By Janet Green, Outreach Coordinator of Jewish Climate Action Network
On Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at East Boston High School, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board held a public comment hearing from 7 - 10 pm. The hearing was specifically on Eversource's Notice of Project Change, in which they wanted to move the proposed substation 190 feet from the eastern to the western side of the parcel of land owned by the city of Boston. It would still be in the same neighborhood in East Boston, however.
First, a brief overview of the proposed Project Change was presented, Then, the Board Chair invited public officials to speak. These local officials officials all spoke in opposition to locating a substation at all in East Boston: the state senator, state representative, city councilor for Charlestown, East Boston and the North End & a city councilor from Chelsea. An aide for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley played an audio tape of her speaking, also in opposition.
Then the public got up to speak, also all in opposition to locating a substation at all in East Boston: About 40 people total. Some people spoke about maybe having another kind of substation, such as one with solar power. Others talked about the substation & transmission lines and the impact that would have on the community, both as far as safety, since it is right next to a park, and stored jet fuel, and increasing asthma rates. Locating the substation there would also take away a much-needed soccer field. Also, the fact that East Boston is an environmental justice community was mentioned frequently. The airport, tunnels and highways are already there, creating much higher rates of pollution and asthma than wealthier communities.
Various speakers (including the Executive Director of GreenRoots) said this process has been going on for 10 years and this was the only public meeting.
Claire Miller, the Lead Community Organizer from Toxics Action Center was one of the speakers.
Janet Green, the Outreach Coordinator of Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN) spoke and reiterated some of the same concerns as above and added the following: She was particularly concerned about the electric substation being located next to jet fuel. Although she works for JCAN now, she used to work in a business located in the old Forbes Industrial Park in Chelsea, on the banks of the Chelsea Creek. Many years ago, there was an oil spill from one of the oil tankers that docked there. So, she experienced this pollution firsthand and fears that it is only a matter of time before something like this happens again.