Dear Governor Baker

Letter #1

March 8, 2017

Why am I sitting in your office waiting room, every work day from 1:15-1:30pm?

I’m here because I’m out of ideas. I’m here because your administration didn’t urge the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a rehearing of the conditional certification of the Weymouth, MA compressor station before the February deadline.

That lack of action, combined with a consistent and glaring lack of communication and cooperation from your administration was humiliating and insulting. Your silence and inaction left us all speechless and deeply disappointed—not urging the EFSB do something so simple, so needed, and so grounded in EFSB’s own concerns really ticked me off.

Gov. Baker, you have ignored thousands of calls about Spectra Energy’s proposals, thousands of letters/postcards, thousands of names on petitions, hundreds of people marching to the State House last summer, and dismissed the concerns of callers on Ask The Governor on Boston Public Radio. You have abdicated any responsibility for action on behalf of your constituents, over and over, saying the final decision is a federal issue. It’s NOT only FERC’s decision.

You can urge the denial of the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) permit*. A CZM denial of permit would keep FERC from issuing further rulings to Spectra, like a Notice to Proceed (building). Spectra cannot ever construct this dangerously located compressor if they don’t have a CZM permit. The safety of the public must come before Spectra’s profits, but you’ve been ignoring the one chance Weymouth has at averting a massive public safety hazard.

You know who hasn’t ignored all of us, and agrees with our concerns? Pretty much every elected and appointed official representing the 25 towns** Spectra Energy wants to build in. From School Committee members to US Senators and Representatives, from Police and Fire Chiefs to Mayors, Town Planners, Town Councilors, Selectpersons, Attorney(s) General, Town Solicitors… pretty much everyone from top to bottom. These people know know that the gas is going north and overseas to places that will pay better money for it. They know that locking us into fossil fuel infrastructure for many decades is not the right move, especially since Massachusetts doesn’t need the gas. Even Senators Warren and Markey have taken time out of their busy schedules to go to bat for us.

So, I’ll be in your office every work day, not protesting, but WAITING. Waiting for you to stop supporting a for-profit business over your constituents. Waiting for you to stop ghosting Weymouth when you know that Spectra’s proposals are unprecedentedly poorly sited and extremely dangerous.

*15 U.S. Code Chapter 15B – The NATURAL GAS ACT15 U.S.C. § 717b(d)
“Except as specifically provided in this chapter [the Natural Gas Act], nothing in this chapter affects the rights of States under—
(1) the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.);
(2) the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.); or
(3) the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.).”

**The 24 Massachusetts towns with potential “Access Northeast” proposals:

Acushnet
Ashfield
Bellingham
Boylston
Braintree
Canton
East Freetown
Franklin
Freetown
Grafton
Medway
Milbury
Milford
Millis
Norfolk
Rehoboth (Attleboro/Seekonk will be affected as well)
Sharon
Shrewsbury
Stoughton
Sutton
Upton
Walpole
West Boylston
Weymouth

Letter #2

March 21, 2017

Dear Gov. Baker-

Here we are at day 14—two weeks! I have to say, your staff has been very welcoming and kind to me, I really appreciate it.

I’ve had a few people ask “what do you want, specifically?”, and they are right to ask. I haven’t made it crystal clear as of yet. Well, I’m fixing that today. I know the status of the Spectra proposal changes, sometimes in goal-shifting manner, (like the tolling order expected from FERC by the end of the week)… but as of right now:

  1. Please ask for Attorney General Maura Healey’s assistance with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues in Sandisfield, Weymouth, Rehoboth, and Acushnet. Please support AG Healey’s efforts to uphold our constitution under EEA Article 97 Land Disposition Policy.
  1. Please direct the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to be more aggressive in getting Massachusetts to the goals set by The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 (GWSA) as these two agencies are beholden by law to meet “reductions from all sectors of the economy to reach a target of a 25% reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050.”  In May 2016, the MA Supreme Judicial Court upheld the GWSA and said that you and your administration had to work to get the state to adhere to the 2020 and 2050 goals. To meet these goals set by law, you must direct the EEA and MassDEP to enforce the regulations we have and direct them on the policy level to make new regulations to get us where we are supposed to be by those dates. Please do so, thanks!
  1. Please direct the course with the EEA towards a strict review of the Spectra Energy proposal in Weymouth. You could have (should have, if you ask me) directed the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to file for a rehearing with FERC.  But, since didn’t happen, please direct the EEA and MassDEP to take an incredibly close look at Spectra’s Weymouth proposal, specifically the Chapter 91 permitting as it pertains to Waterways and Wetlands.
  1. Please, comment on the FERC docket (CP16-9-000) regarding the Atlantic Bridge Weymouth compressor proposal: ask questions, or express concerns that reflect the any one of the six concerns EFSB had with the project (found in their Dec 2015 letter to FERC).
  1. Please comment on the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) docket. CZM is still taking comments during the stay even though the comment period is closed.  If you—your administration—commented, it would hold a lot of weight.  You cannot can’t tell them what to do, but you can sway them as Governor. Please seriously consider taking this action: Spectra’s Weymouth compressor proposal is not water-dependent and does not conform to CZM policies.

One other thing:
Please involve the fisheries and marine departments to look at the Herring runs, which originate right in the area the compressor is proposed. The state and the towns are putting substantial resources into the daylighting of the smelt run, taking down dams, and literally revamping the runs to benefit of fish (the presence of these fish have been historically important since 1648). Weymouth has the largest run in the state and upholds the fishing industry from Boston to the Cape. Vibrations, like what the compressor(s) will produce every day, have deleterious effects on marine life.

While I’m hopeful you are aware of this, I feel the need to repeat the following taken from Mothers Out Front’s website, about the thousands of gas leaks in the state:

  • The amount of gas in the new pipelines is much more than we need. Most of it would be exported, so we would pay for new pipelines and suffer the consequences of leaking methane while the utilities make a profit. We can manage without more gas. The pipelines are being built to cover peak demand times of only hours every year. The Attorney General’s report shows we can reduce and manage demand with conservation and efficiency. We don’t need new pipelines.

Please lend strength and support to these measures taken to reduce gas leaks in MA:

  • December 2016, Boston passed an ordinance that put additional requirements on gas companies when they perform gas leak repairs in Boston. Boston’s ordinance will be an example for action by other municipalities in 2017.
  • The Department of Public Utilities (DPU), which regulates the gas distributors and sets the rules for leak identification and repair, has issued draft regulations that address the classification and repair timeframes for both leaks that present safety concerns and leaks that have significant environmental impact. They are expected to publish the final regulations later this year (2017).
  • MassDEP published draft regulations that put limits on methane emissions from leaking natural gas infrastructure. They are also expected to publish final regulations later this year.

Thank you!

Letter #3

April 7, 2017

Dear Governor Baker-

Well. That recent MassDEP Air Permit was a punch in the gut for me and many others. A reminder is in order about why I sit…

I sit for those who cannot be present, but would be EVERY DAY if they could.

I sit because you still think Massachusetts needs new gas infrastructure when 4 studies and counting say we don’t.

I sit because you’re not meeting the legal obligations regarding the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008. You and your administration are actively ignoring the law by continuing to permit this project.

I sit because you thought a “pipeline tax” was a good idea. That the electric ratepayers should help pay for a for-profit company’s costs for gas they don’t want nor need is outrageous.

I sit for the veterans and elderly who live in incineration zones near the proposed compressor and pipeline sites, and whose homes will lose value.

I sit for the little kids whose asthma is going to go off the charts, as well as a host of other chronic health problems resulting from compressor emissions.

I sit for the hundreds of people in the Fore River area Environmental Justice zones who are supposed to be protected from dangerous and polluting infrastructure like this but who are instead in incineration zones.

I sit because EEA Secretary Beaton refused a statewide MEPA review of Spectra’s (now Enbridge’s) illegally segmented gas projects. One big project, segmented as separate projects to avoid comprehensive impact reviews. And you let them get away with it.

I sit because you did nothing while a high pressure gas pipeline and metering station was installed right next to an active quarry in West Roxbury, despite massive opposition. Even your symbolic opposition would have been incredibly valuable.

I sit because I know Enbridge lobbyists are present every week in the State House. They should not be the only voice in this.

I sit because you still think it’s OK to let Enbridge site a compressor on the smallest parcel of land within the most highly populated area ever proposed… and surrounded by multiple explosive heavy industry sites in the Fore River Area.

I sit because you’re putting a large number of your constituents in danger for a for-profit company, and it must stop.

I sit to remind you that Massachusetts can lead on energy policy like the entire West coast is doing right now

I sit to remind you of the impression your inaction has left on your constituents.

I sit knowing that I, and others like me, have the support of Massachusetts’ House, Senate, Attorney General, US Senators, US Representatives, Supreme Judicial Court, Mayors, Police and Fire Chiefs, Town and City Councilors, Boards of Selectpersons, and constituents in opposing Enbridge’s proposed projects.

I sit because your administration has the very unique position and ability to overrule FERC via a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) permit denial.

I sit because your administration didn’t urge the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) to ask FERC for a rehearing of the conditional certification of the compressor station before the February 2017 deadline. That lack of action, combined with a consistent and glaring lack of communication and cooperation from your administration was humiliating and insulting. Not urging the EFSB do something so simple, so needed, and so grounded in EFSB’s own concerns is negligent.

I sit because Spectra’s safety monitoring is so poor they often don’t know there’s a 
problem at a site until the infrastructure leaks and/or blows up. Enbridge’s record is worse.

I sit because your silence and inaction has left me, and us all, speechless and deeply disappointed.

I sit because the safety of the public must come before Spectra’s profits.

I sit because there are 99 reasons to turn your back on Spectra/Enbridge.

I sit for the future of my children, and yours.

I sit with hope that you will help, and soon. Help us, Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.

Thank you

Letter #4

Dear Governor Baker:

#SitWithAndrea is 60 days old

For 60 days I’ve been in your waiting room from 1:15pm-1:30pm waiting to talk to you. For 60 days, you have not spoken with me about the proposed Algonquin/Spectra Weymouth compressor station. I’ve been told you “don’t want to talk about” the compressor station proposal. You’ve had many opportunities to step in, ask questions, or just put your foot down and stop this craziness but you have done NOTHING.

How do folks feel about your inaction? I asked them: How does it make you feel that he is ignoring Weymouth and the South Shore considering the proposed compressor project is so clearly poorly sited and not needed? How does it make you feel that his administration has done NOTHING to protect us?

“He is NOT “For the People” of the Commonwealth BUT, “For the CORPORATIONS ” We need a leader who is willing to help people change, we must change and stop w energy sources that hurt our health, water, plants, trees. Energy sources that destroy the planet for future generations.” Rita R.

“It makes me feel like he is a typical politician who speaks with fork tongue. When given a real chance to make a difference and stand up for what he says he believes in, fighting climate change, he stands silent. He gives lip service to the issue publicly but in fact falls short of doing the right thing by not fighting the poor siting of the proposed Weymouth compressor station. There is nothing rural about this area. Compressor stations are normally built in rural areas to minimize risk and pollution hazards to people. He sides with the industry that harms the efforts to fight climate change. He does not protect the people of his state. He doesn’t seem to care that a densely populated neighborhood will have their health jeopardized or that the MWRA pumping station and Fore River Bridge will be very close next door neighbors to a potentially explosive compressor station. He doesn’t care about the poor air quality or pollution that already exits in the Fore River Basin and adding a compressor station will send those problems soaring. I feel abandoned by my governor. I feel like I don’t matter to him, we don’t matter. I feel like he cares more about industry than his people. I feel like my power is in spreading this word and in the voting booth.” Linda I.

“It makes me feel that his good words about climate change are not indicative of his real priorities.” Rema L.

“I won’t be voting for a politician who callously walks by constituents on a daily basis.” Mary E.

“It makes me feel angry~ elected official (we suppose any way) ignores the safety of the people while sticking with the fossil fuel industry~ not nice to treat the people this way~ why not have a conversation with that person who has been hanging out at the State House~ do you wonder why at all~ why can’t you care~ what would happen if you cared~ tell you what volunteer to have Spectra’ compressor in your neighborhood if you are so eager to satisfy those who seem to own you~” Marjorie J.

“He’s not concerned for the future well-being of his constituents over the short term profit that this company will make. People around here ARE paying attention.” Kevin L.

“Thanks to DeSmog and Itai Vardi, we know all we need to know – the governor and his minions are all too cozy with Spectra lobbyists, and do not care about the people of the South Shore. Baker’s repeated falsehoods about the compressor are an example of the deliberate ignorance running rampant in our country right now. Don’t bother him with facts – he knows all he chooses to know already. Every legislator in the state and every citizen in the state can contradict the lies he tells and he will repeat them anyway. Now that he has destroyed our credit rating, can we expect to get him un-elected?” Julie A.

“It makes me feel disgusted. I suspect he has some financial kickbacks or side deals taking place. He is in it for himself. Period. His support of the Paris Agreement is only a meaningless gesture to camouflage the real Charlie. Just another political hack.” Rose C.

“He is a disgrace and needs to be replaced!” Lesley A.

“I think our community is amazing and he is truly disappointing. It is shocking that he can not do anything. Our homes, schools and natural landscape do not deserve to be tarnished.” Kelly A.

“As numbers against the project grow, so do the numbers of people who will try to vote him out. This project is immoral on many levels. His behavior is so strange that one could easily suspect he has been paid off.” Renata H.

I am very disappointed in Baker’s dismissing of the compressor station as “it’s industrial over there anyway; there already is a compressor station over there.” (False)
It isn’t fair that people who live in the town and in the surrounding area do not get to decide what is built in their neighborhood. It seems wrong on so many levels that a Canadian company can just shove this down our throats for [gas] that isn’t even for this country. It’s gross and it’s suspect and I will not be voting for him again unless he pulls all the stops to get it squashed. He is either connected $$ or a coward. Prove me wrong, Governor.” Jenn A.

“60 days, and counting, where Gov. Baker can’t give one of his constituents 10 minutes of time? Shame on him! His severe lack of knowledge of what is currently at the site, what is really proposed for the site, and the fact that state agencies DO have a say in the FERC process, is unforgivable!” Larry O.

“Oh goodness, where to begin? I feel exasperated by his refusal to respond, disappointed by his failure of leadership, insulted by his repeated statements that he has no role to play in this, disgusted by his hypocrisy as he steps up and take a position against Trump on the Paris agreement, and overwhelmed by the level of effort being put forth by private citizens who are spending so much of their time and money trying to force him to do his job even though we are incredibly busy with our own jobs/families/responsibilities. Not to mention how horrified I feel at the thought of the compressor station creating a safety and health risk for me, my family, and my neighbors.” Amee S.

“I am shocked that Gov.Baker has not paid attention to such a large and consistently vocal group of his constituents. Will it take a horrific accident to get him to finally pay attention? I hope not!”Natalie L.

“As a governor who in general is doing a good job, it upsets me greatly that he is overlooking such a potential disaster on the south shore. It will definitely be something I consider next election.”Angie W.

“Let’s put it this way…there was a guy who worked at CVS on Washington St. that looks a lot Baker. I’m thinking it might be easier to get a statement from him than the real guy.

But in all seriousness, he’s quick to dismiss anything regarding the situation, but God forbid anything happen he’d change his tune quickly. I will not vote for him again – especially after last week’s climate alliance talk.” Kim M.

“I’ve had a few conversations with him on his 2 campaign trails. He said he would make time to hear people’s concerns. However, it seems the easier time to make would be to walk out from his office and speak to my friend. My friend who is kind, patient and easy to speak to. His lack of respect for this person speaks volumes to me now. Even if he does not agree with your position, he signed up for hearing people out. The bigger his silence, the more deafening it becomes to the people who vote and care about what is going on in their state. If he does not take responsibility for his role in this horrid project for Massachusetts, then he will have to hear the people speak through voting.” Cindy L.

“Although I don’t live in MA now (I lived in MA my whole childhood and I may move back to MA from RI), I am appalled at Governor Baker lack of caring concerning the proposed compressor stations. His reason is that it is a FERC (federal) issue… that is NOT good enough… I think that Governor Baker is a coward… doesn’t he realize that his FIRST duty is to protect his citizens??? Perhaps he is in the gas/energy company’s pocket? Sounds familiar… in RI, Governor Raimondo is NOT opposed to the proposed power plant (Invenergy’s CREC). She has received multiple campaign contributions from Invenergy’s employees…. KNOWN FACT. Governor Baker… you had better stand up and take notice …. YOU TOOK AN OATH …” Stephanie S.

“Living less than 1/2 mile of the proposed site I am honestly terrified 😦 I am so shocked not only at the fact that he won’t speak about it, but his lack of understanding of what all this really means for us. Reading everything and being very new to this whole situation ( I just moved here) is completely horrifying. The findings with what is already at this site in regards to pollution is scary enough and they almost have the approval to add more !!!! Weymouth has enough and I want to feel safe in my own house !!!!!! I wonder how he would feel if he were me and this was going close to his house I wonder how fast he would speak then? #wherescharlie Marilynn F.

“His behavior has eliminated any shred of respect I had for him. And has motivated me to help make sure he is a 1 term governor.”Laura W.

“His recent lip service in support of the Paris Climate Accords so as to show his slight opposition to Trump is angering and frustrating. He is a green washer and thinks that just because he says a few nice things that we will be happy with that. Honestly, this is worse than his usual apolitical silence because it allows for the citizens of Massachusetts to have false hope that he actually cares about our health and safety. This is not how a real governor acts.” Nickolas F.

“Given Gov. Baker’s interest and support for many SS political candidates and his numerous visits to the area, I would have hoped that he would have gained a greater appreciation for Weymouth and the people who live here. The governor’s concern for the Paris Accord is admirable, but where does he place his concern for the citizens of the Commonwealth. One simple sentence Gov. Baker, “I do not support siting the gas compressor station in the densely populated town of Weymouth.” Cathy T.

“To be honest, I feel that if we are not satisfied with the job the governor is doing, it is time to start paying attention to those people who are running against him in 2018. There are already at least three declared candidates. Get out and hear what they have to say and then jump on board to work for one of them. Grass roots!”Kathy G.

“Why won’t he talk to you?” Christopher G.

“INFURIATING!
Disappointing!
Betrayed….Yes!!! BETRAYED MOSTLY!!!”
Tracy B.

“I heard him on WGBH saying that it was the same as eminent domain taking land for a highway exchange that benefits us all. What he is ignoring is that we don’t need that gas and the pipeline/compressor station won’t help our heating bills. Since it’s primarily for export all it will do is benefit corporate profit and shareholder value….NOTHING for residents of New England.” Jim H.

“They won’t care! They don’t care! If you look at where our country is headed on the grand scale we are all in for it! It doesn’t matter! Yes I know it’s not optimistic, and totally against my nature but they don’t care and that’s the reality to me.” Amy O.

“Honestly, you have the patience of an absolute saint going into his office day after day. I’d be arrested by now. Any politician that doesn’t respond to thousands of calls in any meaningful way should not be in office. Not in Massachusetts. His treatment of us is, and has been, totally insulting. I’ve turned a corner with him. I’ve definitely gone from being somewhat hopeful he’ll help us to being sorry I voted for him. Really sorry I voted for him. Some realizations are tough to line up with.

If we had the slightest indication Baker wanted to help us, we could work with it. Considering he has not even visited the North Parcel, there’s absolutely no indication he wants to help. None.” -Anonymous

Your staff and Constituent Services have been gracious and communicative with me, for which I am grateful, but it’s not the same as YOU being communicative and involved.

Governor Baker, you seem like a genuinely nice person, very loyal to those with whom you’ve made a positive connection. While commendable, something tells me you would also be a nice guy expressing condolences after the compressor explodes, taking your constituents and important state and municipal infrastructure with it.

HOWEVER…

Governor Baker, you have officially sucked the hope out of me. So, what do I do? What do we do? As Grace Paley said: “The only recognizable feature of hope is action.” I no longer have hope you will intervene, but I still have the capacity for action.

And I have one more paraphrased quote for you right now:

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