This is an issue that was raised by many LNG opponents in public hearings on both the Bradwood LNG project and the related Palomar Pipeline project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates the LNG industry (or pretends to) is caught in a huge, obvious conflict of interest issue since it has been discovered that the contractor it used to write the Bradwood Environmental Impact Statement is also working for the Palomar pipeline.
Essentially, the same contractor is simultaneously writing environmental documents for both FERC and the energy industry - on the same project!!
Okay - some background is needed.
NorthernStar is proposing an LNG terminal at Bradwood, Oregon. The project involves a huge liquefied natural gas import terminal and a 35-mile pipeline through Columbia and Cowlitz Counties. In order to write an EIS for this project, FERC decided to hire an outside contractor. This contractor is Natural Resource Group. FERC does this all the time, and the contractors essentially just regurgitate whatever they are given by the energy company. The Bradwood Draft Environmental Impact Statement was written by NRG and was absolute unadulterated garbage.
But things are getting interesting, now, because a second pipeline has been proposed to connect to the Bradwood LNG terminal. The Palomar Pipeline is the true takeaway pipeline for the Bradwood project, and will extend over 200 miles across NW Oregon to an interconnect with a California-bound TransCanada pipeline near Madras. In order for the Bradwood project to be viable, it absolutely needs this Palomar pipeline. Otherwise, the gas can't get to California. So, it was no surprise when we found out about the big Palomar pipeline. FERC is violating the law, essentially, by considering these projects as separate when they are clearly connected. It's much easier to permit these projects in a piecemeal fashion. Bradwood LNG and Palomar are essentially one project, particularly the Western half of the proposed Palomar line which would not be built without the Bradwood project. NW Natural (aka NW Nasty) is involved in both projects, as well.
Okay, this brings us to a few months ago when we discovered that Natural Resource Group is working for Palomar!! They are working both for the energy companies and for FERC - simultaneously! The Daily Astorian recently broke this story, which has been a simmering controversy in FERC for a while.
It is now obvious that FERC's own contractor has a huge financial interest in getting the Bradwood project approved. If Bradwood is approved, then the Palomar project becomes much more viable - and the FERC contractor is also working for Palomar. NRG will make more $$ by writing a shoddy document on Bradwood and giving the FERC commission a rose-tinted view of the Bradwood project. And this is exactly what happened. The Bradwood EIS is outlandishly cursory in its analysis and ignores huge potential negative impacts to fish, public safety, the local economy, and wildlife in the area.
If anyone ever doubted that FERC is a corrupt, rogue, agency, then this puts that doubt to rest. The Governor and the Attorney General of the State of Oregon should be engaged in forcing FERC to re-write the Bradwood EIS.
Michael Carrier, Gov.'s Natural Resource Policy Advisory (503) 986-6525 email@example.com
Gov. Ted Kulongoski
60 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, Oregon 97301