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People's Dossier of FERC Abuses: Consultant Conflicts of Interest

(Download Printable copy of "People's Dossier of FERC Abuses: Consultant Conflicts of Interest with attachments here)

FERC Routinely Uses Conflicted Consultants to Conduct Project Reviews and Make Recommendations

FERC routinely hires third party consultants to lead its project reviews knowing full well that these same consultants are simultaneously working as consultants for the pipeline companies seeking FERC approval for their projects.  The use of these conflicted consultants, that are operating on both sides of the FERC approval process at the same moment in time, sometimes even on directly related projects, injects an obvious source of bias and concern.

For example:

The FERC Environmental Assessment (EA) for Spectra Energy’s Atlantic Bridge project was prepared with the help of NRG, a third party contractor hired by FERC.  At the same time, Spectra had also retained NRG as a “public outreach and relations” consultant on the PennEast pipeline project, of which Spectra owns 10% interest. This means that NRG was hired by FERC to conduct an objective, unbiased review of Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge project, while at the same time receiving money from Spectra Energy to conduct the preliminary review for another of the company’s proposed pipelines (i.e. PennEast pipeline). Additionally, the two projects (PennEast and Atlantic Bridge) are physically connected, further entrenching the conflict of interest. It is no stretch of the imagination that NRG would financially benefit from Spectra’s Atlantic Bridge project if the project were approved, a project which NRG was partially tasked by FERC with “objectively” reviewing.  In fact, while NRG was conducting its “review”, Spectra hired NRG for no less than five other projects. (Attch 1)

FERC’s own handbook defines such a situation as a conflict of interest, stating a conflict of interest exists when a contractor has an ongoing relationship with an applicant. The conflicts involving NRG, Spectra, the PennEast Pipeline (FERC Docket No. CP15-558), and the Atlantic Bridge Pipeline (FERC Docket No. CP16-9) were brought to FERC’s attention by concerned community members and two U.S. Senators. Instead of conducting a new, unbiased review, FERC’s then-Chairman Norman Bay simply responded by quoting sections of FERC’s handbook on hiring third-party contractors. NRG’s review still stands intact because despite clear evidence to the contrary, FERC took NRG’s word that no conflicts existed. (Attch 2)

By way of further example:

Tetra Tech is a known consultant for FERC, most recently on the PennEast Pipeline project. Tetra Tech is also a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.  Founded in 2008, the Marcellus Shale Coalition works to advance production and distribution of gas fracked from the Marcellus and Utica Shales.  The support of the Marcellus Shale Coalition is not just well known, but is touted by the PennEast Pipeline company raising another significant conflict for FERC on the PennEast Pipeline project. (Attch 3)

Complete People's Dossier: FERC's Abuses of Power and Law 
available at  http://bit.ly/DossierofFERCAbuse

Supporting Documents