On Monday, July 17, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Rebecca Tepper, determined that Eversource Energy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report for a proposed gas pipeline running from Longmeadow to Springfield does not comply with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act and its regulations.
Therefore, Eversource must do additional analysis and conduct meaningful outreach in the community before submitting a supplemental report.
Springfield Climate Justice Coalition’s response to Secretary Tepper’s determination
“The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC) is thrilled with Secretary Tepper’s response to Eversource which reinforces the importance of environmental justice. In her ruling, Secretary Tepper explicitly underlined the concerns SCJC raised in our comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report : public health considerations were not taken into account, impacts on environmental justice communities were disregarded, and alternatives to fossil fuel infrastructure were not meaningfully considered. The Secretary demonstrated that she is truly hearing frontline communities and weighing their voices in her decision-making.
SCJC commends the administration for this thoughtful and science-based response, and looks forward to engaging in every step of the regulatory process around this unhealthy, unnecessary, and costly project.
We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from individuals and organizations across Western Mass and the entire Commonwealth. This demonstrated once again that when people join together to speak out against injustice, our voices will be heard.”
Detailed information regarding the Secretary’s ruling is below
The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, a diverse coalition of community, social, civic, and public health organizations, faith based groups, and businesses, is celebrating an important victory in its campaign to stop Eversource Gas from building a new gas expansion project in Springfield. This proposed project, which includes a new 200 psi high-pressure 16” pipeline main and expansion of an existing regulator station within Springfield, would run through many Environmental Justice neighborhoods and would impose yet another inequitable environmental burden on a city already targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries.
On Monday, July 17, the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Rebecca Tepper, determined that Eversource Energy’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released on July 14th,
“does not adequately and properly comply with MEPA and its implementing regulations. The Proponent (Eversource Energy) should prepare a Supplemental DEIR (SDEIR) with the additional analysis… including a supplemental alternatives analysis and other information which was to have been provided in the DEIR.”( p.1)
MEPA is the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. The MEPA review process provides meaningful opportunities for public review of potential environmental impacts of projects for which certain actions by state agencies, such as issuing permits, are required.
The Secretary further stated that
“The purpose of the DEIR for any project is to provide sufficient information to analyze and support a selection of a Preferred Alternative that will avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts to the maximum extent feasible. For the reasons stated above, the DEIR has not provided an adequate alternatives analysis, and has not fully justified dismissal of the “No Build” Alternative or other non-pipeline alternatives.” (p. 7)
Secretary Tepper highlighted the massive opposition to this project in Springfield and across the Commonwealth and the environmental justice issues raised by proposing to build new dirty energy facilities in Springfield.
“Several comment letters, including a petition signed by approximately 6,000 individuals and organizations, strongly advocate for exploration of further alternatives to the project to support a “just transition to a clean and green energy future,” and note the potential for disproportionate adverse impacts on EJ populations who may have to bear the burden of additional fossil fuel infrastructure in their communities.” (p.6- 7)
Bolstering SCJC’s claim that Eversource’s proposed pipeline is unnecessary and again reinforcing the environmental injustice of this proposal, Secretary Tepper stated that
“the DEIR has not fully justified the purpose and need for the project, and does not explain why the risk of outage was determined to be unacceptably high at this location so as to warrant immediate action, as compared to other areas with aged infrastructure throughout the Proponent’s statewide distribution network.”
“Given the location of the project within EJ populations, the SDEIR should discuss how and why this location was chosen for infrastructure upgrades, and whether the presence of EJ and other vulnerable populations was considered as a factor in site selection.” (p.16)
Eversource proposed to expand dirty energy infrastructure at a time when farmers in Western Massachusetts are grappling with massive crop failures due to torrential climate change fueled rainstorms, as toddlers in Phoenix burn their feet on sidewalks with temperatures as high as 116 degrees F and as vast portions of the United States face toxic smoke choking our lungs due to historic fires raging in Canadian forests. Yet Eversource Energy failed to address the climate costs of this unnecessary and toxic pipeline proposal. As stated by Secretary Tepper
“In addition, the DEIR did not address other items in the Scope, including a quantitative estimate of the potential increase in gas supply that may result from the project and associated impacts, including increased GHG emissions. The DEIR has failed to provide full justification for dismissing non-pipeline alternatives to the project, and has not shown why a “hybrid” scenario of combining shorter term redundancy solutions (such as use of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquified natural gas (LNG) to meet winter peak demand), combined with a longer term transition to other fuel sources, may not be a feasible option.”
Cathy Kristofferson 978-204-3940
Susan Theberge 413-575-7345
Naia Tenerowicz: 303-906-3848
“This proposed pipeline would run through many Environmental Justice neighborhoods in Springfield and would impose yet another inequitable environmental burden on a city already targeted by multiple toxic and polluting industries. Additionally, the cost of at least $65 million gets passed on to ratepayers, who will increasingly be the poor, those least able to pay to transition off gas”, stated Naia Tenerowicz, a lead organizer with Springfield Climate Justice Coalition.
“In addition to the existential threat of climate change/chaos that would be increased by Eversource Energy’s proposed project if approved, this gas expansion project would exacerbate child health and environmental justice problems in Springfield” said Susan Theberge, co-founder of climate Action Now.
“We applaud Secretary Tepper agreeing with our assessment that Eversource did not provide adequate alternative analysis nor justification for dismissing none-pipe solutions for their perceived project need,” said Cathy Kristofferson of the Pipe Line Awareness Network for the Northeast. “The gas companies cannot continue expanding their distribution systems if we hope to meet our emission reduction mandates.”