Weymouth: New Energy Coalition “Powers Forward”

Front and center: Judeth Van Hamm of Hull, co-president of Sustainable South Shore, speaks out on fossil fuels during the launch event for a new statewide clean energy coalition, "Mass Power Forward," held at the Newell Playground in Weymouth.

Front and center: Judeth Van Hamm of Hull, co-president of Sustainable South Shore, speaks out on fossil fuels during the launch event for a new statewide clean energy coalition, “Mass Power Forward,” held at the Newell Playground in Weymouth.

 

Environmental, community, and religious leaders from across the South Shore joined forces for a press conference in Weymouth Wednesday (September 9)  to launch a new energy initiative called “Mass Power Forward.”

“We urge our governor and state legislature to really ‘power forward’ and make the smart, healthy, clean choices for our communities and our environment,” said Michelle Weiser, a community organizer from Toxics Action Center in Marlborough, one of nearly 80 groups comprising the statewide alliance.

“We have environment organizations, faith, community [and] local leaders,” Weiser said. “We’re really at such an exciting crossroads in our energy policy-making. We can decide, ‘Do we want to go forward and have clean, renewable energy, or do we want to be locked into fossil-fueled reliance for decades to come?’

The coalition is trying to send a message to the State House, where representatives are currently considering several energy bills.

“We are winning, and we want that message to be heard loud and clear statewide,” Weiser said, adding that at the moment, six simultaneous press conferences were happening in conjunction with the Weymouth event: in Boston, Holyoke, Somerset, Peabody, and Pittsfield. “And all those locations are either fighting dirty energy or advocating for clean, renewable energy.” 

Members of the coalition oppose what they call “dirty energy” such as coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power.

Turner Bledsoe, a Hingham resident and co-coordinator of the group “350 Mass for a Better Future,” believes the nation should end its dependency on fossil fuels.

“We are at the threshold of a major disaster,” said Bledsoe. “We’re fighting the incoming fossil fuel industry. They’re trying to build a pathway to export through us [and] they want us to fund it.

“The fossil fuels that they want to market,” he added, “are big enough to tip us into the point of no return.”

Judeth Van Hamm of Hull, co-president of Sustainable South Shore said of the newly-formed alliance, “I think the fact that people from all these different organizations and from the entire state are working together on renewable energy and helping shift the whole state from gas and oil to renewables — that’s what’s important.”

Van Hamm spoke during Wednesday’s rally at the Newell Playground in Weymouth, along with representatives from other organizations in the coalition, including Alice Arena of Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station and Anna Baker of Pilgrim Coalition, along with Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay, who opposes a proposed natural gas compressor station and pipeline project in Weymouth. 

“A major event at the gas compression station could damage or close the Fore River Bridge,” said Kay, adding that the project is “not welcome in Weymouth.” 

The coalition formed ahead of a legislative hearing on energy, scheduled for September 29.

“Right now there are three different bills that are going to be heard,” said Weiser. “One is being sponsored by Governor Baker, one is sponsored by Rep. [Pat] Haddad, and the third is sponsored by Senator [Benjamin] Downing.

“We have to decide what kind of Commonwealth we believe in: a state that looks within to local clean energy resources, innovates and excels while keeping us safe, or a state which guts clean energy and instead subsidizes the construction of immense gas pipelines, allows problematic nuclear reactors to continue operating, and turns it back on neighborhoods exposed to emissions,” said Weiser. “And, really, the stakes have never been higher… Our energy choices today will shape our communities tomorrow.”

Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay is flanked by members of the newly-formed clean energy coalition, "Mass Power Forward," speaking out against a proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth during the group's rally at the Newell Playground.

Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay is flanked by members of the newly-formed clean energy coalition, “Mass Power Forward,” speaking out against a proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth during the group’s rally at the Newell Playground.


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About Erin Dale

Erin Dale is an Anchor/Reporter for WATD. She is also a New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA) award-winning print journalist and previously worked for GateHouse Media.