Following a demonstration outside the Waltham offices of Houston-based Spectra Energy Thursday afternoon (Dec. 18, 2014), several West Roxbury residents and environmental group representatives met Friday with Boston staff for Senators Markey and Warren to protest Spectra’s proposed high pressure natural gas line through a densely settled neighborhood of West Roxbury and to urge the Senators to take action against the project.
“Time is of the essence,” stressed the representatives, with regard to the environmental review and review process now approaching a critical approval deadline with the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that oversees and must approve Spectra’s plans.
Hoping for some expression of support after months of sharing information about the dangers associated with this pipeline plan, the group voiced frustration and dismay that neither Senator has yet indicated a position on the project or even addressed the community’s growing concerns directly. As the delegation pointed out, Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and other public officials have already gone on record against the project with FERC, insisting on a different alignment.
Spectra is already well along in filing environmental impact statements in order to obtain official approval for the pipeline from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The West Roxbury Saves Energy group, which has been following the approval process closely, has faulted both Spectra and FERC for failing to provide accurate, relevant information to the community and to answer specific questions on a timely basis.
Thursday’s protest was the latest in a series of actions organized by the “Committee to Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline,” a group of local residents. Alarmed when they learned of Spectra’s plans in October, the group organized a community meeting on Dec. 3 to alert other residents to the dangers posed by the gas proposed pipeline and to launch a protest campaign. Community officials and residents from neighboring Dedham have expressed similar concerns and supported the effort.
Of particular concern is the proposal for a “metering and regulating” (M&R) station (similar to an electric transformer) in a neighborhood near not only homes but also schools, a nursing home, and across the street from a quarry where blasting still takes place.
Addressing the December 3 meeting, nationally recognized natural gas safety expert (and local resident) Mark McDonald called the proposal irresponsible and detailed its dangers – primarily an explosion (which he said could be worse than the explosion and fire which destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif. in 2010. McDonald emphasized that such facilities were intended for rural locations.