Baker makes a move

After increasing pressure from citizens’ groups, pushing against his stance that natural gas infrastructure is a federal concern over which states have no power, MA Governor Charlie Baker is at least conceding that the Weymouth Compressor Station warrants another look by state agencies. The proposed compressor station is part of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge project, which already has FERC approval, but is waiting for some last stage approvals, including a certificate from the MA Coastal Zone Management Office. The site is listed at 0 feet above sea level, is surrounded by densely populated. Aside from health concerns over emissions which would add considerable impact to already impacted communities, the safety concerns during high tides and hurricanes will only increase as sea level rises.

Though this is an encouraging change in focus, it will be necessary for citizen’s groups to continue informing state agencies, and be watchful to make sure that this is not just lip service to take pressure off the administration. This announcement is coming soon after the other candidates for Governor have spoken out against the project, and at least three have visited the site with concerned residents (Gonzalez, Massie and Warren).

As the pipeline-resisting community learned from the Baker Administration’s long-demanded, and long-awaited “Low-Demand Study”, a state-agency-driven study can still skew heavily in favor of industry goals.

 

Baker steps up role in vetting Weymouth gas project

By Jim O’Sullivan, Boston Globe
July 17, 2017

Governor Charlie Baker is escalating his administration’s involvement in the increasingly contentious debate over a proposed natural gas facility on the Weymouth-Quincy border, promising that the state will take a more active role in representing the concerns of the communities that would be affected.

Administration officials said Baker has instructed state department heads to investigate the potential air quality, public safety, and other implications of the project, which would serve as a key link for a natural gas pipeline through New England into Nova Scotia.

Mounting opposition to the proposed compressor station near the Fore River Bridge has presented Baker with something of a political quandary, as the state looks to diversify its energy portfolio. Activists in an area of the state that is a stronghold of support for Baker have stepped up their criticism of the project.

Stopping short of joining other elected officials in outright opposition to the project, Baker said he has asked for a public health assessment from his top environmental protection and public health aides.

He has also directed his energy and public safety chiefs to intercede in the discussion between the public and the federal regulator, telling Weymouth’s mayor that the federal officials “should hear firsthand — and then address — the concerns raised by community members.”

Baker said the state’s coastal zone management office would ask for more information from the project developer regarding risks during floods and hurricanes.

In the letter to Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund, obtained Monday by the Globe, Baker wrote that the state was at an energy crossroads, in need of new renewable energy sources. But, he said, “While we continue to believe that this multi-pronged strategy is vital to controlling the costs of energy, providing reliability, and protecting the Commonwealth’s environment, we also understand the importance of weighing all the potential impacts on local communities.”

Hedlund responded in a statement that “no community has ever waged this aggressive and pro-active a legal and grassroots fight against such a proposed facility.”
“Governor Baker heard people’s concerns and now has directed his agencies to demand further information from the natural gas company and from Federal regulators,” he continued.

» Read the full article

Stepping up the pressure

By Jon Chesto Boston Globe
July 17, 2017

Baker apparently couldn’t sit on the sidelines. Baker just sent Weymouth Mayor Bob Hedlund, a former Republican state senator who is fighting the project, a letter pledging that state officials “will not remain silent during this process.”
Among the promises: a public health impacts assessment and a review of the exposure to future flooding. Hedlund hopes the studies could provide fodder for the state to slow the project, or stop it entirely.

Plus, these are tough words from Baker – at a time when the industry needs his help more than ever to make more inroads in New England.

» Read the full article

New ad against compressor station puts Baker in hot seat

By Ed Baker, Wicked Local – Braintree
July 17, 2017

Compressor station opponents are demanding Gov Charlie Baker speak out against Enbridge Inc’s proposed North Weymouth facility in a 30-second TV infomercial that is airing on New England Cable News, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and You Tube.

Compressor station opponents are demanding Gov. Charlie Baker speak out against Enbridge Inc’s proposed North Weymouth facility via a 30-second TV infomercial that is airing on New England Cable News, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and You Tube.

Alice Arena, a co-leader of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor, or FRRAC, said viewers will have to be a Comcast subscriber to see the message, which initially aired Monday.

“The intent is to get Gov. Baker’s attention and to ask him to visit the site and talk to his constituents, and state representatives and state senators from the local area,” she said Tuesday, July 11. “We want him to understand this is the wrong place to put a compressor station.”

Arena said the message would air over a four week period and be available for Comcast subscribers in Weymouth, Hingham, Hull , Scituate, Cohasset, Norwell and Hanover.

“If you don’t live in those markets, you can watch it online,” she said. “We hope to expand it to other markets including Quincy and Braintree.”

Arena said the infomercial is intended to help people realize the proposed compressor station is not an issue that only impacts residents in Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree.

“There are 33,000 cars a day that use the Fore River Bridge and it (the compressor) will affect them,” she said. Arena said the compressor could impact drivers if it emits dangerous levels of toxins.

The infomercial features an aerial view of the proposed facility and states it would be located near 1,000 homes and 15 educational buildings within a one-mile radius of the site.

» Read the full article

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