BOSTON (State House News Service) – Gov. Charlie Baker seems receptive to touring the site of a proposed natural gas compressor station in North Weymouth, a request made by a project opponent who has been visiting his office regularly since February.
Weymouth resident Andrea Honore on Feb. 28 started spending 15 minutes of her lunch break sitting in Baker’s lobby to highlight her opposition the Spectra Energy project. Compressor station opponents have been urging Baker to join them in resisting it and organized a protest last year when he visited Weymouth.
On Thursday, Honore spoke with Baker not face-to-face in his office but over the phone during his monthly “Ask the Governor” appearance on WGBH Radio.
Introducing herself as “Andrea from your waiting room,” she invited Baker to visit the location, in an industrialized area on the banks of the Fore River, and told him, “We would love to have you.”
“I’ll talk to the scheduling people about it, Andrea,” Baker responded. “I hope you’re being well taken care of in the office.”
Honore praised Baker’s staff and the state troopers stationed outside his lobby, saying they’ve been “incredibly nice to me and welcoming.”
“We have a great time, actually,” Honore said. “I would very much like to speak with you, though.”
Honore told the News Service last month that Baker had walked past her five times on her lunchtime stakeouts but they had never discussed the compressor station. With a direct line to the governor on Tuesday, she did not press her stance or grill him on his.
Asked by co-host Jim Braude why he had not met with Honore, Baker said, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, we get — I don’t know.”
Newton Mayor Setti Warren, a Democratic candidate for governor, toured the station site on June 27, where he met with Honore. He issued a statement later that day opposing the project, which he said could put thousands of people living nearby at risk and would contribute to the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Jay Gonzalez, also seeking the corner office as a Democrat, said last month he has spoken with opponents and hopes to visit the site as well. He said he opposes the station because of the potential for “serious environmental, economic and safety impacts on the South Shore and its families.”
The Federal Energy Regulatory Pipeline Commission in late January approved the station, and the city of Weymouth has appealed for a rehearing with FERC. Baker has previously highlighted that the bulk of the decisions around the project are made at the federal level. On Thursday, he reiterated that and acknowledged the state’s role in implementing federal standards.
A caller identified as Rose in Covington asked Baker if he planned to change his “hands-off approach” to the station and other fossil fuel development.
“As I’ve said before, it’s a federal issue, but we do have a role to play here because we implement certain federal standards here,” Baker said. “We got a lot of really positive feedback from folks during the….public hearing process. We will hold those folks to the highest standard possible under the federal law. You can count on that with respect to both public safety, public health and the other issues associated with that.”
After speaking with Baker on the radio, Honore made her regular visit to his office lobby, in what she tallied as her 76th such appearance.
On Tuesday, members of Mothers Out Front plan a “Mothers Stand” with Honore. Organizers hope to have at least 50 people participate and will call on Baker to visit the compressor station site.