursday, September 19th. I’ve been sitting in Gov Baker’s waiting room 15 minutes every work day to call attention to the thousands of people who oppose the Weymouth gas transmission compressor project. On the day of my 198th lunchbreak visit, something happened.

So many times I have sat on the waiting room couch, facing the inner office door, and he’ll cruise by on his way out of the office. Most of the time I say hello, or good afternoon and he is polite enough back to me. No fireworks. I don’t get off the couch and follow him… at least not until Sept 19th.

Why did I follow him? Maybe because I was inspired after helping host the wonderful Dr Sandra Steingraber, and, also, being super-tired apparently tamps down my fantastic anxiety. It must have contributed to the lowering of my normal reserve?

Why did I follow him? Maybe it’s because I was concerned with the very real possibility all of the state permit for the compressor could be issued in early October 2019, and Enbridge can start moving on the compressor November 1st, per the draft RAM plan submitted by TRC, Enbridge’s environmental engineers, the proposal for the clean up of contamination on the proposed compressor site.

SIDEBAR: Totally not kidding that the plan is called RAM. It stands for Release Abatement Measure Plan. Tucked on page 27 of the draft Release Abatement Measure Plan from TRC was found this statement:

8.15 Implementation Schedule The anticipated schedule for the commencement of construction activities is November 1, 2019, with a September 1, 2020 in-service date.

How does Enbridge plan to undertake construction by Nov 1st on a contaminated site:

1.     Without having full state permitting

2.     Without fulfilling first the public comment period that currently ends on October 15th with the answers to those comments due on November 15th?

3.     Without the final Release Abatement Measure Plan?

4.     Without your promised public safety and risk evaluation reports as well as the coastal resiliency report?

The only way I can think of is if there’s continued, tight coordination/collaboration between Enbridge, Energy and Environmental Affairs, and Department of Environmental Protection. (shrug)

Disclaimer: I’m not publishing this experience here because I want a pat on the back or to feel brave. I’m writing this to hopefully mitigate any retaliation that might come from my having the ovaries to talk to him. It’s happened before to a friend deeply involved in the compressor fight, and luckily the person’s boss told Baker’s people to feck off. Ultimately all this mini-drama means nothing if the compressor gets built.

Back to Thursday, to the best of my memory:

Gov. Baker came out of his office with two of what I’m assuming are his executive protection unit (EPU). I said Hi, he looked back over his shoulder and said Hi, and I had my guard down just enough to squeak out:

“Can I please talk to you?”

Too late to back out now.

His EPU said he’s busy, they have to go.

I don’t know how to tell you what it felt like to get up off that couch to follow him to the elevator for the first time in 198 days. I was uncertain as hell, and definitely worried about doing it.

I stood with the three of them as they waited a couple of seconds for the elevator. The door opened and they got in, Baker in the back right corner with the two EPU covering him. I immediately moved to take a step in, and the EPU very nicely blocked me.

I looked at him and said “I can get in this elevator” (like, dude, it’s a public building, I’m not a physical threat, etc.)

Baker said “Let her in.” He’s looking at his phone.

I stepped in the elevator, scooted around the EPU to stand on Gov Baker’s right side. I gently put my hand on his upper arm and said

“What’s it going to take?”

He looked up from his phone.

He looked me in the eye and said:

“You have been so brutal to me. I have nothing to say to you.”

Not having any kind of plan for a case like this, I popped back, sort of shocked:

“You’ve been brutal to us!”

I went a little blank here for a couple of seconds, but I think he went back to looking at his phone.

I try again:

“Sir, when will you follow the laws?”

At this point we are approaching the first floor. The elevator dings and the door starts to open. He looks at me and says:

“I am following the laws. You would like me not to, but I am.”

I silently stood at the back of the elevator, watched him go, and rode the elevator back up to the third floor. I stepped off the elevator car, spoke to the trooper for a couple of seconds, and then the weight of the past 3-5 months stress just landed on me all at once. All. At. Once.

I may have cried, um, quite a lot in front of the Trooper. I was quiet about it, and went to the ladies room to let it all fly. Gotta feel your feelings, folks. I got ahold of myself, went back to the waiting room to get my purse and jacket, and left.

I want to emphasize that what Baker said didn’t upset me. How he said it wasn’t threatening to me personally— it’s just that I had to follow him on an elevator after 198 days of him ignoring me and say these things at all.

Three initial reactions:

Well, hell, if you had talked to any of us about the compressor concerns in the first place, there would be no “brutal” behavior to be upset about. It was an easy fix. Still is.

I want to hear what laws your administration is following by approving the air permit. You’re certainly not following the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008.

I mean, sheesh, we can lay off, but you have to lay off first, Gov Baker. If you feel targeted, well, maybe there’s a good reason. We feel targeted, undermined, ripped-off, angry, sad, and scared. It’s not a great feeling, I agree.

A good start to the conversation that will never happen is to hear from the Baker administration exactly which laws they feel they are following, and we can show them exactly which laws are not being followed. Wonder Gov Baker has been mislead all this time? LOL.

On the eve of the Global Climate Strike, I will promise you:

We are not going away, Gov. Baker. Those of us fighting this precedent setting gas project are not going away.

What would you do to protect your home? We know what we’d do.

I understand this is only my rendition of the event. Take this recounting for what it’s worth to you. (Patriot Ledger coverage here)

Day #197

Sept 18th was a big day for many of us. Dr. Sandra Steingraber came from NY state to spend the day with us, and then speak at Boston University. I don’t know how I’ll be able to convey the depth of the day, so I won’t even try. Let’s just say that this woman has Seen Sh*t, Done Sh*t, and will continue to Make Sh*t Happen.

She visited the site, sat with me in the Governor’s waiting room, spoke with 4 elected officials, and spoke at Boston University. Here are a few pictures of the day:

Much, Much Much gratitude to Dr. Steingraber!! XO