Task force to seek ban on power plant construction
Writing new legislation to temporarily halt all construction of fossil-fuel power plants in Massachusetts is the next step for the Regional Task Force on the Brockton Power Plant.
At its meeting Wednesday night, members from Halifax, Hanson, Whitman, West Bridgewater and Lakeville agreed to work together to draft a moratorium bill, which would give lawmakers time to assess environmental risks and more thoroughly investigate the community impact of fossil-fuel power plants.
“If we are going to build new fossil-fuel plants ... where should they go?” asked attorney Eugene Benson, program director for the nonprofit Alternatives for Community & Environment, which is providing free legal counsel to Brockton and West Bridgewater on the issue. “A moratorium is a chance to take a breath and say we’re changing and rethink how that’s done.”
“How many coal plants are still not in compliance? And if we expect state and federal government to protect us, they don’t,” said Halifax Conservation Agent John Delano.
The 350-megawatt, gas- and diesel-burning plant would be built on Brockton’s south side near the West Bridgewater line. It’s being proposed by Boston-based Advanced Power Services NA.
The state Energy Facilities Siting Board gave a license to the plant in July, but three appeals of that decision have been filed and the company still needs approvals from the city of Brockton.
With 10,000 pages in documentation, member towns expect the process of opposing the power plant to be lengthy.
“A lot of problems aren’t getting solved in Washington and I think a lot of times problems have to work themselves all the way down to the local level to get anywhere,” said West Bridgewater Selectman Matt Albanese.
Brockton resident and Stop the Power volunteer Anne Beauregard said that some expect 2010’s ballot issues to include a moratorium on power plants and she said she expected petition signature sheets to be circulating soon.
“We know that ballot questions get attention so it seems that’s one direction we should be going in,” said Beauregard.
“The siting board members said (recently) they were not familiar enough with environmental justice and they would do a better job ‘next time,’” said NAACP Brockton Unit President Frances Pina. “Well, ‘next time’ doesn’t do us any good.”
“Plants like these are located primarily in minority and low-income communities ... and Brockton is one such place,” said Pina. “Somebody should be accountable to enforce these policies ... I’m hoping the task force will do this.”
Mike Mullen, chief of staff for state Rep. Christine Canavan, discussed House Bill 4241, a home-rule petition sought by Brockton to ban power plants in the city.
Mullen said the House was in agreement with the bill but some senators believe the language is too broad in scope.
The next task force meeting is scheduled for Jan. 7 at the West Bridgewater Middle-Senior High School auditorium at 7 p.m.