Baker: State preparing for ‘worst-case scenario’ drought / Task force to survey damage as 16 percent of state suffers from extreme conditions

[Comment from SAFE Co-Chair Jeffrey Barz-Snell: “…here is today’s front page article about the Governor’s visit to North Andover to tour the effects and damage from the drought.”]

From Salem News staff writer, Zoe Mathews:

NORTH ANDOVER — Just hours before Gov. Charlie Baker set foot on Smolak Farms, the U.S. Drought Monitor announced an unprecedented 16 percent of the state, including the North Shore, is considered in “extreme drought.”

Joined by state administrators from various economic and agricultural agencies, Baker stood in front of a field of stunted crops at Smolak Farms and outlined steps citizens and municipalities alike can take in order to weather the lack of storms.

“We are preparing for the worst-case scenario,” said Baker, who recommended residents take small, cumulative steps to reduce water consumption, such as limiting outdoor water use and shortening their shower times.

“You might have to get a haircut,” to meet those demands, he said, offering a moment of levity during a time that has many deeply concerned.

Read more.

Amanda Sabga
AMANDA SABGA/Staff photos
Gov. Charlie Baker chats with Smolak Farms owner Michael Smolak, left, and Secretary Matthew Beaton of the office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Crops have been severely stunted by the extreme drought conditions that show no sign of ending soon.

As drought grows, towns need to cut water usage

[Comment from SAFE Co-Chair Jeffrey Barz-Snell: “The Ipswich River Watershed Assoc. is stepping up their efforts to engage communities in our area about water conservation. Salem and Beverly share a well designed water system but we do draw from the Ipswich River.”]

From a Boston Globe Editorial:

After five months of dry weather, the drought has grown from an inconvenience for gardeners to a looming public safety threat. The “drought index” indicating forest fire risk in Massachusetts is at the same level as it is in some parts of the Rockies. Some towns, including Concord, have raised alarms about the possible impact of low water levels on the ability of firefighters to pump enough water in emergencies. The state put all of central and northeastern Massachusetts under “drought warning” last week, the second-highest level of alert, one notch below a formal emergency. (Boston and close-in suburbs use the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which operates vast reservoirs in central Massachsuetts [sic] and hasn’t suffered from the drought. But the MWRA is still urging homeowners to conserve water.)

Read more.

Cracked earth and a hose in a dried-up pond that is usually used to irrigate crops at Siena Farms in Sudbury (JESSICA RINALDI/GLOBE STAFF).

One step closer: First American offshore wind turbines installed

Installation is now complete at the new Block Island wind power facility. On August 8, one member of the team tweeted, “I think it now qualifies as a ‘farm’ -2nd turbine completed last night #BlockIslandWindFarm@DeepwaterWind

From the blog of Greg Alvarez, on the American Wind Energy Association’s website ( —

American offshore wind power is one step closer to becoming a reality, with installation of the first turbines at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project now complete.

Construction on the country’s first offshore wind farm began last spring, off the coast of Rhode Island, and the project is expected to be fully operational later this fall.

With an installed capacity of 30 megawatts, the five-turbine Deepwater Wind wind farm will generate enough electricity to supply all of Block Island’s needs, while also sending some to mainland Rhode Island. This will be a clean, affordable and welcome development for Block Island’s residents, who have long had to rely on imported, expensive and polluting diesel fuel for energy.

Read more.

The Deepwater Wind offshore project is expected to be fully operational later this fall.

SJC nixes ‘pipeline tax’/Says Baker administration order violated intent of earlier laws

Ratepayers will not have not pay a special tax so that new natural gas pipelines can be built in Massachusetts.

From Bruce Mohl (Editor, CommonWealth Magazine) —

THE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT ruled on Wednesday that the Baker administration can not authorize the state’s electric utilities to tap their ratepayers for the money to finance a new natural gas pipeline into the region…

A new pipeline was expected to bring more cheap gas into the region and reduce electric prices, but opponents said a new pipeline would only increase the region’s over-reliance on a fossil fuel that is contributing to global warming…

The ruling means efforts to build a new natural gas pipeline into the region are effectively dead, although pipeline backers have said they will find another way to get the job done…

Attorney General Maura Healey joined the plaintiffs in opposing the DPU order. In a statement, she said “we know from our 2015 electric reliability study that there are cleaner and more affordable options for meeting our energy needs. The court’s decision makes clear that if pipeline developers want to build new projects in this state, they will need to find a source of financing other than electric ratepayers’ wallets.”

Read more.

One of the ads against the pipeline tax. From

Utilities under pressure to fix small gas leaks

Gas leaks that are a distance from buildings didn’t used to have to be repaired. That’s all hopefully changing.

From Christian Wade, who covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for The Salem News:

quotation marks

A recent Boston University study of 100 gas leaks in Greater Boston found that about 15 percent of those categorized as nonhazardous, “Grade 3” leaks are actually more serious Grade 1 leaks, [Audrey Schulman] said…

…Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, primary sponsor of the gas-leak measure, said utilities are focused on replacing old pipes rather than fixing leaks, which is slowing the process.

Consumers are unfairly saddled with the cost, she said.

“For the ratepayers, replacement is far more expensive than repair,” said Ehrlich. “This bill puts the focus back on repairs.”

Read more.

Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, was the primary sponsor of the gas leak measure. “For the ratepayers, replacement is far more expensive than repair,” she said. “This bill puts the focus back on repairs.”

Message to SAFE from Greenpeace: “We need solutions that are fast and affordable and that rules out new nuclear power.”

This is from Jim Riccio, Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst since 2001. He starts by commenting on the 2013 movie about “new nuclear power,” Pandora’s Promise:

quotation marks

…I do have this article from FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), which calls the film pure propaganda.

and this from Eco watch:

I also mentioned the articles by Joe Romm, a MIT physicist and climate advocate who has had an ongoing battle with the utter garbage produced by the BreakThrough
Institute & the PP [Pandora’s Promise] crowd. Here are a few of my favorites:

On Pandora’s Promise:

On BTI [Breakthrough Institute] :

And while I respect & supported James Hansen and his whistleblowing on the Bush administration’s climate change denial he doesn’t know nukes!

If we want to abate climate change we need solutions that are fast and affordable, and that rules out new nuclear power.



Jim Riccio, Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst since 2001

Movie Review by Edwin Lyman of UCS: Put “Pandora’s Promise” Back in the Box

[tomorrow: commentary on “new” nuclear power by Jim Riccio from Greenpeace]

Salem Alliance for the Environment has been getting a lot of questions from people about the safety and cost of new designs for nuclear reactors. We got in touch with Edwin Lyman at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program. He is an expert on nuclear weapons policy, nuclear materials, and nuclear terrorism. His comment on the 2013 film: “Put ‘Pandora’s Promise’ back in the box!”

“…The film also puts forth the Integral Fast Reactor, a metal-fueled fast breeder reactor, as a visionary nuclear reactor design that could solve all of nuclear power’s problems by being meltdown-proof and consuming its own waste as fuel. However, it glosses over the myriad safety and security problems associated with fast-breeder reactors. The film makes much of an experiment conducted at the EBR-II, a fast reactor prototype that purported to demonstrate the safety of the reactor. However, again engaging in cherry-picking, it did not discuss the fact that the tests only simulated some kinds of accidents, and that such reactors are inherently unstable under other conditions. It also does not bother to explain the very real proliferation concern that led the Clinton administration to terminate development of the reactor: the fact that spent fuel reprocessing, needed for the fast reactor fuel cycle, produces large quantities of nuclear weapon-usable materials in forms that are vulnerable to theft. Contrary to its portrayal in the film, reprocessing increases, rather than decreases, the volume of nuclear waste requiring disposal…”

Read the blog post by Edwin Lyman.


Edwin Lyman of Union of Concerned Scientists