Former Energy Secretary engaged in compressor review while negotiating job with TRC

Well, well, well--verified unethical behavior from former Sec. Matt Beaton. So funny how he unilaterally decided that Weymouth did not deserve a MEPA review when asked by the mayor. Guess he had to prove to his new masters that he could be relied upon. Many, many thanks to Itai Vardi for his excellent journalism.

Read it and weep, Campers.

Desmog - Massachusetts Energy Secretary Engaged in Enbridge Facility Review While Negotiating Job With Project’s Consultant (link)

Excerpt: “While still in office, Massachusetts’ former energy and environmental secretary Matthew Beaton, who recently left his post for the private sector, took part in discussions about a natural gas project involving his new employer, DeSmog has found.

According to documents obtained through an open records request, former secretary Matthew Beaton participated in a meeting and received briefings on Enbridge’s planned natural gas compressor station project in Weymouth near Boston after he began negotiating a transition to a job with TRC Companies, the project’s main environmental consultant.

Beaton, who Governor Charlie Baker appointed secretary of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) in early 2015, abruptly left the administration on May 1 this year. He took a position as vice president at TRC, a large environmental firm whose clientele includes the oil, gas, and utility industries.

A text message between Beaton and TRC’s president and CEO Chris Vincze from mid-March this year indicates Beaton had been planning his departure from at least that point — and likely earlier.

In the message, Beaton sought information concerning ethics issues, wondering whether he needs to disclose his negotiations with TRC. “Hey there. Question,” Beaton texted Vincze on March 18. “Are you aware of any TRC direct matters that may or have ever come before me at EEA? Obviously there are some interactions with some of our agencies but I have been told that direct count.” …

Internal EEA emails indicate that during that timeframe, Beaton participated in several matters concerning the compressor station, a highly controversial project that has recently landed the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in hot water over its withholding of air pollution data as part of the air quality permitting, a revelation which was made public in a DeSmog investigation.

The DEP under Beaton provided Enbridge with an air permit in January this year, an authorization that is currently under appeal.

On April 2, Beaton had a conference call about the compressor station with Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

That call likely involved issues relating to public safety because it included the state’s Secretary of Public Safety Thomas Turco.

Then, on several occasions during April, Beaton was copied on email briefings about an audit carried out by his DEPconcerning a soil inspection of the compressor site which TRC conducted. That audit faulted TRC with several deficiencies, including a mischaracterization of toxic coal ash on the site as “historical fill.”

DEP ordered TRC and Enbridge to correct these shortcomings and issue a new analysis and remediation plan for the site by next month.

TRC’s Vincze, a Republican, has close ties to Governor Baker. In 2016 the governor endorsed Vincze’s wife, Janet, when she ran for the state’s Republican Committee. According to state campaign finance records, the Vinczes donated a total of $6,500 to Baker since 2010, while TRC employees gave the governor nearly $30,000 in that timeframe.

According to EEA spokesperson Katie Gronendyke, “Secretary Beaton sought guidance from the State Ethics Commission and took actions consistent with this guidance.”

TRC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.” (Desmog 2019)