Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
The Weymouth Compressor Station, an integral part of the Spectra Energy/Enbridge Atlantic Bridge project that will deliver gas to New England gets go-ahead!
A compressor station planned for Weymouth, Massachusetts, part of the Spectra Energy/Enbridge Atlantic Bridge expansion project, has been stalled since 2017. The administration of MA Gov. Charlie Baker (RINO) finally issued an air permit for the project in January of this year (see Antis Outraged: Massachusetts Gov Approves Weymouth Compress Stn). Antis promptly challenged the Dept. of Environmental Protection permit, dragging out the process another six months. Yesterday a “hearing officer” (we’d call her a judge) for the DEP ruled the permit issued by the DEP “does not violate Massachusetts statutory and regulatory provisions.” The hearing officer recommends that the DEP issue a Final Decision affirming the air permit. Victory!
In January 2017 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted final approval for the $452 million Atlantic Bridge expansion project (see FERC Approves Atlantic Bridge Project for New England/Canada). The Spectra Energy/Enbridge project beefs up capacity along the Algonquin Pipeline, along with increasing capacity for Spectra Energy’s Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, to carry more Marcellus/Utica gas into New England and (eventually) all the way to Nova Scotia, Canada.
Most of the project is now done–except in Massachusetts, the Weymouth compressor station. The station will be situated along the Alogonquin Gas Transmission pipeline. Anti-fossil fuelers have been ranting about the project pretty much from the beginning. They are incensed with the hearing officer’s decision, pledging “the fight is NOT over.” A threat? Check out this report from WIcked Local:
Department of Environmental Protection Hearing Officer Jane Rothchild declared an air quality permit previously issued to Spectra Enbridge Energy to build a compressor station in the Fore River Basin, “does not violate Massachusetts statutory and regulatory provisions,” as alleged by opponents of the facility.
“A preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the permit sufficiently regulates air contaminants to prevent a condition of air pollution,” Rothchild stated in her ruling on June 27.
Opponents of the facility previously argued that air quality changes reflected by updated data show the proposed compressor station’s location, near the Fore River, already has high levels of pollution and therefore should not be exposed to additional toxins from the facility’s operations.
Congressman Stephen Lynch previously urged the DEP to reject its prior approval of an air quality permit issued to Spectra Energy, in part, because there are 64 potential toxins in the area of the proposed compressor station and the public trust with how the air quality permit was issued has been destroyed.
Lynch also urged Rothchild to conduct a “de novo review,” to guarantee all the necessary data collected is researched and submitted in its entirety and that the public has a full opportunity to review and comment on the evidence.
Rothchild stated, “modeled impacts,” of the proposed compressor’s emission of air toxins would be well below the Massachusetts Allowable Ambient Limits and the state’s threshold effects exposure limits.
“The AALs (Allowable Ambient Limits) and the TEL’s (threshold effects exposure limits) are conservatively set by the MassDEP and are intended to overestimate risk,” she stated. “However the permit conditions for startup and shutdown events (of the proposed compressor) is not supported by sufficient credible evidence…”
Rothchild stated the air permit previously issued to Spectra Energy should include some minor changes to address the recent disclosure of additional air toxics data by Alpha Analytical, a private lab hired to check samples for the DEP.
DEP officials did not inform the petitioners seeking to repeal the air quality permit or Spectra Enbridge until the evening of May 16, or two-thirds of the way through a long-scheduled three-day hearing.
“While the disclosure negatively impacted the process of this adjudicatory proceeding, and as I stated earlier was unfair to the petitioners, Mass DEP does not require ambient background air toxics to be included with the compressor’s stations emissions, so the data are not relevant to these appeals,” Rothchild stated.
She stated the minor adjustments to the air quality permit should include a review of the DPW’s long-standing practice of requiring air toxic dispersion modeling to determine the number of ambient levels emitted by a facility.
Rothchild also urged the DEP to determine whether its method of assessing the number of ambient concentrations of toxins without including background levels is outdated.
“Such a practice would likely reduce the levels of pollution in the ambient air and better protect the public health and the environment,” she stated. “It will also be consistent with a small but emerging trend in this area.”
Also, check out reports from the Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger, Boston’s WGBH public television station. And, of course, here is the threat from the NIMBYs and global warming fundamentalists at NoCompressor.com:
The DEP presiding officer issued her decision today on Enbridge’s air quality plan approval: she recommends that the Department’s Commissioner issue a Final Decision affirming the air permit.
Don’t despair, Fore River Campers. The fight is NOT over. Enbridge still needs other permits, as well as approval from CZM. We will have more info on all of this soon, as well as action steps. Please stay tuned. The fight continues.
We located this helpful video of the project: