The Weymouth Compressor Station: Massachusetts’ Moment of Climate Truth
Coming just days after the disastrous decision in Virginia by its Department of Environmental Quality Air Board to approve the siting of a massive shale gas compressor in a known and documented historical African American and Environmental Justice community, Massachusetts today stands at the very same precipice. There are two stark choices:
- Green light an obviously troubled project, occupying an unsuitable site, impacting abutting Environmental Justice communities with a further toxic burden.
- Pull the plug on a project entirely inconsistent with Massachusetts’ trends and benchmarks for simple, matter-of-fact climate adaption and climate justice.
There is a very strong case against the siting of this proposed compressor station. Reviewing the site from a climate change perspective, there is a glaring problem — its situated atop landmass that is easily and historically inundated with any significant storm surge. And that before factoring in sea level rise that is surely on its way just short days, months and years following a potential build of this project. Based on the NOAA SLOSH model, there is no mistaking the precariousness of the site:
Ironically (or not) this project is being proposed for such an unsuitable site at the very moment that Massachusetts has taken arguably the most aggressive steps in the United States for climate adaptation via an awe inspiring urban coastal planning initiative. This dichotomy begs the question:
Why, as the City of Boston aggressively protects itself at the Seaport and South Boston locales, just miles south in the same state, in an industrial sacrifice zone whose communities have shown a concerted effort to throw off their beleaguered past, the exact opposite is proposed by the powerful oil and gas interest, Enbridge ?
Weymouth and its surrounding communities have faced down Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Weymouth Compressor Station proposal year after year with a fortitude and determination that is truly inspiring. Today is their day. It is also the City of Boston’s day, the State of Massachusetts’ day and every community’s day that is fighting against the shale gas infrastructure overbuild. We are all watching the Weymouth decision — a climate moment of truth for all of us.
Stephen Metts is a GIS analyst and instructor based in New York State. His research interests covered in this article include shale gas development, climate change, climate adaptation, climate and environmental justice.