Recent work by investigative outlet, Inside Sources, shows taxpayer money was distributed from a Department of Transportation program to pipeline opposition groups. Records also suggest that leaders of pipeline opposition groups may have personally benefited from the taxpayer money.
TAG Grants, awarded by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), were halted in 2016 following another report from Inside Sources showing “…TAG is continuing to award grants to anti-pipeline groups in violation of its Congressional mandate.” It seems PHMSA is now back to using the same tactics:
“One of the grant recipients in the FY2018 program is the Pipeline Safety Coalition, which was given $99,938 to establish a ‘community safety awareness network’ in Pennsylvania. The Pipeline Safety Coalition has received more than $1.1 million through the TAG program in the past, despite having filed public comments against major pipeline projects in Pennsylvania.”
PHSMA admits to deeming TAG grants “low risk” but have not upheld their responsibility to ensure the money “…may not be used for lobbying, for direct advocacy for or against a pipeline construction or expansion project, or in direct support of litigation.” By providing pipeline opposition groups with funding to create and dictate misinformed narratives about pipeline projects in Pennsylvania.
The distribution of taxpayer money in Pennsylvania through TAG grants looks increasingly partisan and misappropriated after Inside Sources uncovered $50,000 awarded to the Pipeline Safety Coalition, led by Lynda Farrell, in 2012. Five months later, records show $30,000 of the award was spent at ‘Blue Heron Consulting’ – a small nonprofit run and operated out of the home of Lynda Farrell.
Distribution of TAG grant money to partisan, anti-infrastructure advocates like Lynda Farrell goes against the intent of the program. Farrell has been a known opponent to necessary infrastructure projects in the past, but somehow continues to win these grants, which pay for her anti-infrastructure agenda. What has not been proven is whether or not Ms. Farrell plans to comply with grant stipulations on this round of funding. She never proved that the funding was used accordingly in the past.
It is disappointing to see a regulator responsible for ensuring the public’s safety distribute taxpayer money so recklessly to opposition groups that only spread fear.