Atlantic Bridge

Massachusetts Admits to 'Regularly' Allowing Companies to Edit Draft Pollution Permits

Protesters hold signs in the parking lot outside the Massachusetts DEP office

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) acknowledged they regularly allow energy companies to exclusively preview and revise draft permits as a matter of common practice.

This admission follows DeSmog’s reporting on emails showing the state had quietly provided Spectra Energy (now Enbridge) several opportunities to edit a draft pollution approval permit for a compressor station in the town of Weymouth as part of its Atlantic Bridge gas project.

Massachusetts Let Spectra Energy Secretly Edit its Pollution Permit in Atlantic Bridge Gas Project

Open house poster showing a Spectra Energy map of its Atlantic Bridge and other pipeline projects

Massachusetts environmental officials allowed Spectra Energy to quietly review and edit a draft approval of an air pollution permit the state plans to grant the company for its Atlantic Bridge gas project. 

According to emails obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, this privilege of reviewing and editing the draft approval was granted exclusively to Spectra and not to the general public.   

Emails Show Spectra Lobbyists Cozy With Top Massachusetts Environmental Officials

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton speaking

As Spectra Energy was seeking state permits for its natural gas projects running though Massachusetts, company lobbyists maintained a close and ongoing relationship with top state environmental officials, according to emails obtained exclusively by DeSmog through an open records request. 

Documents Suggest FERC Approved Spectra's Atlantic Bridge Project Despite Knowing of Contractor's Flawed Conflict Disclosure

Map of Spectra Energy pipeline projects at an open house for Atlantic Bridge

A document submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) suggests the agency had clear information that a contractor hired to review Spectra Energy’s proposed Atlantic Bridge gas project did not fully disclose its work for Spectra on a related project. FERC recently approved Atlantic Bridge, which would expand the existing Algonquin gas pipeline through northeastern states. The documents were obtained by DeSmog through an open records request. 

Despite Senate Inquiry into Potential Conflicts of Interest, FERC Approves Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge Project

Protester at a rally wears a t-shirt that reads 'FERC wake up'

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved the construction of a new gas pipeline project, despite an ongoing inquiry by two U.S. senators into a possible conflict of interest in its environmental review. 

Revealed: Ex-FERC Commissioner’s Multiple Rulings Favored Energy Companies His Wife Lobbied For

Numerous rulings by a former Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) favored energy companies his lobbyist wife worked for at the time, a DeSmog investigation can reveal.

Philip Moeller left FERC in late 2015 after nearly ten years on the Commission.

Throughout his entire tenure, Moeller’s wife, Elizabeth Moeller, was employed as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Washington DC-based firm Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw & Pittman LLP (Pillsbury Winthrop).

According to internal FERC documents obtained by DeSmog, the Commission’s counsel repeatedly authorized Moeller to rule on matters concerning companies represented by his wife or others at Pillsbury Winthrop.

Exclusive: Documents Show FERC-hired Contractor Did Not Disclose Work on Related Spectra Pipeline in Atlantic Bridge Project

Documents filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that a contractor hired by the government to provide an independent environmental assessment for Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge project did not disclose its work for Spectra on a related gas pipeline. 

Natural Resource Group LLC (NRG) was hired by FERC as a third-party contractor in February 2015 to review Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge — a proposed expansion of its existing Algonquin Gas Pipeline that runs through the Northeast US.

Yet as DeSmog first reported, at the time NRG was already working directly for the proposed PennEast Pipeline LLC, a consortium of companies including Spectra, that plans to bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Northeast markets. 

Now, according to conflict of interest disclosure documents obtained by DeSmog from FERC through a Freedom of Information Act request, it has emerged that while NRG acknowledged it was working at the time directly for Spectra on other projects, it did not include its work on PennEast. Spectra joined the PennEast consortium in October 2014 because the proposed pipeline will interconnect to its Algonquin Gas Pipeline, boosting its delivery capacities.

NRG thus seems to have had a financial stake in Atlantic Bridge — the project it was being asked by FERC to independently assess.

Following DeSmog’s Revelations on Spectra Pipeline, MA Senators Demand More Answers from FERC on Alleged Conflict of Interest

In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey demand new answers about an alleged conflict of interest in the environmental review of a proposed Spectra Energy natural gas pipeline project.

As DeSmog first reported, the Environmental Assessment (EA) for Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge project was carried out on FERC’s behalf by third-party contractor Natural Resource Group (NRG), which at the time was working directly for Spectra on a related pipeline, PennEast. Following these revelations, Sens. Warren and Markey demanded explanations from FERC Commissioner Norman Bay, urging him to issue a new and objective review for the project.

Senators Demand New FERC Environmental Review for Spectra Energy Project After DeSmog Revelations

Two US Senators have demanded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cancel the environmental assessment of a natural gas project after DeSmog revealed a potential conflict of interest in the process.

In their letter, Massachusetts Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey urged FERC to conduct a new and objective review into Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge project.

Residents and activists outraged about the potential impacts of the project had flooded both Warren's and Markey's offices with requests for intervention.

Writing to FERC Chairperson Norman Bay, Sens. Warren and Markey cite DeSmog’s findings at length and express serious concern over the integrity of Atlantic Bridge’s environmental assessment.

The Senators state that “this new information raises serious questions about the accuracy and objectivity” of the environmental assessment (EA).

The Atlantic Bridge project aims to expand Spectra’s existing Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline, which carries fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York and New England.

Revealed: Contractors Hired by FERC to Review a New Spectra Energy Pipeline Work for Spectra on a Related Project

A contractor hired last year by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review a proposed gas pipeline by Spectra Energy, had already been working for the company on a related project, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Such an alleged conflict of interest suggests that the contractor had a financial stake in approving the project it was hired to review.

As part of a formal Pre-Filing Review Process for Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge project, FERC hired in early 2015 a third-party contractor to review the pipeline. A proposed expansion of the company’s existing Algonquin Pipeline carrying fracked gas from Pennsylvania to the Northeast US and Canada, the project involves the construction of several new pipeline segments in New York and New England and a new compressor station in the town of Weymouth, Massachusetts. 

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