As quoted from The Patriot Ledger:
“During her lunch break, Andrea Honore walks 15 minutes from her office in downtown Boston to the State House, takes the elevator up to Gov. Charlie Baker’s suite of offices and makes her way into the waiting room.
She greets Baker’s staff, several of whom she now knows by name, before dropping an envelope into a tray set out for constituents, like herself, who personally deliver their mail to the governor.
Honore then settles on one of the plush couches and waits for about 15 minutes while State House staffers and tour groups come and go. When it’s time to head back to work, Honore confirms she’ll be back the next day in hope that Baker will carve out some time to meet with her.
“I’m not protesting – I’m waiting, and I’m being politely persistent,” Honore, of Weymouth, said Thursday, on her 11th day of spending her lunch break sitting outside Baker’s office.
Honore is among the South Shore activists ardently against a proposed North Weymouth natural-gas compressor station on the banks of the Fore River. Residents and officials in Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree fear the plant would vent toxic pollution and gases, or worse, that it could explode, causing havoc in the densely populated neighborhood.
While local, state and federal officials have come out against the project, Baker has yet to take a stance either way, saying only that the state plays a small role in the permitting process, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the final say.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Baker responded to a request for comment with a quote from Baker during an appearance on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio.
“In the end, these decisions get made by the federal government. The state has a minor role to play, but in the end, if the federal government believes that certain energy capacity decisions with respect to transmission are in the national interest, it’s their call,” the quote read in part.
The proposed 7,700-horsepower compressor station is part of Spectra Energy subsidiary Algonquin Gas Transmission’s Atlantic Bridge pipeline expansion project, which would expand the Houston company’s pipelines from New Jersey into Canada. Compressor stations are placed along pipelines to maintain pressure and keep the gas flowing.
After months of watching residents write and call Baker’s office and getting no response, Honore said she decided to show up at his office and see if she could discuss the project with Baker face-to-face and ask him to urge the denial of the state permits. She said it’s her way to build on the work of residents who have been fighting the pipeline expansion since Spectra Energy announced it several years ago.
“I’m here for the people who aren’t able to come to Boston because they work and lack of proximity. I can walk here, and honestly, I’m ashamed I didn’t do it sooner,” she said. “I couldn’t stand the thought of continuing to ask people to call and write letters to Baker when we’ve gotten nothing but silence from him.”
During her visit, Honore leaves a letter outlining residents’ opposition to the compressor station and pipeline expansion in general, along with studies, maps and other information backing up her claims. In addition to safety concerns, Honore said the proposal goes against climate goals set by the state’s 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, and a report commissioned by Attorney General Maura Healey confirmed that the state doesn’t need additional natural gas capacity.
Honore also includes profiles on families that live and work near the proposed site on the Fore River in a series titled “Humans of the Incineration Zone.”
On Thursday, Honore included a profile on Elizabeth Mack, who also works downtown and joined Honore during the afternoon sit-in. Mack, of Weymouth, sends her 1-year-old daughter to a home day care near the proposed site.
“It’s terrifying,” Mack said. “We spent hours and hours looking at day cares, and we want nothing more than for her to be safe.”
To follow Honore’s sit-in, visit https://sitwithandrea.wordpress.com/
Jessica Trufant may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.