WEYMOUTH, Mass. (State House News Service) — A controversial natural gas facility in Weymouth will remain allowed to operate after federal regulators on Thursday declined to revoke its authorization, although one decision-maker voiced concerns about its environmental and public health impacts.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission did not rescind the certificate previously granted to the compressor station nearly a year after the panel said it would reexamine the project in the wake of two emergency shutdowns.
While bashing the original permitting process and saying regulators "likely erred" in allowing the compressor to be built in its densely populated area, FERC Chairman Richard Glick said he does not believe there is "legal basis" to block the operation of the facility, which pumps natural gas northward into Maine and Canada.
"This facility is located in a heavily populated area that is home to two environmental justice communities," Glick said in a lengthy statement. "Those communities have borne a disproportionate burden from a legacy of industrial activity, including elevated rates of asthma, certain cancers, and other serious illnesses. Particularly in light of that history, Petitioners' concern about the impacts of the Weymouth Compressor station and the blowdowns it has experienced is legitimate, understandable, and, frankly, inadequately assessed in the underlying certificate orders."
"But that is not the issue that was before the Commission today," Glick continued. "The certificate is final and, under the law as it stands, that leaves only one issue for us to decide: Whether the Commission erred in allowing the project to go into service? The deficiencies in the now-final certificate do not provide a legal basis to prevent the Weymouth Compressor Station from entering service based on the record in this proceeding."
Written by Chris Lisinsky, SHNS.