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Court Vacates Weymouth Compressor Air Permit

Protesters stand in front of the gate of the proposed compressor building site on the Fore River in Weymouth. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Protesters stand in front of the gate of the proposed compressor building site on the Fore River in Weymouth. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A federal court has vacated a critical permit for a natural gas compressor station being built in Weymouth, leading to speculation about the facility's future.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) granted the air quality permit after contentious hearings last May, during which MassDEP admitted that the project's provisional air permit was based on incomplete data, and opponents derided the process as "unfair" and "irresponsible." On Wednesday the First Circuit Court of Appeals found that MassDEP did not follow its own established procedures, and asked the department to re-do its analysis.

Construction began on the station last December, and it's unclear if the court decision will stop it. But Alice Arena, president of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, says the facility can't operate without an air permit.

"So let’s just say for instance that they were fully constructed and they were ready to turn on the gas," Arena said. "They can’t."

A spokesperson for MassDEP said that the department "is reviewing the court opinion."

The 7,700-horsepower Weymouth compressor will be part of the Atlantic Bridge Project, operated by energy giant Enbridge. The project will  allow delivery of natural gas through Massachusetts to New England and Canada.

Barbara Moran Twitter Senior Producing Editor, Environment
Barbara Moran is the senior producing editor for WBUR’s environmental vertical.

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