September 27, 2020

It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the fracked gas front. Massachusetts sees it’s share of accidents and mishaps and hears it’s share of concerns, but permitting still allows the work to go on. Here is the news:

Feds Give Weymouth Natural Gas Compressor Station Final Green Light To Begin Operations

by Miriam Wasser, WMUR
September 24, 2020

The controversial Weymouth Natural Gas Compressor Station overcame its final regulatory hurdle Thursday when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave the company behind the facility, Enbridge, permission to put the station "into service."

"This authorization is granted on the basis of [Enbridge's] construction status reports and photographic documentation," Rich McGuire, FERC's Division of Gas director, wrote in a letter. He went on to say that the company appears to have "adequately stabilized areas disturbed by construction and that restoration is proceeding satisfactorily."

But, less than two weeks after an accident at the station triggered an emergency shutdown that required workers to vent all of the gas in the station into the surrounding area, not everyone was happy with the news.

"This is wrong. FERC should be investigating the leaks and impact of the Weymouth compressor station, not granting it approval," Sen. Ed Markey wrote in a tweet.  "We won't stop fighting against decisions like these, which put a company's profits above people’s health and environment."

Alice Arena of the activist organization Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS) said that while she wasn't surprised to learn that FERC granted Enbridge's request Thursday, she was "very disappointed" to read the decision. She called FERC an "enabler" of the oil and gas industry and promised that the fight isn't over yet.

"Whether it's [through] the courts, the agencies, or the Clean Air Act — what we will do from this point on is everything available to us to stop them from operating," she said.

Markey, Warren call for gas company to halt compressor station operations

By Jessica Trufant, The Patriot Ledger
September 22, 2020

The state’s two U.S. senators are asking the CEO of a giant energy company to consider suspending operations of the natural gas compressor station on the banks of the Fore River and investigate the unplanned gas release that happened there earlier this month.

In a letter to Enbridge President and CEO Al Monaco, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey express their concerns about bringing the nearly-completed compressor station online. They said doing so would be premature, as the state Department of Environmental Protection works on its court-ordered reassessment of the technology being used at the facility.

» Read the full story

» Keep up with the latest from FRRACS on their website, Facebook page,
  and Twitter


MassDEP, activists differ on impact from Tennessee Gas pipeline incidents in Agawam

By Peter Goonan, Mass Live
Septempber 18, 2020

AGAWAM — A state environmental agency says two recent incidents during construction of the Tennessee Gas pipeline extension project were “relatively minor” and cleaned up — a view that drew sharp criticism from opponents of the project.

The Columbia Gas Resistance Coalition, which opposes the Agawam pipeline project, said one incident in August involved Tennessee Gas being cited for driving trucks through a wetland area, and the second incident this month involved clay mud seeping up from the drilling operation.

“'Relatively minor' is in the eye of the beholder,” said Susan Grossberg of Columbia Gas Resistance Coalition. “It’s hard to imagine that if the first violation was so minor, why then did it rise to the level of requiring a Notice of Noncompliance to have been issued?”

Grossberg said the damage to the vernal pool will not be known until next spring. The installation of the pipeline is “a huge environmental impact for the people of Agawam,” Grossberg said.

» Read the full story


Eversource reveals their intentions for
Columbia Gas system

Since the Merrimack Valley Columbia Gas overpressurization incident in 2018, Columbia Gas has been ordered to cease doing business in Massachusetts and to sell it’s local distribution company (LDC) assets. Eversource was quick to step up as the potential suitor and the purchase proposal is now up for consideration at the DPU.

At the time of the Merrimack Valley incident, Columbia Gas had a “Reliability Project” under consideration for its lower Pioneer Valley system. Working in conjunction with Tennessee Gas, they planned for some redundancy with new high pressure pipelines, a new Metering station in Longmeadow and the ability to increase capacity for their distribution network. This expansion was also the only remaining customer for Tennessee Gas’ “261 Upgrade” which is currently bringing increased capacity of its 261 Compressor station in Agawam and increased pipeline capacity (see above story of pipeline construction frac-out).

With the forced sale of the company, we weren’t sure if Eversource intended to move ahead with planned expansion of this western Mass segment of Columbia’s system. From this filing at the DPU, it’s now become clear they intent to continue the expansion.

Yes, Eversource intends to move forward with the Longmeadow Project given the imperative to reinforce the reliability of the western end of the Bay State Gas Company distribution system. The timeline for the project is not yet determined. The completion the referenced assessments will have no bearing on the project timeline given that the project is an imperative to reinforce the integrity and reliability of the Bay State Gas system."*

State legislators update Westborough officials on Eversource project

By Jennifer L. Grybowski, Community Advocate
September 24, 2020

Town officials heard an update on the Eversource project from State Rep. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston), State Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough), State Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), and Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) at the Board of Selectmen meeting Sept. 22.

Dykema noted that the town has had a number of contacts with Eversource since January regarding the Worcester Feed Line Improvement Project, and that because it’s such a large project involving permitting processes from both the state and several communities it is important to maintain effective partnerships. Westborough town officials were not pleased with Eversource’s last presentation to the board, citing a real lack of effort on Eversource’s part to provide answers to questions the town has.

She said the delegation – including herself as the vice chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy – sent follow up letters to Eversource underscoring the need to respond to the town as directly and as promptly as possible.

Dykema said she is also intimately involved in the larger issues the town has raised in terms of climate change. She said she is ensuring the project is considered consistent with the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), a commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.


Northeast Energy Center LNG facility in Charlton receives MEPA Certification

The proposed LNG facility in Charlton, MA received yet another certification. Similar to the Enbridge compressor station in Weymouth, one of the questions at hand was whether or not a lower emission all-electric motor drive  (EMD) should be used. Though approval of any of these projects brings more emissions to the state, one way of cutting them to some degree would be to use EMDs instead of gas-powered turbines. Once again, our Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has chosen to side with the fossil fuel industry in favoring gas-powered turbines over this less-polluting alternative.

This is from our EEA Secretary, Katherine Theoharidies, who has ironically nicknamed herself “Climate Katie.”

"...the Proponent states that it reviewed the use of a lower-emission all-electric motor drive (EMD) to provide the mechanical power to drive the nitrogen compressor, but ruled it out in favor of a natural gas driven turbine with a hybrid drive system. I refer the Proponent to MassDEP’s comments which request that the Proponent submit additional analysis, as detailed in MassDEP’s comment letter, to support subsequent air permitting processes. ... I have determined that an EIR is not required. The project may proceed to permitting, where any outstanding issues may be addressed."

» Citizens Against LNG in Charlton Facebook page

National Grid puts Albany Loop E37 Pipeline on Hold
Great News! The Albany Loop pipeline is stopped –for now!

by Citizens for a Sustainable Environment
September 21, 2020

National Grid quietly announced that, “the Company has determined that there are adequate gas supplies …, such that we are able to temporarily defer the Albany Loop project from a supply  perspective.” This, “provides a window of opportunity to … offer new solutions (e.g., renewable natural gas, geothermal) … and potentially delay or avoid the need for this and other projects.” The company, however, also stressed that plans for the line are still being explored for future years.

We at Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline (SNYFGP) fought the Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline, we helped fight the Sheridan Hollow Power Plant, and now the Albany Loop pipeline, and they have all been stopped.  Is this because we are great organizers?  Yes, in part… But… it’s also because the fossil fuel industry is on the skids due to the worldwide climate movement.

» Read the full story here

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