The House advanced legislation Tuesday to mandate an air-quality monitoring station near a proposed natural gas compressor station in Weymouth and to require additional reporting of existing conditions during the permitting process.
House Majority Leader Ronald Mariano, who described himself as fed up with decades of pollution in the Fore River area, promised constituents last month he would fast-track a bill (H 2909) requiring the Department of Environmental Protection to open a dedicated monitoring station within a mile of any new compressor.
On Tuesday, the House approved a Ways and Means Committee rewrite (H 4008) of the legislation that explicitly — and only — calls for an ambient air-quality observation setup on the Fore River Bridge, close to the site of the Weymouth proposal. The monitor would track concentrations of various air contaminants for as long as the compressor operates.
"Generations of residents in the Fore River Basin have been exposed to a disproportionate level of industrial pollution," Mariano said in a press release. "This legislation seeks to answer a basic question that has gone unanswered for far too long in the Fore River Basin: 'What is in the air we are breathing?'"
The nearest existing dedicated monitoring station is more than 10 miles away from the compressor location, advocates say.
The legislation also makes a key change in the DEP's permitting process, one that a hearing officer recommended even as she upheld an air-quality permit that had been appealed. If approved, it would require the department to consider background air-quality conditions when approving compressor projects, not just the expected emissions from such a site.