Added: Nice story and interview by CBS-4 with Alice Arena of FRRACS, one of the compressor station resistance leaders:
They’re down to this: Physical blockades of the gas compressor construction site in Weymouth. Nine folks from Extinction Rebellion and 350Mass got themselves arrested.
There’s a new summation of the Weymouth gas compressor saga in InsideClimateNews, a small but reputable outlet, by local journo Phil McKenna. It really is a must-read: It carefully juxtaposes the rules and obligations that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is supposed to follow, versus what MassDEP actually did. (I’ve quoted at length from the article — please do click through and read. It’s fine work.)
And as I’ve mentioned before, one feels bewilderment in listening to MassDEP, that someone is telling you one thing and its exact opposite at the same time. Certain protections are guaranteed, except when they’re not; and it’s presented as all perfectly obvious and unanswerable. Perhaps this is intentional; and perhaps that’s how an agency internally justifies doing the wrong thing. It’s a bit like Jerry Seinfeld at the car rental:
— I don’t understand, I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
–Yes, we do. Unfortunately we ran out of cars.
— But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have reservations!
— Sir, I know why we have reservations.
— I don’t think you do!
To wit (my emphasis):
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s air quality plan for the compressor station notes that state climate policy requires agencies to “consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts, including additional greenhouse gas emissions,” when issuing permits. The approval plan says carbon dioxide emissions from the high-efficiency gas turbine used to power the compressor will be low, and a required leak detection and repair program will minimize unintended methane leaks from the facility’s pipes. The plan does not, however, calculate greenhouse gas emissions from intentional venting at the facility or the emissions associated with the additional gas flowing through the high-pressure pipelines that the compressor station would enable.
The greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline would be massive:
“If you add up the through-put of the gas, along with the operating emissions [of the Weymouth compressor], it adds up to over a million motor vehicles per year, every year that it would operate,” [BU Professor and pipeline protestor Nathan] Phillips said.
And then there’s the cancer:
… Modeling conducted as part of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s air quality plan, released in August, showed emissions from the compressor station would include elevated levels of benzene and formaldehyde, but those levels would be within the state’s allowable limits guideline (43 percent of the annual limit for benzene and 70 percent of the annual limit for formaldehyde.) The report notes that the modeling does not take into account preexisting background levels or emissions from unrelated sources.
So if it’s already polluted, and you pollute some more, it’s fine! Carry on!
So, in summation:
- MassDEP is required to “consider reasonably foreseeable climate change impacts”. It seems clear they figured out a way to let that slide.
- MassDEP is required to consider carcinogens. They figured out a way to let that slide.
- MassDEP is required to consider environmental justice. They figured out a way to let that slide.
- MassDEP was made to conduct a Health Impact Assessment, which they then a.) suppressed/ignored, or something; and then b.) ruled irrelevant anyway. So what was the point, you might well ask!
And so you end up with a complete perversion of MassDEP’s role in protecting the public health and well-being:
MassDEP ensures clean air, land and water. We oversee the safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes. We ensure the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills. And we work to preserve the state’s wetlands and coastal resources.
There are four pledges made in that welcoming paragraph on MassDEP’s website. This process betrayed all of them.
MassDEP’s obscurantism, its sheer up-is-downism, cannot be allowed to stupefy us into submission. They are supposed to protect us, in very specific ways; and they refrained from doing so.
2+2=4; and this is a genuine scandal.