AG Maura Healey says DEP 'bungled' air quality data

Attorney General Maura Healey stopped by WGBH today and addressed some questions related to the compressor station. This was unexpected but it was great to have her speaking about the issue. In response to the DEP’s dump of a new, 759-page report on the second to last day of our air quality hearing, she said that the DEP ‘“really bungled" air quality testing“‘, and noted that she hasn’t been able to take a position on the issue but acknowledged that ‘“we've been watching this and monitoring the situation”’. You can read more about Attorney General Healey’s comments here: State House News Service - AFTERNOON BRIEFS: "REALLY BUNGLED" | NEW ROTHCHILD ORDER | INCOME SURTAX

State environmental regulators "really bungled" air quality testing in connection with the review of a proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth, according to Attorney General Maura Healey, who said Thursday she hasn't been in a position to take a position on the project. "We've been watching this and monitoring the situation," Healey said during an appearance on WGBH radio. State officials earlier this month introduced hundreds of pages of air quality testing data, surprising parties at a days-long appeals hearing on the air quality permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for a controversial natural gas compressor station project in Weymouth. The agency issued the permit earlier this year, citing results from a health impact statement that took into account air quality testing data. "DEP, the Baker administration calls for this study and then we saw what happened with its bungling and that's a process issue and problem," Healey said. "And we need to find out now if it's a substance issue as well because we need to know what an accurate study looks like and what the results are and that needs to happen now." Healey's office has represented the DEP in litigation around the compressor station. When pressed by host Jim Braude for her position on the project, which has been widely condemned by elected officials from the South Shore, Healey, who earlier in the interview said Massachusetts needs to lead on clean energy, said, "I haven't been in a position to." In testimony obtained by the News Service and submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2016, Healey's office said it shared many of the environmental, public health and safety concerns raised about the compressor station. - Michael P. Norton/SHNS

[Story Developing] The Department of Environmental Protection's three-day delay in notifying parties of new data relevant to an air quality permit appeal case "upended the proceedings" and, as a result, the hearing will be extended to allow full consideration of the latest information, the adjudicator overseeing the case ruled Thursday. After receiving arguments from all parties on whether the latest batch of data concerning a proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth warrants continuation of the appeal, hearing officer Jane Rothchild ruled that, by waiting to release the data until the hearing was nearly complete, the DEP "prevented (petitioners) from having a fair and complete opportunity" to cross-examine witnesses. Attorneys for energy giant Enbridge, which is looking to build the station as part of its Atlantic Bridge natural gas pipeline project, as well as the DEP and petitioners who challenged an air-quality permit issued to the company will return to Boston for two additional days of cross-examination on June 10 and June 11 — three weeks after the hearing was initially scheduled to conclude. "I find that MassDEP did not have a reasonable basis for delaying disclosure of the Alpha reports to the parties until the hearing was two-thirds completed on May 16, 2019 and until after the Petitioners’ witnesses had completed their testimony on that same date," Rothchild wrote. "This was simply not fair." The dynamics of the case changed significantly when, to open the final day of the hearing, attorneys for the residents and towns of Weymouth, Quincy, Hingham and Braintree announced the DEP notified them the night before of more than 700 pages of new air-quality testing data from the site of the facility. Opponents say the new tests show higher levels of toxins than previously reported; Enbridge said project opponents "failed to show a meaningful difference" in the additional materials. Rothchild had previously threatened sanctions against the DEP for the delay, but her Thursday order did not indicate whether such punishment would in fact be issued. She did, however, demand even more information to explain the wait than she did previously, requesting copies of all DEP communications about the data with the private lab that produced it and an affidavit identifying when DEP witnesses in the case knew about the new information. - Chris Lisinski/SHNS” (State House News Service, 2019)