Weymouth Residents Take on Canadian Energy Company Over Proposed Development

The town of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is taking on a Canadian energy company over a proposed development along the Fore River.

Enbridge, based in Calgary, has received push back from town leaders and residents over a compression station it seeks to construct in Weymouth to facilitate an expansion of its natural gas pipeline.

"It's an unnecessary hazard to have it there," said homeowner, Frank Singleton.

Just last week, the state Department of Environmental Protection approved a license for the project, one of several state and local approvals Enbridge needs to move forward. However, Singleton and his neighbors, who live nearby, hope to stall the project immediately.

"There's a tremendous amount of industrial activity going on in this area," Singleton said, "We don't need another one."

The compression station would sit at the foot of the Fore River Bridge and help push the flow of gas from Pennsylvania to Canada. According to town leaders, its development poses threats to both the environment and property values for those living within close proximity.

"This is one town against multiple Fortune 500 companies," said town attorney, Joe Callanan.

Tuesday, Callanan filed a challenge to a ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which gave its approval for the compressor project in January.

"We'd be the only community in Massachusetts that would have a natural gas fired electrical generating facility, a metering station, a pipeline and now a compressor station," said Callanan. "Weymouth has had enough."

But it is unclear if the courts will agree. In a statement to NBC Boston, a spokeswoman for Enbridge cited an exhaustive review by regulators as evidence that their project is appropriate for the proposed location.

"In that environmental review, FERC evaluated all the concerns raised by the participants in the proceeding, including the location of the compressor station, the environmental air, water and soil impacts, property values and safety, and overall concluded that this project was an environmentally permissible action if the facilities were constructed as conditioned in the Certificate," wrote spokeswoman, Marylee Hanley.

However, Weymouth leaders remain undeterred and embroiled in a legal battle.

The town has asked for a new hearing with federal regulators, and the Weymouth Conservation Commission recently denied a wetlands permit requested by Enbridge. That denial has put a hold on a wetlands permit approved by the state. As a result, Enbridge has asked the court or federal regulators to determine if federal rules preempt such a decision on the local level. Amidst all this, the company will also need to receive an air quality permit to move forward.

NBC Boston asked Gov. Charlie Baker to weigh in on the conflict. Peter Lorenz of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs sent the following statement:

"The Baker-Polito Administration remains committed to diversifying the state's energy portfolio and embracing advanced technologies to strengthen the state's clean energy economy, stabilize and reduce energy costs, and progress towards Massachusetts' greenhouse gas reduction requirements through the implementation of comprehensive energy legislation enacted last year."

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