A contractor working for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in its environmental review of the proposed Atlantic Coast pipeline has ties to the project’s leading environmental contractor, DeSmog has found.
Merjent, a Minneapolis-based environmental consulting company, was hired by FERC in 2014 as a third-party contractor to assist in the review of the pipeline, a 550-mile multi-state natural gas project promoted by a partnership led by Dominion Energy and including Duke Energy and Southern Company. If authorized by FERC, the pipeline will ship fracked gas originating in the Marcellus Shale through West Virginia and Virginia, and into North Carolina.
As DeSmog reported in February, several associates and members of the new Trump administration’s transition teams have ties to companies behind the Atlantic Coast pipeline. A document leaked to the press in January revealed that the project was the only gas pipeline included by the transition team in a list of high priority infrastructure projects.
While third-party contractors are paid by the applicant pipeline company, they are considered independent consultants working under the control of FERC staff and are screened by the government for conflicts of interest.
Prospective contractors must disclose any potential conflicts to FERC. Disclosure forms must specify any past and current “direct or indirect relationship” with “any business entity” that “could be affected in any way by the proposed work.”
Merjent-Natural Resource Group Connections
DeSmog has found that Merjent has ties to the pipeline’s main environmental and engineering contractor, Natural Resource Group, which is also based in Minneapolis. Natural Resource Group has been working on the Atlantic Coast pipeline since it began its FERC application process in 2014.
Merjent’s website lists Natural Resource Group as one of its clients. The list includes various major energy companies such as Hess Corporation, TransCanada, and…