Activists Air Opposition to Station
BOSTON — Activists renewed their demand Wednesday that the Baker administration revoke an air-quality permit issued for a proposed natural gas compressor station, gathering outside the headquarters of state environmental regulators to complement an appeals hearing underway challenging the permit’s validity.
While the first day of a three-day hearing unfolded inside the Department of Environmental Protection, several dozen members of the Mothers Out Front and other advocacy groups took to the streets to warn that the station would bring environmental and public-health harm to environmental justice communities in the Weymouth area.
“Emissions from this dangerous and dirty fossil fuel infrastructure will threaten the health and safety of the children of the Fore River Basin and beyond,” said Anne Goodwin, one of the leaders of Mothers Out Front’s Massachusetts chapter. “The northeast pipeline expansion this would be a part of will contribute to climate change at a time when we urgently need to stop using fossil fuels.”
Energy company Enbridge is seeking to place its station in Weymouth to help connect its natural-gas pipeline infrastructure from New Jersey up to Beverly. After producing a health impact statement, the Baker administration in January approved an air quality permit, one of the project’s key requirements, despite widespread opposition from elected officials and others.
DEP officials began a three-day hearing on the appeal Wednesday, where dozens of community members, experts and officials are expected to speak. Mothers Out Front is not a party in the appeal, but leader Carol Chamberlain said members decided to hold their press conference with other advocacy groups to help raise attention around the issue and put pressure on Gov. Charlie Baker to intervene and revoke the permit.
“We’re hoping it will be synergistic by proceeding on different fronts,” Chamberlain said.
Goodwin said activists had staked out Baker’s arrival to Logan International Airport this morning ahead of his trip to Washington to hand-deliver “postcards” urging him to take action. They also visited the governor’s State House office after the rally to leave additional postcards.
A report released earlier this week from the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility cautioned that the station would be placed in a densely populated area where access for first responders is challenging.
“Governor Baker, do the right thing,” said Amy Tai, another speaker with Mothers Out Front. “Do the moral thing. Listen to the scientists, doctors, elected leaders, boards of health, first responders and residents of the Commonwealth. Rescind this permit. Stop this project.”
Baker in the past has said he had “no choice” but to approve the project because of federal rules and the result of the state’s review.
On Monday, asked about the latest concerns about the project’s health and safety impacts, Baker told reporters, “We’ve been hearing all kinds of points of view on this issue now for over two years.” He noted the project proponents had sued the state over the length and “broadness” of its review, resulting in a settlement requiring a decision soon.
“There’s an open public process going on right now,” Baker said. “If people have issues and concerns, they should absolutely file those, include them as part of the record, and they’ll get a serious review. But I would urge people to raise the issues with FERC and with their congressmen and their senators.”