Itai Vardi

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

Firm of Top Biden Advisor Anita Dunn Works for Fracked Gas Giant Dominion Energy

Read time: 3 mins
Anita Dunn in the White House

An uproar ensued last week within Democratic party circles with the news that Heather Zichal, a former fossil fuel company board member, is serving as an advisor on climate change to presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Yet the fossil fuel connections of Biden’s burgeoning circle of advisors do not end with Zichal.

More Evidence of Undisclosed Carcinogens at Site of Enbridge’s Proposed Greater Boston Gas Project

Read time: 4 mins
lab

Newly uncovered air quality samplings by the State of Massachusetts showed elevated levels of carcinogens and other pollutants at Enbridge’s proposed natural gas compressor station in a densely populated site near Boston.

The data, revealed in written testimony this week by a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official responding to an appeal over the Weymouth station’s air permit, joins other samplings showing toxics in the area, which DeSmog exclusively reported last month.

After Approving Enbridge Permit, Massachusetts’ Environment Secretary Lands Job with Project’s Contractor

Read time: 4 mins
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary

Massachusetts’ Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs, Matthew Beaton, has accepted a position at a consulting firm working for oil and gas pipeline builder Enbridge on a controversial project for which Beaton’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently approved a crucial permit.

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration announced on Monday that Beaton has been hired as vice president for renewable energy and emerging technology at TRC Companies, a large environmental and engineering firm working mainly for the oil and gas industry.

Wined and Dined by Energy Industry Consultant, State Utility Regulators Met With Its Client

Read time: 6 mins
Wine toasting

A consulting firm that organizes official missions abroad and conferences for state utility commissioners used the links it cultivated with these regulators to advance its own client’s interests, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Documents obtained from several state public utility commissions through open records requests provide a glimpse into the methods employed behind the scenes by Gee Strategies Group, a veteran energy consulting company.

Exclusive: Air Permit OK’d After New Evidence of Carcinogens at Enbridge’s Planned Gas Facility in Massachusetts Left out

Read time: 6 mins
Billboard against the Weymouth gas compressor station in Massachusetts

In the Greater Boston area, Enbridge is planning to build a controversial natural gas facility at a densely populated site which already has elevated levels of previously unreported carcinogens, documents obtained by DeSmog suggest.

Despite receiving new information indicating the current presence of these pollutants in the air around Enbridge’s proposed gas compressor station in Weymouth, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not include the data in the project’s health impact assessment (HIA) which it oversaw. The assessment, which was published 10 days later, found that human health likely will not be affected by direct exposure to the station.

Massachusetts Hired Energy Industry Execs to 'Independently' Review State’s Gas System

Read time: 5 mins
Gas marker in Cambridge, Massachusetts

A private contractor employed by the state of Massachusetts to conduct a statewide safety review of its gas distribution companies hired gas industry executives for the project, documents obtained by DeSmog show. They include two former executives of National Grid —  one of the companies under review — and Enbridge, a main supplier of gas in the state.

Exclusive: Rhode Island Governor Nixed Agency Critiques of LNG Facility, Silencing Health and Justice Concerns

Read time: 5 mins
two people holding a fabric banner outside of National Grid's facility in Providence, RI. Sign reads: "NATIONAL GRID DON'T KILL OUR KIDS!"

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, squashed a letter by her own state health agency, which raised serious concerns about a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in a densely populated Providence neighborhood. Documents obtained by DeSmog show that last summer Raimondo nixed a letter by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) critical of National Grid’s Fields Point Liquefaction project right before it was to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC approved the project three months later.

Enbridge Gave Massachusetts Studies by Climate Denier, ALEC Associate in Gas Project Assessment

Read time: 7 mins
report book papers

As part of an ongoing health evaluation of a proposed and contested Boston metro area gas compressor station, the energy distribution company Enbridge shared with the State of Massachusetts materials from dubious and controversial sources. As documents obtained by DeSmog reveal, these include studies by a climate change denier and an official associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers-backed group working to undermine environmental regulations. 

Virginia Air Board Member Who Approved a Controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline Permit Has Links to a Dominion Gas Partner

Read time: 6 mins
Protest against Atlantic Coast pipeline outside a 2015 Dominion shareholder meeting

A member of a Virginia state permitting board who last week approved a highly controversial certification for Dominion's planned Atlantic Coast pipeline has business ties to a company currently collaborating with Dominion on a related gas project, DeSmog has found.

William (Trip) Ferguson joined three other Air Pollution Control Board members to unanimously approve a permit for Dominion’s Buckingham compressor station. The planned station, which will propel the natural gas as it moves through the 600-mile interstate pipeline, will be built in Union Hill, a largely African-American community settled by free blacks and emancipated slaves after the Civil War.

In Massachusetts, 'Independent' Studies of Gas Infrastructure Use Industry Data and Consultants

Read time: 7 mins
No compressor billboard

Massachusetts has contracted two major studies of its natural gas infrastructure, billing both assessments as “independent” efforts. Yet the fact that they use industry consultants and data has raised doubts among critics about their level of objectivity.

While one study is evaluating the state’s overall gas distribution system, the other assessment explores the potential health risks associated with Enbridge’s proposed compressor station in Weymouth, just south of Boston.

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