Concerned MA Residents Demand a New, Unbiased Review of Permits from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)
Lakeville, Mass. (May 22, 2017) – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), a state agency whose mission “ is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water, land – and to provide for the health, safety, welfare and enjoyment of the people,” has been cozying up to Spectra Energy, a company seeking permit approvals from MassDEP.
A recent investigative report in Desmogblog filed by journalist Itai Vardi, revealed that MassDEP officials gave Spectra Energy (now known as Enbridge) access to their draft air pollution permit, formally known as an Air Quality approval plan. Spectra Energy is a fracked-gas pipeline company based in Texas. They plan to construct a 7,700 horsepower fracked-gas compressor station in Weymouth, MA. Prior to construction, they need to obtain a handful of permits, including two from MassDEP: an air pollution permit and a Chapter 91 Waterways permit.
In the permit reviewal process, MassDEP colluded with the polluter by allowing them to make favorable edits to the draft Air Quality Plan. One example, documented by Vardi’s investigation, is an edit by Spectra that altered the definition of pump seal leaks from the DEP’s original leak threshold of 2,000 ppmv of emissions of fracked gas to 10,000 ppmv, making it possible for Spectra to ignore more leaks of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection then accepted Spectra’s change for the Air Quality Plan.
During a press conference at the Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville, dozens of community groups and concerned residents throughout the state held a press conference at MassDEP offices to demand that:
1. MassDEP revoke the Air Quality Approval Plan for Spectra’s fracked-gas compressor station and issue a new air quality analysis be conducted by an independent consultant.
2. Make all Air Quality Plan comments available for public viewing by either internet or email access.
3. MassDEP issue a new, independent review of the Ch. 91 Waterways Permit, which MassDEP has conditionally approved.
4. MassDEP’s compliance with 310CMR7.01: General Regulations to Prevent Air Pollution and the Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act: “to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation’s air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population;”
5. Considering the unjustified access provided to Spectra during the air permit planning process, MassDEP shall accept a citizen oversight panel which will receive copies of all communications with Spectra Energy and will be invited to attend all in person meetings between MassDEP and Spectra Energy.
6. If an Air Quality Plan is ultimately approved, that the Plan include additional testing, monitoring, and reporting requirements as requested by concerned and informed citizens.
7. If an Air Quality Plan is ultimately approved, that MassDEP add a condition that Spectra must pay an independent entity to conduct a health impact assessment for the facility prior to construction of the facility. This requirement would be consistent with the wishes of citizens, policies adopted by the Mass Nurses Association and Mass Medical Society regarding health assessments for new gas infrastructure, and two bills in the state legislature which have been sponsored by dozens of Representatives and Senators.
After the press conference, they entered the building to request a public meeting. Officials responded and allowed folks present their comments and concerns. More updates to follow.
FRRACS was joined by: South Coast Neighbors United (SCNU), Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS), 350MA Franklin node, 350MA South Shore node, Mass Health Care Providers Against Fracked Gas, Quincy Climate Action Network (QCAN), and several other community groups involved with addressing the issues of fracked gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth.