DEP Presiding Officer Grants Extension to Air Quality Plan Approval Hearing
Media Contact: Alice Arena, firstname.lastname@example.org
Weymouth, Mass. (May 30, 2019) – Today, DEP presiding officer Jane Rothchild granted an extension to the petitioners (FRRACS, the Towns of Weymouth, Braintree, and Hingham, the City of Quincy, and the Hingham 10-residents group) in the appeal against the issuance of the air quality plan approval to Algonquin/Spectra/Enbridge for the Weymouth compressor station. The hearing has been scheduled for Monday, June 10 from 9 am-1 pm, and if necessary, on Tuesday, June 11 from 12-5 pm. This was the correct action for the DEP to take. FRRACS thanks Ms. Rothchild for allowing the information withheld by the DEP to be entered into the testimonies of this case and for allowing the further discussion of the toxicity that is present in the Basin into the appeals process.
Withholding data from all of the petitioners, the Department of Public Health, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council served to further negate the Health Impact Assessment and degrade the DEP appeals process.
The appeals process has been broken for decades, but this blatant omission of data pertinent to the issuing of a plan approval and final permit put the long-standing problems with this process in stark review. This unethical behavior by the DEP staff and attorneys was by far the most egregious breach of the public trust experienced so far in the four year battle against the siting of this station.
The DEP has made clear in its testimony that they consider it their job to allow for certain levels of health risks, to allow for certain numbers of cancers, and to ignore the cumulative effects of adding pollution on top of pollution in already overburdened areas. In this time of climate change, this practice is, and was always, a crime against the residents of the Commonwealth.
We call on the DEP to rescind their approval of Enbridge’s air quality plan. Data collected by DEP show elevated levels of pollutants in the Fore River Basin, including the carcinogen 1,3-butadiene. The data must not be ignored. The DEP, an agency tasked with protecting the environment, must work to protect human health by limiting, not increasing, pollution levels.
Further, we call on the DEP to take corrective action to update a 30-year-old policy that disallows the consideration of background pollution when permitting new industries. It is this policy that has perpetuated the abuse of Environmental Justice neighborhoods in the Commonwealth for these 30 years. It is this policy that is the at the center of the DEP withholding information from the public.
As other communities–like Agawan, Charlton, and Longmeadow–face the permitting of polluting and dangerous fracked gas infrastructure and as other Environmental Justice communities–such as Brockton–face the permitting of polluting gas power plants, we demand that the DEP follow its mission “to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water, land; to provide for the health, safety, welfare and enjoyment of the people and the protection of their property; and to advance environmental protection and sustainable economic development.”
In the words of Dr. Sandra Steingraber, “We should become carcinogen abolitionists. The chemicals simply need to be phased out. When carcinogens are deliberately introduced into the environment, some number of vulnerable persons are consigned to death.” We refuse to allow our communities to be “consigned to death,” either from the toxic overload that exists or from an accident most certain to happen at a compressor station located so close to heavily populated environmental justice neighborhoods.