Itai Vardi

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Itai Vardi is a sociologist and freelance journalist. He lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts.

Koch-Backed and Anti-Renewable Energy Groups Wooing Interior Department Official

Read time: 5 mins
Vincent DeVito

Fossil fuel groups backed by the Koch brothers and lobbyists for anti-renewable energy entities have been courting an Interior Department official responsible for energy policy, according to internal documents. Vincent DeVito, a senior energy advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, has received considerable attention from these groups, accepting several invitations to closed meetings and conferences.

FERC Allowed Chairman McIntyre to Participate in Decisions Concerning his Former Clients

Read time: 3 mins
FERC's McIntyre and Glick

Ethics officials at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — the agency responsible for approving energy infrastructure such as interstate oil and gas pipelines and overseeing utilities — recently gave the OK for its new chairman, Kevin McIntyre, to be involved in decisions concerning two of his former clients and previous firm, DeSmog has found.

Pipeline Exec Refers to Activists Opposing Construction Near Bald Eagle Nest as ‘Awful Soulless People’

Read time: 5 mins
Bald eagle near Neversink River, New York

In a Twitter exchange that quickly devolved into a shouting match and the slinging of insults, an executive for a pipeline company called activists “awful soulless people.” Michelle Smith Hook, Director of Public Relations at Millennium Pipeline Company, was responding to heated tweets by activists in New York state who say the company is planning to construct a pipeline near a nesting bald eagle with eaglets, which are protected by federal law.

Pennsylvania Lawmaker Advancing Pro-Fracking Legislation Profits from Leasing his Land to Drillers

Read time: 4 mins
Eugene Yaw

A Pennsylvania state senator, who is responsible for a slew of legislation favoring the oil and gas industry, leases his own land to fracking companies, recent disclosure documents show. Last year, veteran lawmaker Gene Yaw of Lycoming County profited from royalties he received from several different drillers.  

FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Spent Much of His First Months in Office Meeting With the Fossil Fuel Industry

Read time: 6 mins
Rob Powelson

In his first few months at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), commissioner Rob Powelson scheduled the great majority of his meetings with fossil fuel energy companies and utilities, his work calendar shows. The calendar, obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, can be viewed below.

Nominated to FERC by President Trump, Powelson began serving on the commission last August. He previously served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Trump Officials, Energy Execs Speak Together at Conference Sponsored by Climate Denier Groups

Read time: 6 mins
Sign at Climate March: 'Denied facts are still facts'

Last December groups promoting climate change denial sponsored a two-day conference which brought together energy executives and lobbyists with Trump administration officials.

According to the conference’s agenda, which DeSmog has obtained exclusively, the participating energy and utility companies included Dominion Energy, General Electric, and Georgia Power. Officials from the Departments of Energy and the Interior were among the panelists.

Government Contractor Monitoring Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project Works Extensively for the Company

Read time: 5 mins
Enbridge building

A contractor working for the federal government to monitor construction of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge natural gas project works for the company in various other capacities, according to documents DeSmog obtained through an open records request.

Early last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project, which aims to upgrade Enbridge’s natural gas capacity in the Northeast U.S. The Atlantic Bridge project was originally initiated by Spectra Energy, which was purchased by Enbridge last February.

On Eve of Key Atlantic Coast Pipeline Decision, Here’s a Review of Dominion’s Ties to Decision-makers

Read time: 4 mins
Natural gas pipeline construction site in Pennsylvania

Starting on Thursday, December 7, the state of Virginia’s Water Control Board will convene for three key meetings to decide the fate of a number of contentious pipeline projects. On the agenda: whether or not to grant a water quality permit to the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile long, multistate fracked gas project led by Dominion Energy.

Virginia Won't Say Whether its Official Spoke at Gas Industry Panel on Curbing Pipeline Protesters

Read time: 6 mins
Anti-pipeline sign

A high-ranking Virginia state official was listed as participating in a gas industry-sponsored panel that discussed strategies for confronting public opposition to new infrastructure projects, including the Atlantic Coast pipeline. Yet Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration has refused to provide any explanation or even confirm the official’s appearance on the panel.

The panel took place during the American Gas Association’s (AGA) State Affairs Meeting, held in early October this year in Scottsdale, Arizona. Also presenting on the panel was a Dominion Energy executive, Bruce McKay, who shared his company’s experience in countering protests and engaging in what he called a political “campaign to elect a pipeline.”

Did Northam’s Office Try to Hide the Dominion Executives and Lobbyists Sitting on His Transition Team?

Read time: 3 mins

Virginia’s Democratic governor-elect, Ralph Northam, announced his transition committee this week. In a press release, his office listed 85 individuals who will comprise the “bipartisan” committee, representing Virginians “from across the Commonwealth who will join him over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful administration.”

But there is something odd about the list of people and their affiliations, or lack thereof. Dominion Energy — the state’s most powerful corporate player who will need certifications from the Northam administration for its pivotal Atlantic Coast pipeline — doesn’t appear once on the list.

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