On June 29th, Spectra Energy/Enbridge withdrew their application for Access Northeast from the FERC docket. This is big news and a cause for celebration, but it does not mean an end for the compressor.
What does it mean for our fight against the compressor?
The South Shore has been facing two projects:
1. Atlantic Bridge - consisting of the construction of a 7700HP compressor station in N. Weymouth. THIS PROJECT HAS NOT BEEN DEFEATED YET.
2. Access Northeast - the expansion of the proposed compressor to 18,600HP + pipeline expansion throughout and beyond Pond Meadow. THIS PROJECT WAS WITHDRAWN ON JUNE 29, 2017.
For most of the past two years, we have been focused on Atlantic Bridge, because that is the project that Spectra/Enbridge has been seeking permit approvals for. We did attend a number of FERC open houses and scoping meetings last spring on Access Northeast, but for the past year, not much has progressed with Access Northeast.
One of the reasons for this is because Spectra/Enbridge could not secure financing for the construction of Access Northeast. You may remember the infamous "Pipeline Tax," in which ratepayers would be tasked with paying for the construction of pipelines on their utility bill. The pipeline tax was turned down by the Supreme Judicial Court in August 2016. Thousands of people across the state organized against the pipeline tax and successfully won the campaign. Spectra/Enbridge was then left to find another source of financing, which they have struggled to do. Due to the efforts of activists, local elected officials, state reps, and concerned individuals, Access Northeast has been withdrawn. This is great news. It means that folks in Acushnet won't be facing the addition of two LNG tanks at Spectra's liquid natural gas storage facility in Acushnet. Folks in Rehoboth won't be faced with the construction of a compressor station. And communities throughout NY, CT, and MA won't see the expansion of pipelines and compressor stations. This is worth celebrating, but it does not mean our fight is over.
Access Northeast could come back. Arthur Diestel, Spectra/Enbridge’s manager of enterprise public awareness, said that they "are putting pre-permitting activities on hold but...are still advancing the project." And that "the withdrawal of the project from pre-filing review is “merely a procedural step." (source: Patriot Ledger - 6/29/2017) Though we are happy to see Access Northeast withdrawn, we know that it might not be the end for Access Northeast. If the proposal comes back, we will fight as hard as before. Until then, we will remain focused and will continue putting our energy into Atlantic Bridge.
Spectra/Enridge is still awaiting permit approvals for Atlantic Bridge. They need a wetlands permit (this has been put on hold), an air quality permit (public comments are currently being reviewed), a waterways permit (currently being appealed), and a decision from Coastal Zone Management (CZM). CZM has stated that they will not review the project until Sprecta/Enbridge has received all of their permits. All of the permits stated above are facing their own battles and delays, which will continue to hold up the permit approval process. Their target in-service date was November 2017, so they is very far behind their projected timeline. This significant delay would not have happened without the thousands of concerned individuals who have organized against the project.
The fight against the compressor station continues.