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Itai Vardi @itai_vardi
, 16 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
1/ The @MassDEP yesterday denied charges of conflicts of interest against a specialist hired by @Enbridge to oversee cleanup of a contaminated site for its proposed compressor station in #Weymouth
2/ even though Kelley Race of @TRC_Companies has been working on the project for both @enbridge and Calpine for nearly two years, current conflict of interest rules allow her to also provide cleanup services as a state-certified Licensed Site Professional
3/ Technically, the DEP is correct. According to its current rules, an LSP is not conflicted - unless they work for more than *one* interested party in a cleanup. But the case highlights the inherent, structural conflict of interest in the privatized toxic cleanup program
4/ The program was privatized in 1993 by the Bill Weld administration precisely in order to cut gov't costs and incentivize the business community. Incidentally, Weld now works for ML Strategies, one of Enbridge's many lobbying firms
5/ The program thus essentially allows the fox to guard the henhouse: energy companies are responsible for carrying out the cleanup of project sites, with very little regulatory oversight. They pay consultants to essentially rubber stamp every cleanup effort
6/ and a little anecdote from this case. In one of the emails I FOIA'd, Mrs. Race says she's asking her personal information to be redacted out of fears for herself and her family's safety, as the compressor station issue has become politically contentious. CC: @FRRACS_MA
7/ Another interesting thing is that Maria Pinaud, a DEP official who oversees the LSP Board, was alerted late in the process that she has to recuse herself from evaluating the charges against Mrs. Race, since Pinaud is also involved in air permitting for the station
8/ So Pinaud, a @MassDEP official, cannot be involved for fear of "bias" -- but it's somehow okay for a pipeline company to oversee its own toxic cleanups?
9/ Update: The LSP Board meeting minutes show that one Board member thought the fact Mrs. Race knew of a recently discovered oil contamination in the compressor site but *didn't* report it a month later at permitting meeting of the #Weymouth Conservation Commission "complicated."
10/ Still, the Board dismissed the ethics complaints against Mrs. Race, citing technicalities and saying she wasn't legally obligated to immediately report the contamination to the town's commission at the time.
11/ Board member Gregg McBride added another technicality: Race wasn't officially Calpine's LSP at the time, stepping into that role only two months later
12/ Interestingly, McBride works for GZA Environmental, a consulting firm working for Enbridge/Spectra on the proposed compressor station. Yet he did not recuse himself (nor was asked to do so), seemingly b/c the Board was not told the identity of Mrs. Race.
13/ Yet the Board's attorney admits this is a high profile case which received was already reported in the media - raising the real possibility Board members knew very well Mrs. Race's identity. Shouldn't he have been recused out of an abundance of caution?
14/ Adding one more layer of complexity: McBride is also a town Selectman in Norwell, just south of Weymouth.…
15/ Here's the Board's attorney informing its members the case was reported in the media.
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