Gov. Charlie Baker says those opposed to a controversial gas compressor in Weymouth should take it up with their congressional representatives -- not with the governor's administration.
"There are opportunities to engage this discussion, and they are at the federal level," Baker said in an interview with Boston Public Radio Thursday. "The folks who represent us at the federal level are the ones who ought to be talking to the federal government."
On Jan. 25, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the construction of the $450 million project that would transport natural gas from Pennsylvania into Maine and Canada. Baker has faced criticism from environmental activists and Weymouth residents for his resistance to resist the development. Alice Arena, who leads the group Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, or FRRACS, says Baker could at least attempt to resist.
"Governor Baker's statements on pipelines and compressors have consistently been a cop-out," Arena told WGBH News. "He has the power to insist that these departments hold [Canadian energy company] Spectra's and others' feet to the fire when it comes to permitting."
Baker wouldn't say whether or not he supports the compressor, only that the matter was out of his hands.
"If we were to choose to do anything other than to enforce the federal law, FERC could take it to federal court and handle it in federal court," Baker said. "If they decide to meet the federal needs of the United States with respect to infrastructure, that this is a project that should happen, then it's going to happen."
Back in February, Baker theoretically could have resisted the development through the Energy Facilities Siting Board, an intervenor in the FERC proceeding. But even then, FERC couldn't address appeals without five members -- and the commission currently only has two. Activists like Arena insist there's still hope for Baker to oppose the project and delay the permitting process.
"If he were to come out and say that, he gives political cover to his departments," she told WGBH News' Adam Reilly.
According to Baker, that opposition isn't likely. "In the end, FERC is going to make the call," Baker said. "My position is to enforce state and federal law."
Click the audio player above to hear the entire interview with Gov. Baker.