Statement

We are deeply disappointed with Secretary Durand’s decision to approve MBTA’s Environmental Impact Report. Just in the last week, the report has come under fire as "deficient" by EPA, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program has noted that it does not meet criteria for obtaining environmental permits.

There are a number of options for rail service to Fall River and New Bedford. Caving to political pressure, the Secretary has chosen to consider only the most environmentally-damaging alternative, straight through the middle of the Hockomock Swamp. The Secretary’s only major concession, a two-mile trestle elevating the train for a portion of the route, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the complex ecology involved, as well as a lack of trust of his own experts, who had argued that a trestle would not adequately protect rare species.

This project is not going to move forward as proposed. The regulating agencies have all signaled that the project is so destructive that MBTA will never be able to acquire the relevant permits. By pushing an impossible project, the Secretary will cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars, and we will be no closer to getting rail service to Fall River and New Bedford than we were a decade ago.

The Hockomock swamp is an ecological treasure, and PEER will continue to fight this misguided project. The science and the law are on our side.

Kyla Bennett, Director of New England PEER