WEYMOUTH / #HUNGER4JUSTICE
‘Do your job, DEP’
A B.U. professor is on a hunger strike to get officials to take action at the Weymouth compressor station site
By Christopher Gavin, Boston.com
February 3, 2020
On Monday morning, the Boston University earth and environment professor was approximately 118 hours into the hunger strike he says is needed for state officials to act on vehicle decontamination, asbestos testing, air quality monitoring at the Weymouth compressor station site.
Activists and project opponents like Phillips have long expressed their outrage and concerns over Enbridge’s natural gas facility adjacent to the Fore River Bridge, now under construction after securing final approvals last year.
Phillips has been actively engaged in opposition to the project — including with the local community group, Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station, or FRRACS — and was arrested, among others, for civil disobedience at the site in October, he said.
In fact, the strike is something Phillips has considered ever since final permits were signed off last fall.
“In a nutshell, every legal and regulatory remedy and appeal and process has run its course,” he told Boston.com. “So we’re at a stage now where the injustice is still there — that’s never been remedied — but there’s a necessity now for people to literally put their bodies on the line to call out the injustice that’s playing out in the Fore River basin right now.”
He says the strike will cease if the state meets three conditions:
1. That all dump trucks exiting the work site abide by procedures outlined in the “Release Abatement Measures Plan”, or RAM, finalized in November, “which require a decontamination pad/station, and other measures to clean tires and exterior vehicle surfaces of site residue.” Activists allege crews have so far failed to do so. Enbridge said it follows the plan.
2. That DEP completes “comprehensive testing” for asbestos in the furnace bricks and the coal ash that make up the man-made fill around the site. Phillips laments previous testing only just scratched the surface.
3. That the Baker administration commits to a date within the next, approximately, week and a half for when an air quality monitor will be installed and commence operations near the property.
Why BU Environmental Researcher
Nathan Phillips Is on a Hunger Strike
By Jessica Colarossi & Cydney Scott, BU Today
February 5, 2020
Phillips has three demands for ending his hunger strike: all of the dump trucks leaving the site must be properly decontaminated, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) must test for asbestos in the bricks and coal layers in the foundation of the land where the compressor is being built, and Governor Charlie Baker’s administration must commit to installing and operating an air quality monitor.
Phillips has not heard directly from the governor’s office, despite emails and calls from him and those supporting his strike. Baker pledged his support for air quality measures while on the WGBH radio show Ask the Governor on January 23.
The day after beginning his hunger strike, Phillips received an email from MassDEP letting him know that the other two demands on his list would be considered in a public meeting scheduled for this Friday, February 7. The meeting with MassDEP officials was organized by FRRACS, which invited Phillips to join. Ideally, he will leave the meeting knowing where things stand on his demands and the other litany of health and safety concerns residents are expected to raise.
“They have every reason to comply with my three demands and state [that they will do so] publicly and unequivocally,” Phillips says. If they don’t, he is prepared to continue going hungry indefinitely.
The fate of Phillips’ hunger strike will likely be determined at the Friday meeting. He plans to continue supporting the residents of Weymouth as much as he can and acknowledges the privilege he feels being able to engage safely in a hunger strike—with job security, access to quality food, and a supportive network of friends and family. He is not actively encouraging anyone else to participate in this action.
“There are so many ways to make a difference,” he says.
» Read the full story
To support BU Professor Nathan Phillips' hunger strike, please call daily
(leave messages on weekends)Governor Baker: 617-725-4005
DEP Commissioner Suuberg: 617-292-5500
Simply say:“I am calling to urge you to meet the 3 demands that will allow the ongoing hunger strike of Nathan Phillips to cease.”
Nathan Phillips' hunger strike is to "call attention to and to demand immediate addressing of serious public health and safety violations occurring at the site of the ill-conceived Weymouth Compressor station and across the region."
State To Install Permanent Air Monitoring Station In Weymouth
By Barbara Moran, WBUR
January 30, 2020
State regulators will install a permanent air monitoring station in Weymouth to detect changes in air quality related to a natural gas compressor station under construction nearby.
The monitoring station will collect data on nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter, ozone, and volatile organic compounds "consistent with EPA monitoring regulations and guidance," the State Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) said in a statement. The station will also record wind speed, temperature and direction.
Protesters have picketed the construction site a number of times since ground was broken in December, saying that gas released from the station will pollute the surrounding area.
State Senator Patrick O'Connor, who represents Weymouth, said it has taken four years to get the monitoring station approved.
"This is a small victory in what's been a tremendous war between communities and natural gas energy companies," he said.
» Read article
Audible Café Speaks with
FRRACS Leader Alice Arena
The Weymouth Compressor Station is part of the proposal for Atlantic Bridge, a SPECTRA Energy pipeline project that pumps fracked gas from fracking fields in the midwest through New England to…where? to whom? Well, that’s a good question. The story has continued to change as the company strives to build this monster. Initially, it was supposed to be for residents in New England. Now, the gas will go to Canada, and then for export. No local benefit at all.
Construction of the 7,700 hp compressor station is now underway, and it is being protested and opposed, both at the site and in the courts. It’s been a long, long fight, and the opposition is NOT going away!
Report raises gas utility safety issues:
Says National Grid is struggling to address leaks
by Colin A. Young and Bruce Mohl, Commonwealth Magazine
January 31, 2020
A PANEL REVIEWING the physical integrity and safety of the state’s natural gas distribution system found a gap exists between the way gas utilities say their crews perform work on the gas system and the way that work actually happens in the field. It also found that National Grid, the utility serving eastern Massachusetts, including Boston, is struggling to contain leaks on its gas distribution system.
Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc., a company contracted by the Baker administration to examine the safety of natural gas infrastructure in the wake of the September 2018 natural gas disaster in the Merrimack Valley, turned in its final report this week. The report includes specific observations about each of the state’s gas utilities after spending time observing gas work job sites and reviewing gas company manuals, policies, and procedures.
— A Conversation about Energy and Climate, Originally scheduled for tonight, February 6th, now rescheduled due to winter weather advisory.
» Facebook Event Page
TUESDAY — FEBRUARY 11, 2020 — BOSTON, MA— Valentine's Day Thank You.
Greetings Activists! It’s time to follow-up with some love! On Valentine’s Day week we will be delivering thank you note Valentines to our climate justice champ legislators.
If you can join us at the State House, we'll meet in room 109 at 9:45 AM (enter Hooker, turn right after security. When you enter 109, go to the end of the hall).
Whether it's a phone call, e-mail, tweet, FB post, or coming with us to drop off Valentines, we would greatly appreciate you showing some love to the legislators who listened and worked with us towards our clean energy future!
10 AM – 12:30 PM
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St, Boston, MA
TUESDAY — FEBRUARY 18, 2020 — PITTSFIELD, MA
— Fossil Fuel Divestment: what it is, why it matters, how to do it. Come join us on February 18th for a discussion on fossil fuel divestment with BEAT’s very own advocacy coordinator, Logan Malik. We start gathering around 5:15pm and Logan will speak at 6pm in the private dining room at Patrick’s Pub in downtown Pittsfield, MA.
Prior to joining BEAT, Logan spent several years working to get large, academic institutions to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. His efforts ultimately led to Clare Hall – one of 31 Colleges at the University of Cambridge – divesting of its £32m endowment, becoming the first College to commit to full divestment.
As part of the discussion, Logan will talk about his experience working in the divestment movement, why divesting is an important form of climate action, and what you can do to be a part of this movement.
Free public event. Hosted by Berkshire Environmental Action Team.
WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY — FEBRUARY 19 & 20, 2020 — WASHINGTON, DC
— It’s Time to Take Action at FERC!
The climate crisis is deepening, frontline communities continue to be victimized by the fossil fuel industry, and Trump’s FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is going from bad to worse. It’s time to take action at the FERC headquarters in Washington, DC to call for its replacement by FREC, a Federal Renewable Energy Commission!
February 20th is the next monthly meeting of the FERC commissioners. In December, by a 2-1 vote, they decided that new, non-fossil fuel sources of energy that receive state subsidies, like the sun and wind, would be penalized and forced to pay more to access the PJM electrical grid that serves 13 states and DC.
It’s time for nonviolent escalation! On February 20th, let’s attend their public meeting and make clear that it’s time for big changes at FERC—it’s time for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission, FREC, to replace it!
Free public event. Hosted by Beyond Extreme Energy
» Register here for event planning and final details
» Facebook event page
» More info here
WEDNESDAY — FEBRUARY 26, 2020 — NORTH ADAMS, MA
— Forests and carbon in a larger frame.
On February 26th, Frank Lowenstein, Chief Conservation Officer at the New England Forestry Foundation, will present a talk titled, “Forests and carbon in a larger frame.”
New England is the most heavily forested region of the United States, and our forests represent a critical resource in the fight against climate change. How should we use them to best reduce the risks to a sustainable future? How do new technologies of wood construction affect this calculus, and what patterns of living do they make possible for the future? Frank Lowenstein will address these questions and provide a global-to-local look at the use, management, and protection of forests.
Free public event, hosted by MCLA
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Murdock Hall, Room 218
North Adams, MA 01247
» For more information, contact Elena Traister at (413) 662-5303