WITH A CRITICAL vote nearing in a divided town, the Healey administration urged officials in Somerset to keep moving forward with a factory at Brayton Point that could become a major supplier to the US offshore wind industry.
At a press conference on Monday, Gov. Maura Healey was asked if she has a message for Somerset this week. She referred the questioner to Rebecca Tepper, her secretary of energy and environmental affairs, but added: “Clean energy is something this administration has been very invested in and making that work for all involved is something we’re invested in.”
Tepper issued a statement of support for the project Monday night. “The proposed Prysmian manufacturing facility is a chance for tremendous economic development that will supply wind projects along the entire East Coast,” she said. “A former dirty coal power plant can be transformed into a cutting-edge cable manufacturing facility, bringing good-paying jobs, tax revenue, and economic growth to Somerset and the South Coast region.”
Tepper’s statement echoes what many local officials in Somerset have been saying, but a group of people living in the neighborhood adjacent to Brayton Point have pressed officials to ban the use of dirty diesel engines when ships are loading cable in port and require them to run on electricity. During the loading of cable, the vessels typically operate 24 hours a day for 10 to 14 days.
Prysmian promised to retrofit all of its ships to run on electricity when in port, but it said it would occasionally need to use non-Prysmian ships and couldn’t guarantee those vessels would run on electricity.
The zoning board in September voted unanimously to require all ships loading cable at the facility to run on electricity. A week later, after Prysmian hinted the provision could scuttle the factory and promised to limit the number of non-electric ships to one a year until 2041, the zoning board voted 2-1 to reconsider its earlier vote. Reconsideration is scheduled for Thursday.
The lone board member who dissented on the vote to reconsider has resigned from the board.
Neighbors of Brayton Point for years have endured noise and dust from companies that previously operated there, including one of New England’s largest coal-fired power plants and a scrap metal export business. The neighbors are urging town officials to stand firm against idling diesel engines.
But other residents of town are focused on the benefits of the factory — $9 million a year in property tax revenue once a $20 million tax break expires after six years, 300 new jobs, and a chance to transform Brayton Point into a staging ground for the offshore wind industry.
Tepper, in a September 26 letter to the zoning board, noted that her agency granted Prysmian an environmental permit to proceed with the project without converting any of its ships to run on electricity.
Shaky shelter situation: House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka offer tepid support for Gov. Maura Healey’s proposed cap on the state’s emergency shelter program and warn financial help from the federal government is unlikely with the US House leaderless. Read more.
Accessory dwelling units: The Healey administration sees accessory dwelling units, sometimes called granny flats, as low-hanging fruit in the push for additional housing. But the administration’s bid to make the units easy to build is likely to face pushback at the local level. Lowell, for example, recently backed off a plan to encourage them. Read more.
Vaccine politics: Patti Wukowits and Alicia Stillman, two mothers who lost children to meningitis B, urge federal officials to make it easier for families to fight the disease by approving an all encompassing pentavalent vaccine. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The state-run Massachusetts Convention Center Authority is falling short in its diversity and inclusion efforts, according to a report commissioned by the agency. (Boston Globe)
A developer in New Bedford is running into difficulty pitching transit-oriented development, even as city officials seek to allow more housing close to commuter rail stations that will connect the city to Boston. (New Bedford Light)
Milton officials had hoped to partially avoid the MBTA Communities law on multifamily housing by arguing that the Mattapan trolley line should not be considered “rapid transit.” The state’s housing agency on Monday rejected their argument. (Boston Business Journal)
Leominster is still working to address about $40 million in damage from September floods. (Worcester Telegram)
A Boston-area dentist who tore posters down showing Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas has been from the dental practice where she worked. (Boston Herald)
Massachusetts is one of 13 states taking part in an IRS pilot program for a free, electronic tax filing system, called “Direct File.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren is among the supporters of the pilot, which has drawn fire from the tax-prep industry. (American Prospect)
Harvard professor Danielle Allen says by any honest reckoning there are three parties in Washington – the Freedom Caucus Party of far-right Republicans, the Old Republican Party, and the Democratic Party. She said Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries should be House speaker after consistently receiving more votes than any other candidate in the succession of ballots held in recent days. (Washington Post)
In the tiny town of Washington, no one ran for a vacant Select Board seat but the town held the election anyway. A former Select Board member was elected with 17 of the 34 write-in votes. It’s unclear whether he will serve. (Berkshire Eagle)
The Globe endorses incumbents Ruthzee Louijeune, Julia Mejia, and Erin Murphy along with newcomer Henry Santana in the race for four at-large Boston city council seats.
The startup bubble has burst, and it’s having some effect on university endowments. MIT reported a loss of 2.9 percent. (Wall Street Journal)
Gov. Maura Healey and Attorney General Andrea Campbell issue joint guidance on how colleges and universities can promote diversity and still comply with a recent US Supreme Court decision barring the use of race in admissions. (State House News Service)
Bishop Fenwick High School in Lawrence urges a Superior Court judge to issue an injunction against the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association for barring all of the school’s sports teams from participating in tournament play. (Daily Item)
Holyoke school committee officials say Jeff Riley, the state’s education commissioner, told them “the climate was favorable” to remove the school system from state receivership. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Voters reject a merger of the Berkshire Hills and the Southern Berkshire regional school districts, which serve a total of eight towns. (Berkshire Eagle)
Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he will no longer participate in Harvard fellowship programs, arguing the letter by students in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel represents “dangerous antisemitism” at the university. (MassLive)
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a ban on the chemical that contaminated water in Woburn and was linked to a cluster of childhood leukemia cases there. (Associated Press)
A new beech tree disease has been found in 90 Massachusetts communities. (WBUR)
Some prisoners at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster say they have launched a hunger strike to protest a secure adjustment unit that they say is a form of solitary confinement. (WBUR)