In yet another uncovering of the dirty links between officials at MassDEP and Spectra, investigative journalist, Itai Vardi, discovered that MassDEP allowed Spectra to access and edit the draft air permit before it was made available to public. Talk about ethical violations.
"Since the compressor station will emit various pollutants, it requires environmental permits from state authorities. Spectra submitted an air quality application to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in October 2015.
Emails show that within a few months, state officials had already drafted a preliminary permit, or “Plan Approval,” of the application.
Then, in February 2016, the DEP’s Permitting Chief for the Southeast Region, Thomas Cushing, sent the draft for editing to David Cotter of Trinity Consultants, Spectra’s air pollution contractor in the project. Cushing wrote, “David, [A]s discussed, I attached a rough draft of the Algonquin approval for your review and comment.”
At that point, the draft was already written on the DEP’s official letterhead and addressed to Spectra’s Houston headquarters."
It starts to all become very clear when you see how MassDEP basically lets the industry--in this case Spectra/Enbridge--do all the work in the permitting process.
Yes, there are BIG ethical issues with this. It actually violates MassDEP regulations. And we suspect this is standard operating procedure. It's especially telling in the part where Spectra actually changed MassDEP's numbers for leak reporting.
FRRACS will be following up with this. Perhaps Gov. Baker might like to comment now?