A coalition of environmental organizations including Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, and New Jersey Conservation Foundation has asked that the Inspector General at FERC investigate the retention of Tetra Tech to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement for the PennEast Pipeline proposal. Tetra Tech relies heavily on the oil and gas industry to maintain profitability and stated in their 2014 Annual Statement that “a decline in demand [for oil and gas services] could adversely affect our revenue, profits, and financial condition.” We are asking the Inspector General to investigate how Tetra Tech was selected and their biases.
“The basic tenant of the National Environmental Policy Act is that the analysis is unbiased and a high quality document. If the preparer of the document is not disinterested in the subject of the EIS, how can the product be trusted?” said Mike Pisauro, Policy Director of the Stony Brook- Millstone Watershed Association.
We are concerned that the process is tainted, especially in response to public comment process and information. There were six public hearings with hundreds of comments and thousands more of written comments. Many of these comments were highly technical and need to have a thorough review in response. Tetra Tech would be responsible for interpreting this information from the hearings and responding to them to set-up the environmental review process. If they are biased or have a conflict of interest, then how can they fairly represent or respond to public comments?
“How can Tetra Tech do an independent analysis when they are member of a coalition that supports this pipeline? The coalition they are a member of will benefit from this project. This is an outrageous conflict of interest. FERC needs to uphold the integrity of the process and remove Tetra Tech. This conflict of interest puts doubt on entire FERC process. Tetra Tech doing this
work puts the Delaware Valley, environment and citizens at risk since this whole process is tainted because of this conflict of interest. Tetra Tech will be responding to the issues being raised by the public. How can they publically analyze and respond when they have a conflict? That’s why we are now asking for an investigation into how Tetra Tech got this contract,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Tetra Tech has been at all the public Scoping Meetings to explain the PennEast pipeline project and answering questions from the public. They will be the company that will be responding for FERC about the issues being raised by the public at the scoping meetings. Tetra Tech will be handling the work for the EIS. As a member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, whose purpose is to promote fracking and bring Marcellus Shale gas to market, we find this to be a huge conflict of interest.
The PennEast Pipeline is being built to transport Marcellus Shale gas to New Jersey and other places. At the Bethlehem scoping hearing a representative, Shari Williams, from Marcellus Shale Coalition spoke in favor of the project and the Coalition has endorsed this project. Are they speaking on behalf of Tetra Tech as well?
“We really need an examination of the relationships between contractors in the FERC approval process and industry interests. The EIS is such a critical component of this process and it must be conducted to the highest standards and with utmost objectivity,” said Alison Mitchell, Policy Director of New Jersey Conservation.
The PennEast Pipeline will cut not only create an ugly scar through the Delaware Valley, but will destroy important habitat, pollute high quality streams, rivers, and cut across important C1 waterways. All together this pipeline will be cutting through 39 parks, 88 waterways, 44 wetlands, and 33 farms and other open space areas. We believe that this pipeline violates the Clean Water Act and cannot meet the criteria for 404 permits because the amount of high quality streams, wetlands, and rivers it is crossing through. Many of these streams carry anti-degradation criteria. The route will cut areas with steep slopes having a bigger impact on streams because of siltation and runoff. The new pipeline route will be crossing where the streams are wider than they were before, having a greater impact on streams and flood plains. Many of these streams are C1, the Delaware River itself is a Special Protection Waters river, impacting the highest water quality waterways in both sides of the river. The pipeline cuts through scenic areas and farmlands impacting tourism and the arts as well as historic areas and past historic sites. It would also have many impacts on endangered species and their habitats.
“Given the scope and impact of this project, how can Tetra Tech do a proper review if they have a conflict?” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.