People’s Complaint & Call to Action


Our planet is in a CLIMATE EMERGENCY.

Humans, and all life, require a healthy, stable atmosphere to flourish. Our atmosphere and oceans are both under major assault, heating 10 times faster than any time in the last 65 million years, with the hottest years ever recorded occurring in the past 20 years.

There has been a devastating increase in the numbers, intensity and destructiveness of wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, sea level rise, fisheries collapse, and species extinction. Island nation-states are literally disappearing under rising seas as the planetary systems are breaking down.

It has been established by the entire global scientific community that human activity is driving this, and the fiercest destroyer of all is the carbon and methane released from burning fossil fuels.

Nature is not negotiating with humanity on either a timetable or a plan to reverse this onslaught on the atmosphere.  The only way to accomplish that is to stop burning fossil fuels. This requires that all available resources be immediately redirected toward ending the fossil fuel age and transforming our energy systems to use only clean and sustainable sources.

We all know this must be done.  In the face of this inevitability, the international petrochemical industry is intent on ripping apart the Earth to extract and sell as much fossil fuel as possible in this closing window of time.  The mechanisms by which the dwindling coal, oil and gas reserves can be extracted are getting more toxic and destructive.  The remaining sites where these fuels can be extracted are often pristine areas, indigenous lands, and increasingly publicly protected lands and waters.

Infrastructure overbuild for the transportation of these extracted fuels is like a present day gold rush to market, impacting frontline communities across the country.

Every government has the moral obligation to do everything in its power to quickly phase out the use of fossil fuels. European countries are going city by city, town by town, and doing everything they can to convert as rapidly as possible, and they are being successful.

It is especially imperative in the United States, with a national government run of, by and for the petrochemical industry, that state and city governments take the lead on this work.  Already, here in Massachusetts, the Town of Amherst voted this month to mandate that all new and improved municipal buildings be zero-energy effective immediately and that the town be fossil fuel free by 2050.

Existing fossil fuel infrastructure in Massachusetts is sufficient.  The building of any new infrastructure would lock us into fossil fuel consumption for many decades to come.

This is completely unacceptable.  The time is NOW for all our state agencies and authorities to take all possible steps to ensure that we protect the people, land, atmosphere and economy of Massachusetts, and to be a model for the rest of the country.

Along with our concerns about the climate emergency, we are seeing a deeply disturbing and frightening reorientation of the traditional role of government, at both the national and state levels:

1)  A rapid turning over of what has historically been considered our common wealth to corporate interests to use, degrade, and destroy for  private profit.

2)  A weakening of regulations and laws that have historically constrained the worst of corporate misbehavior.

3)  A redirection of the police powers of the state towards undermining constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment civil rights.


  1. The Sugar Shack Alliance is a direct action coalition bringing together people from the Northeast to nonviolently disrupt the fossil fuel industry and work towards renewable energy and climate justice. We are a council of Affinity Groups rooted in the principles of nonviolence. We inspire and train current and future activists in nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience. Sugar Shack Alliance acts upon the urgent need to protect the earth and all its inhabitants from climate change and environmental injustice, actively working towards a vision of a just, sustainable, and equitable world for all.
  2. Governor Charlie Baker … lead[s] an administration with work that spans… numerous agencies and departments… focused on making Massachusetts a great place to live, work, and raise a family, regardless of zip code.


This Complaint and Call for Action concerns the systemic failure of the Baker administration to rally the state’s administrative, legislative, legal and moral power to protect the welfare of current and future residents of this state, and the state’s common wealth: our land, water, atmosphere, civil rights, and cultural heritage.

Below we detail the ways that this has played out in your administration’s failure to quickly convert this state to clean energy, in compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act, most notably in your support for the building of a methane fracked gas pipeline partially through Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, land protected under Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution.


1. Giving Away The Common Wealth

The Baker administration failed the people of the Commonwealth when it gave away constitutionally-protected public land, the forest, wetlands, vernal pools, and other natural resources of Otis State Forest – our common wealth.

a. Article 97 of the Articles of Amendments to the Constitution of the    Commonwealth of Massachusetts

“The people shall have the right to clean air and water..; and the natural, scenic, historic, and [a]esthetic qualities of their environment; and the protection of the people in their right to the conservation… is hereby declared to be a public purpose.”

    1. Air – The Baker administration failed to protect the air when it allowed fossil fuel installations known to release raw methane and fracking chemicals as a matter of standard operating procedure.
    2. Water – The Baker administration failed to protect the water when it allowed fossil fuel project construction to impact, degrade, and destroy wetland resources.
    3. Conservation Land – The Baker administration failed to protect conservation land when it allowed a fossil fuel project that resulted in the permanent destruction of 29 acres of forest and 10 acres of wetlands in Otis State Forest.

2. State Agency Inadequacies

Repeatedly, the state agencies with jurisdiction over aspects of the Connecticut Expansion Project failed in their duty to protect and preserve the Commonwealth’s “natural” resources.

    1. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Failed to require impact avoidance and adequate habitat mitigation and failed when it accepted money as “fair trade” for resource losses. The Office continues to put energy before the environment, leaving mitigation as the only answer to environmental destruction.

        1. Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act certification process allowed the Connecticut Expansion Project to be illegally segmented from other proposals for the state, including the pipeline company’s other proposed larger project, to avoid having overall impacts viewed as compounded.
        2. Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Certificate accepted $300,000 payment into the Conservation Trust instead of requiring TGP/the pipeline company to acquire appropriate replacement land to satisfy mitigation of impacts on wetland resource areas, vernal pools and habitat.  Replacement land of similar natural and cultural characteristics will not be attainable with such insufficient funds.
        3. Grossly inadequate offsite wetland mitigation to replace lost forested wetland and vernal pool buffer.
        4. In the end, half a million gallons of water that was allowed to be withdrawn from Lower Spectacle Pond was lost from the watershed due to the pipeline company’s failure to protect it from contamination.
    1. Department of Conservation and Recreation

Failed in its stewardship of Otis State Forest in its dealings with Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

      1. Failed to stand up for the people of the Commonwealth when negotiating the Consent Judgement of the eminent domain taking of Otis State Forest land.
        1. Allowed construction and access permit requirements to be waived thus abdicating their role to hold the pipeline company to the highest  standards.
        2. Traded natural resources for cash when it took “the last option first”, accepting money instead of requiring replacement land as mitigation.
      2. Failed to enforce the Consent Judgment by being willing to “give away” the 7½ acre Spectacle Pond Farm field along Cold Spring Road for construction use, even though it was not part of the eminent domain settlement.

3. Department of Environmental Protection

Failed to protect the environment in their issuance of a 401 Water Quality Certificate and subsequent monitoring and enforcement of that certificate.

      1. Failed to consider viable alternatives to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to Otis State Forest and private properties.
      2. Certificate allowed “discharge of dredged or fill material into 461,915 square feet (> 10 acres) of ‘Waters of the United States within the Commonwealth’”
      3. Failed to implement adequate protections for vernal pools
      4. Failed to account for indirect impacts to wetland resources
      5. Failed to enforce their own prescribed condition requiring legal transfer of mitigation preservation land prior to initiating any work
      6. Allowed wetland violations by reinterpreting their own permit’s language.

4. Department of Public Utilities

Failed to protect the public in preference to the utility companies.

      1. Approved the “pipeline tax” designed solely to promote increased fracked gas consumption use by the Commonwealth, later struck down by the Judicial Court as a violation of the state’s 1997 Electric Industry Restructuring Act
      2. Fails to consider state’s greenhouse gas emissions policy in decision making
      3. Rubber stamps Capacity Agreement applications and Long-Range Forecast & Supply Plans, ignoring energy expert solutions that would reduce our fossil fuel use.

5. Department of Energy Resources

Failed ratepayers when they initiated the scheme that led to the “pipeline tax.” Failed again when they revised regulations on biomass to falsely classify an unhealthy, polluting, and destructive source as a form of clean energy.

3. Deregulation And Decimation Of Regulatory Bodies

The Governor failed to protect the environment from the beginning of his administration by crippling environmental departments.

    1. Executive Order 562
      1. Required that Massachusetts regulations do not exceed federal
      2. Adopted the pro-business vision of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts
      3. Overburdened already decimated agencies with yearlong regulatory review
    2. Early retirement schemes drastically reduced staff/removed knowledge base
    3. Budget cuts; failed to honor campaign promise to increase funding for the environment

4.  “Combo Platter” Approach To Energy Policy

Governor Baker failed the people of the Commonwealth with his allegiance to his utility company donors, instructing his administration to make minimal or only symbolic attempts at steering the Commonwealth to a path of clean, sustainable energy

    1. Received ‘C’ grade for environment and climate preparedness from Massachusetts environmental coalition, both years in office, 2015 and 2016
    2. Lack of leadership leaves environmental efforts lacking at a time when we need inspired action
      1. Supreme Judicial Court had to mandate compliance with Global Warming Solutions Act
      2. Administration energy department storage study found 600MW could be deployed, Baker administration settles for 200MW
      3. Continues to allow utility-demanded net metering caps to stifle solar industry.

5. State Law Enforcement Acting On Behalf Of Fossil Fuel Industry

Our Massachusetts State Police, who are tasked to serve and protect the public welfare, have instead become a private arresting force for Kinder Morgan.

    1. Arrested members on meritless charges that have repeatedly been reduced or thrown out.
    2. Members were arrested and removed at Kinder Morgan’s request so that construction could proceed.
    3. State Police have provided onsite private security services throughout the construction process, having billed Kinder Morgan in excess of $750,000 through September 30, 2017. [Update: $958k through Oct 28, 2017] [Update 2: $1,066,550.61 through Nov 22, 2017]


GOVERNOR BAKER, it’s time now to keep your commitments and:

  1. Oppose all new and expanded gas infrastructure; instead promote repair of failing infrastructure and advocate for energy efficiency, conservation and renewables;
  2. Hold state permits to the strictest regulatory standards; fully enforce and monitor all permits issued;
  3. Oppose electric ratepayer funding of gas infrastructure of any kind;
  4. Urge our grid operator, ISO-New England, to build the electric grid that our future demands; instead of lagging behind California and New York, make Massachusetts a model for clean energy and climate leadership; and
  5. Promote Environmental Justice by fully implementing Executive Order 552, making Climate Justice attainable for all.


November 15, 2017

                                                                                    The Sugar Shack Alliance