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A vigil against proposed West Roxbury pipeline

Fighting the pipeline in West Roxbury

Two residents of the Centre/Grove Street area stood vigil tonight in front of the site where Spectra Energy wants to terminate a large natural-gas pipeline with a "metering and regulating" transfer station for National Grid - across the street from the quarry where they worry ongoing blasting could cause a disaster with the pipeline or transfer station.

Residents plan vigils every Monday at 6:30 p.m.

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After the Vigil, we attended an extremely informative Civics Association meeting down the street at St. Stephen's Church, chaired, with great fairness, by Joe Goode. My 1st mtg because I didn't know it existed. There were 30 - 40 people present. On the agenda was further discussion of the proposed WR Crushed Stone "reclamation soil" project. After discussing at length the variance requested by a citizen to break his lot into two to build a house for re-sale, the meeting turned to the possible soil dumping project

In attendance were pretty much all the staffers from City Hall, reps for Councilmembers Wu, Pressley, O'Malley (and others I didn't know) and Mayor Walsh's West Roxbury Neighborhood liaison, Chris Rusk (I believe) played a major role at the mtg.

Four members of the Lo Russo Group, owners of the quarry, were also present, including the two cousins and their public voice Andrew Daniels, of Boston Environmental, I believe, a major player in the Boston Construction Industry.

These are some things we learned:

  • A website from the State Dept. of Environmental protection is extremely useful to help educate yourself: http://reclamationsoil.wordpress.com/
  • The potential toxicity level of any "FILL" the quarry would be accepting has been reduced from grade RS2 (I think that's the term?) to RS1. This means, they said, that any dump fill they would accept is BELOW a possible toxicity level that is even regulated in any way. They are asserting there will be ZERO danger from anything the put it.
  • The quarry is also backing away from any statement that said there was going to be 300 trucks, every day! In practice that would have been 150 trucks...because the "in"trip, and the "out" trip each count.
  • BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING:
    Is that the Mayor is convening a 15 -18 person Task Force to address and consider this whole process.
    My question: WHO gets to be on this Task Force?

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Thanks for the info about the Civic Assoc. meeting.

Do you know if there is a follow-up meeting planned? I'm curious about the quarry task force too.

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RE: the WestRoxburyLateral/Spectra/AIM Pipeline - Please visit No New Fracked Gas Infrastructure in West Roxbury, Dedham or the NorthEast! FB page (which the local Stop the WRLateral Pipeline group would like you to know is a DISTINCT entity from them, and ALSO DISTINCT from, and NOT the WRSEwww.WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org which are working very specifically on our local situation)....IF you'd 1) like up to date information on the whole confusing Federal and State Regulatory process and bureaucracy - which is where all these huge fossil fuel decisions are made....2) sources of facts to show the media-pervasive "!!WE MUST HAVE MORE NEW GAS YESTERDAY CRISIS!!"- which apparently ALL the politicians have bought into, except Governor Patrick (yikes!) is a calculations con game...3) inspiring posts from citizen groups ALL over the NorthEast and elsewhere who are fighting with all they have to educate their neighbors and stop ALL the harmful and taxpayer-$wasteful$ new pipeline projects. All of these projects are going FULL-STEAM ahead with Federal govt blessing, unless the citizenry rises up to say "STOP!!! The emperor simply has no clothes!!"

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I'm not going to claim that putting the line and a transfer station next to a working quarry is a good idea. It is horrible. That said, with people no longer liking dirty coal for the electricity or oil to heat their homes, we are becoming more and more dependent on natural gas. I'm no energy expert, but even I know this to be the case. We can either ship it via boat, which means blotting our waterfronts with tanks, or send it through pipelines.

That said, what are your positive steps to deal with this? More nuclear power plants, which are great except for the waste and the huge downside of an accident? Hydro, which means ecological disaster quicker and more visible? Wind, which in Massachusetts means 10+ years of opposition to wind farms and which at the end of the day, will cost the ratepayers more? What?

Again, the residents of West Roxbury are by no means being NIMBYs on this, but at some point this infrastructure needs to go somewhere.

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I appreciate that you acknowledge you are not an energy expert, and certainly neither am I. But I've spent the last three months (since I first heard about an M & R station across from our actively blasting quarry; I live only 2 blocks away) trying to educate myself about the issue. And what I've learned has blown open my mind to how twisted the fossil fuel companies are at perpetuating untruths that will lead us down a road to self-destruction as a planet. I may be saved now from an explosion at the quarry (which I WON'T be! unless we all fight like heck to stop the WRL right now), but we'll still face a bleak future of increasingly extreme "weather events" in the ongoing future. Like today? IDK.

You say you are no gas expert (like me), and yet you repeat as a fact that we are "dependent on natural gas" to make a deal with the devil, forced to choose between blotting the coast, or destroying the land. I do understand why you are convinced of that, because ALL the media keep repeating it over and over, quoting the "experts." But these experts are in service to a politically and economically entrenched energy industry that was handed over legislative candy and Federal guidelines and subsidies by the 2001 - 2005 national ENERGY COMMISSION (it had a different name), chaired by none other than Halliburton's first son, Vice President Dick Cheney [look up: fracking + Halliburton loophole, as just one example]. This shifted the course and direction of 20+ years of energy policy that had been working to heal the earth, upon whose healthy functioning we all truly depend! I hope Charlie Baker is as smart as he seems, and he won't be doing the same about-face from Deval Patrick's 8 years of visionary energy policy. I worry about that.

Waquiot, you dismiss hydro and wind as untenable. As many have said elsewhere, the FIRST thing we really need to do is put on a sweater and just lower the dang thermostat (this is NE and not the Caribbean, after all) because it is the lives of our great, grand children we are talking about. If you really don't believe that, by now, I'm afraid you may be in a self-protective denial. SECONDLY, all the govt subsidies for fracked gas pipeline infrastructure should go instead to helping all citizens upgrade their home heating to high-efficiency units which dramatically cut both fuel use and our bill. Check out the current promotions on masssave.org (tho, I JUST went there and it is looking WAY less professional and normal than it used to!! Why is that??? Worth a reporter looking into).

It's just another set of "experts," but I have seen the statistics and reports which show that this kind of "conserving" will actually be the "bridge" we need to get us through to the "beyond fossil fuel" era. Why are WE as citizens, instead, being asked to pay for industry's past unwise choices, just so that for 20 more years the 1% can continue to scrape out from the precious earth profits for themselves. Seriously? THIRDLY, the efficiency, reliability, cost and productivity of a diverse, decentralized, and renewable energy grid will only come about if the government and industry stop wasting time, money, and brain power to work together to make it happen now, not later.

Let's not simply accept a fossil fuel "solution" because "they" say so, especially when there are alternative calculations that show "they" are just so wrong. Especially when what "they" are offering is NOT even a solution at all, because of the real damage it causes. Instead, let's organize ourselves to get educated as a community, as Bostonians, and as U.S.Americans to demand from our politicians real, meaningful solutions. Put our tax dollars and high energy bills toward developing an infrastructure of sustainable energy sources using solar, tidal, hydro, geothermal, wind (did u see idea from MIT about wind energy from Channel 5? - http://www.wcvb.com/news/company-channeling-wind-power-with-turbines-bli...?), like humans have used for thousands of years (before killing the whales and finding petroleum). And like you say, Waquiot, make all of these, so they actually work. That's where I want my energy billls and tax dollars to go. Don't you?

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"Why are WE as citizens, instead, being asked to pay for industry's past unwise choices, just so that for 20 more years the 1% can continue to scrape out from the precious earth profits for themselves."

You are being asked to pay for gas based on the current market demand, which has "Between the years of 2000 and 2013, New England went from getting 15 percent of its energy from natural gas to 46 percent. That's dozens of power plants getting built." I guess the industry did make the decision to built more power plants, but that's instead of coal and in response to shutting down nuclear. Cape Wind is the big attempt to add green power to the grid, which IMO has gone poorly.

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/05/361420484/new-england-electricity-prices-s...

The result is that 'In November, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. announced a 29 percent rate hike due to constrained supplies of natural gas.

In September, the state approved a National Grid rate hike of 37 percent. That added an average of $33 to a typical monthly bill."

http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2014/12/economic_develop...

That's a big question - do we want to try to address the impact higher gas prices are having right now on many people in the region or not? I'm sure the energy landscape is going to be very different in 50 years, but I don't think the best policy is to just completely punt on current energy supply systems, which are the basis of our regional economy on the assumption that there will be huge breakthroughs on unknown/unproven technologies. Tidal isn't going to heat a home at this point, nor is solar or wind.

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Yup, what he said.

Demand is up. It's a fact. Prices are rising for both consumer gas and electricity because of it. I'll let along the fact the supplies are up nationwide, as this is a controversy. At the end of the day, people don't want coal or nuclear, NIMBYs are taking a bite out of wind, and environmentalists in Quebec aghast at the ruination hydro causes. Gas is king, yet local supplies are constrained.

Btw, thermostat tops out at 67 at Waquiot manor. It used to top out at 65 before junior came around. Still not making a dent in the demand for natural gas in the region.

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Are we specifically paying for this through government subsidies or are you just saying that the consumers are paying for this through the costs being added into their bills? The former is a problem, but the CLF article seems to be pointing to the later which I don't really get. Why wouldn't the consumers of gas pay for the gas infrastructure? If you heat with oil or wood pellets or whatever, presumably you shouldn't be and aren't paying for the gas pipeline directly.

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I mis-read your question, so I wrote the following below. I guess I couldn't believe you were saying, "Fine let's build an unnecessary pipeline, and of course the ratepayers should pay for it because they can choose to burn wood pellets if they really wanted to." Is that really what you believe? Why shouldn't we just show that facts we could be paying for building RENEWABLE tidal, wind, geothermal, and solar infrastructures for the next century that doesn't KILL us! That's where I want my energy billls and tax dollars to go.

Any business HAS to pass on the cost of its operation to the consumers; otherwise it will go out of business! That's one way to discourage shoplitfting, by reminding the offender that they are really stealing from the rest of us who will just see any $$losses added on the price of everything else, right? It's also one of the excuses fossil fuel companies use to BLAME environmentalists for the high cost of equipment and regulations to make things less polluting. They say - "If we make these changes, it will just mean the price of electricity or heat will go so much higher for the users.
WHOM DO YOU THINK pays for the pipelines? The shareholders of the energy companies? It either gets added to our bill, or hidden as as a subsidy and then all taxpayers lose.

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I was interested in whether there were specific industry handouts involved in funding these pipeline projects, as in the state or feds will give them X million dollar tax credit or something. That's it. No need for ALL CAPS! If there are safety issues with this pipeline, it shouldn't be built obvs.

As you point out, there is clear distinction between rate payers (gas customers) and tax payers (all of us). At the end of day, if the gas company builds pipelines and those pipelines lead to higher costs for customers, then maybe customers will find alternative heating options more attractive. Look around town -lots and lots of people have put up solar panels which is great. Maybe geothermal heat pumps will be the next trend, but that's not going to come from the gas company, is it?

I understand objecting because you don't want a pipeline in the neighborhood or anywhere for safety reasons. I don't get the objection that pipelines cost money to build.

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Sounds like you need the stenographic record

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What we are up against has so much money, and is so well organized and politically entrenched that the odds against communicating the truth are really huge.

Right next to the article about the vigil on Uni-Hub, at the very top of the page, is a 2"x2" ad from TransCanada cheerfully spouting "PIPELINES WORK!" natural, cheap, safe.... All these ads, and exhortations for me to invest are also all over my Facebook pages. Can you imagine if every time we typed in "Pipeline" an ad for "Would you like to learn the actual facts about this situation?" popped up? Imagine?!

CLF is one source of alternative information:
http://www.clf.org/blog/clean-energy-climate-change/isos-big-mistake-cou...

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I don't know enough about the pipeline to comment on that but I do have to comment on your concern regarding the ads.

They're tailored to what you have recently searched for using (presumably) Google.

For example, I see a digital camera and programmable thermostat.

So yes, Keystone has $$, but so does Amazon - and I"m being targeted by the latter. :)

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And it's part of the forces that are causing us to see only those opinions we already believe. In this case, however, it's the opposite, I guess! If I have to see one more ad exhorting me to !! INVEST in Lucrative and SAFE Natural Gas !! (until they see my income doesn't qualify), I think I'm gonna keel over.......

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Here you go , Fidelity Select Energy Portfolio (FSENX) )
45.74 Up 0.71(1.58%) Dec 9
http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=FSENX

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So I guess this means that West Roxbury residents don't want their community poisoned with natural gas. So shut down the connections and free them from the noxious supply of this killer gas.

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Well, being poisoned with natural gas has never been mentioned. But in Spectra's EXTREMELY belated responses at Rickie Harvey site: WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org, Spectra DOES mention being sure to notify the community when there will be a "blow-down event.

Personally, I have received mixed responses to the dangers of this proposal. Spectra's own responese to Rickie Harvey have said what you can read above.

A well-respected gentleman "gas industry expert" from Washington State, told me that there shouldn't BE many of these dangers in NEW pipelines. WHY is it included at all as a mitigation from Spectra if it is not even going to happen?

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