A Call to Action in a David and Goliath Struggle

Dear Friends and Churches,

I am pastor of East Weymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. I would very much appreciate your prayers, support, and/or action. Our town of Weymouth, Massachusetts, and the larger South Shore region have been fighting a David v. Goliath battle for five years. The 3rd largest and wealthiest international gas company, Enbridge, is forcing a deadly gas compressor on us despite vehement bipartisan opposition from residents, 3 mayors, 6 city councils, 29 State Senate Senators, all 14 legislators of the South Shore, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Senator Warren, Senator Markey, Representative Stephen Lynch, emergency planning councils, public health researchers, climate scientists, and all major environmental groups of Massachusetts. The state senators in opposition stated that the application was fraught with “errors, inaccuracies, and obstructions,” especially for a site that suffers from the environmental and public health burdens of heavy industry already. The compressor would “pose a threat to the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Governor Baker and his Department of Environmental Protection have the power to shutdown this project, but well-supported evidence documents the governor’s financial ties to many gas companies and to Enbridge. Just this week, the Governor shut down vaping in Massachusetts. This compressor would be ONE GIANT VAPE of 39 carcinogenic toxins into residents’ lungs, including babies, pregnant women, and children—those most at risk. Substantial peer-reviewed scientific studies report on the grave harm to human health and safety this would unleash on residents. 

The membership of my church has voted to formally express opposition to the proposed Fore River Compressor Station because of its potential for health and safety ramifications for Weymouth and the entire region. A statement from congregation reads, “Jesus Christ commands us to care for each other, care for children, and care for the earth, and there is ample Biblical evidence to support this.” It then declares, “This proposal does none of those things.” We have members, youth, and children who have fought alongside with me in the trenches. We stand with a parishioner fighting breast cancer that her, her mother, and sister believe they got from living near the toxic site in question.

This 7,709 horsepower compressor would be close to two environmental justice communities in a small, densely populated area. It would spew carcinogens and threaten explosion in residential areas where cancer, leukemia rates, and heart disease are already higher than average due to elevated industrial toxins. The incineration zone includes schools, 3,100 kids, 1,000 households, and long-term care facilities. Internationally renowned public health biologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber has been to compressors and gas plants all over the world. She declares, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen in terms of health public safety risks.”

If you know of the famous 3-year-old known as Mighty Quinn, his parents wonder why he got brain cancer living here where neighbors mourn the lose of too many children and residents who have had cancer and leukemia. Mighty Quinn’s family and others would need to leave their hometown to keep their children safe.

It should finally be noted that fracked gas pipelines and gas plants are rapidly wrecking our climate and escalating global warming.

Enbridge threatens to start construction on November 1st. We are scared, overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, but we are not giving up. We, Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, are escalating our nonviolent actions this month. You can also help prevent this catastrophic situation by calling Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to urge them to deny remaining permits and stop the Weymouth Compressor Station. Governor Baker’s number is 617-725-4005. The Department of Environmental Protection’s number is 617-292-5500. You can additionally take an online pledge in opposition to the compressor station.

Thank you. 


Rev. Gretchen Elmendorf

East Weymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ


Categories: Column The Pollinator: UCC Environmental Justice Blog

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