Another day, another conflict of interest. Itai Vardi, of Desmogblog, has revealed that Spectra hired the contractor NRG for 5 separate projects. This brings into question NRG's ability to be impartial when reviewing the projects.
"While third-party contractors are paid by the pipeline company seeking FERC approval, they are considered independent analysts who work under the direct supervision of FERC staff.
Yet DeSmog has found that during the time of its hiring for AIM, NRG was providing environmental consulting services for two of Spectra’s pipeline testing and renewal projects on its Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline, which interconnects with the Algonquin Pipeline.
Records from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality show that the two Spectra projects, Hope 2013 DOT and Donaldson Site 1 2013 DOT, were carried out in the first half of 2013 and continued through July—that is, after FERC hiredNRG to review Spectra’s AIM project.
Two of them, Line 2-H and 2-H-1 Abandonment, and Bailey East Mine Panel 2L, were on the Texas Eastern Pipeline. Another project, Ozark Gas Abandonment, was on Spectra’s Ozark Gas Pipeline, which interconnects with Texas Eastern. A fourth one involved Spectra’s new crude oil pipeline in the Midwest.Then, within months after NRG began reviewing Spectra’s AIM project as FERC’s contractor, Spectra hired it to work on five of its other projects.
Finally, in October 2014 Spectra joined the PennEast Pipeline Company, a major pipeline consortium, which at the time was already employing NRG to perform public affairs work. The PennEast consortium, of which Spectra is a member, plans to connect to Algonquin Pipeline.
By hiring NRG directly for these additional projects, Spectra may have incentivized the contractor during the time it performed AIM’s environmental review on the government’s behalf."