Broadwater's Stacked Deck
Technically, FERC is conducting the environmental study and writing the impact statement. But Broadwater – that is, Shell and TransCanada – are paying for it. That means the people who stand to make a huge profit from a proposal to usurp a public resource have the ear of the federal regulators pretty much whenever they want it. It also means they have tremendous influence on how the environmental impact statement is written: how comprehensive it is, how easy it is to use and to understand, what gets emphasized and what gets underplayed.
As a friend explained it to me:
The fundamental issue under NEPA/SEQR [the National Environmental Policy Act and the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which govern environmental impact reviews] has always been on the one hand to force governmental decision makers to consider the environmental impacts of their decisions (integration of environmental values) versus “putting the fox in charge of the hen house.” FERC is to some extent the captive of the industry it regulates so it is hardly impartial. That is why the NEPA requirement for intergovernmental and intra governmental comment on the DEIS is so important. It is also why public scoping under SEQR is so important.
Never forget that Broadwater is paying the piper. The deck is stacked. But it’s not stacked so badly that the people who don’t want Long Island Sound to become the site of an industrial facility can’t win. The place to start, though, is at next week’s meetings.