This story seems to be getting some traction, which is good. Can't say it will fix everything, but these issues need to be brought to light and addressed.
Masslive covered it this week, read it here, or below.
"U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey are demanding answers about an alleged conflict of interest in the federal review of a natural gas pipeline proposal.
The Houston-based Spectra Energy proposes three related projects that would impact eastern Massachusetts: Access Northeast, Atlantic Bridge, and the Algonquin Incremental Market project, or AIM.
The required Environmental Assessment (EA) for Atlantic Bridge was conducted on behalf of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by contractor Natural Resource Group, which at the time was working directly for Spectra on a related pipeline, PennEast, the climate watchdog DeSmogBlog reported in May.
"Such an alleged conflict of interest suggests that the contractor had a financial stake in approving the project it was hired to review," the article stated.
Warren and Markey subsequently wrote to Norman Bay, chairman of the commission known as FERC, saying the environmental review should be scrapped, and that a new, more stringent Environmental Impact Statement should be conducted by consultants with no financial connection to Spectra.
Bay wrote back to say proper procedures were followed in the selection of Natural Resources Group, and "no disqualifying conflict of interest was identified." He said in the past 15 months, FERC had disqualified eight contractors for apparent conflicts.
Warren and Markey responded last week with a series of focused questions, asking if Spectra or NRG had disclosed any potential conflicts to FERC, and if FERC had conducted an independent review to determine whether any such claims were valid.
A FERC spokeswoman said Bay would respond to the Democratic Massachusetts senators in writing.
As for Spectra, the company downplayed its involvement with NRG in the PennEast Pipeline, saying it is a minority owner. "Spectra Energy is not responsible for managing the PennEast project, which would include coordination with NRG regarding public affairs work for the PennEast project," the company wrote in a filing with FERC.
Under the law, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is responsible for reviewing and permitting interstate natural gas pipeline proposals.
PennEast is essential to the AIM, Atlantic Bridge and Access Northeast projects because it would connect the Marcellus region with the Algonquin Gas Transmission Pipeline owned by Spectra.
The trio of Spectra projects are meeting with organized resistance, especiallyregarding a 7,700-horsepower compressor station planned for the South Shore town of Weymouth. The projects collectively would expand pipeline capacity up the east coast from New Jersey into Canada while powering electricity generators and feeding local gas utilities.
DeSmog also alleges a conflict regarding Spectra's AIM project, saying NRG performed an Environmental Impact Statement for AIM, thereby working for Spectra at the time it was hired by FERC to review Spectra. Spectra then hired NRG directly for five other projects, "potentially incentivizing the contractor to provide a beneficial assessment for AIM."'