NiSource Conflict Analysis


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This was a group project I completed in Autumn of 2008, for a class on Resolving Social Conflict about environmental issues. My team conducted a stakeholder and conflict analysis covering an Environmental Impact Statement submitted by NiSource Columbia Gas in 2007, which included a request for a 50-year Incidental Take Permit.

This analysis included the interests, frames, goals, and concerns of NiSource, the Ohio EPA, environmentalist groups, local landowners, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and other state and local agencies. We also addressed the permitting process, as well as legal issues related to the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This SlideShare presents our analysis and recommendations for conflict prevention.

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NiSource Conflict Analysis

  1. 1. NiSource Columbia Gas: Conflict Analysis Anna McCreery Amanda Nahlik Ryan Pilewski Kristina Slagle Chris Stoneburg
  2. 2. NiSource Columbia Gas BackgroundNiSource is a natural gas distributer and is responsible fortransmission pipelines and storage facilitiesOn 11 October 2007, submitted a notice of intent to applyfor Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance permits • Request for a 50-year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) •To construct, expand, and maintain pipelines • Without requiring permits for individual projects •ITP protects NiSource from liability associated with the incidental “take” of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  3. 3. BackgroundNational Environmental Policy Act(NEPA) of 1969 •NEPA involves U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service •Public meetings legally required •Allows for comment by the general public and affected stakeholders
  4. 4. Background•Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)must be provided by NiSource•Mitigates and protects any affectedspecies and “ensure that the taking isincidental to, and not the purpose of,an otherwise lawful activity”•Required for Incidental Take Permit(ITP)•1-mile corridor across the 17,000miles of pipeline
  5. 5. LocationNiSource operates a network of pipelines in 17 states  Midwest, Southern, and Eastern United StatesEight states are included by NiSource in a multi-region Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP)Ohio has the largest expanse of pipeline: 3,000 miles or one-fifth of the total pipeline
  6. 6. Current Timeline
  7. 7. The Problem ESA compliance permit process  Time consuming  Expensive NiSource and USFWS had discussions to reduce costs associated with individual projects 50-year “Blanket Request” Eastern Spadefoot ToadDisputes Lengthy permit request “taking” of endangered species Landowner property rights
  8. 8. NiSource: Roles and Strategies Activities may impact environment, applying for ESA compliance permits.  Role = Applicant Maintain a modest and professional identity frame  No evidence of elevating or righteous self-images Negative characterization frames are often embedded in environmental conflict  Has avoided using such frames Interest to keep the support of the stakeholders  Stakeholders’ positions are important because they can influence the permit process
  9. 9. NiSource: Interests Interests:  Blanket ITP saves time and money Perspective:  “hot tub” group: Shared values between NiSource and the stakeholders Concerned with matters of interest  most stakeholder groups are concerned with matters of principle Believe environmental and economic development are important and compatible
  10. 10. NiSource: Goals and Frames Goal:  Create a HCP that serves their own needs for an ITP while meeting the principles of the environmental and land owner stakeholders Framed under the Misunderstanding Model:  NiSource is increasing communication with stakeholders in hopes that an agreement will materialize
  11. 11. NiSource: ActionsNiSource put time, money, and effort into a pre-negotiationphase Identified over 1300 potential stakeholders Used formal invitations, emails, websites, and media announcements to publicize meetings Held “open house” scoping meetings in each region involved in permitsIn holding scoping meetings, NiSource has Actively involved stakeholders Passed information along Collected ideas for improvement from stakeholdersBy maintaining open communication, NiSourcehas so far avoided conflict spirals
  12. 12. NiSource: Approach Collaborative Approach  Cooperating with other parties, but assertive concerning their own needs NiSource has  Openly accepted written suggestions from stakeholders  Outlined and organized each concern and suggestion  Compiled results from scoping meetings into a public “Scoping Report” Plans on addressing each of the stakeholders’ concerns in the draft HCP  Also will be open for public review
  13. 13. U.S. Fish & Wildlife ServiceRoles & Responsibilities Draft an EIS Evaluate NiSource’s HCP Hear comments from other stakeholders, and incorporate them into the process Decide whether to grant an ITP to NiSourceInterests Protect endangered species by enforcing the ESA Enable building or maintenance projects to be undertaken carefully, and with appropriate protections
  14. 14. USFWS: Approach to the Conflict Collaborating with NiSource Involving other stakeholders through the public scoping process They have not yet taken a position, and will not do so until the draft EIS is complete Framing the issue as “business as usual”, despite the unprecedented 50-year time span
  15. 15. Environmentalist Groups Group Principles ToolsOhio •Air/Water •LitigationEnvironmental Quality •LegislationCouncil •Land-use •ScienceBuckeye Forest •Forest •Member activismCouncil Preservation •Legislative communicationOhio Chapter of •Environmental •Grassroots Activismthe Sierra Club Preservation •Litigation •Education
  16. 16. Environmentalist Groups: FramesFrame Substantive Identity OutcomeType:What it Characterize Who we are Focus is on is: substance of conflict outcomeHow it’s “This is an assault “Environmental “We do not want used: on the ESA!” Protectors” this 50-year ITP to be issued.”
  17. 17. Public & Private Property Owner RolesRole of the Public and Land Owners: •Provide comments, information and suggestions to the USFWS and NiSource for their development of the EIS and HCPIssues: •pipeline siting •eminent domain and land use rights •health and safety •environmental impact •more stringent enforcement of ESA
  18. 18. Landowner Contacts •Specific landowner contact information was undisclosed •Landowner comments were listed anonymously Public Comments by Landowners: •Concerns about property rights •Questions about the use of herbicides and pesticides in pipeline management •Disclosure to the landowners of such chemical use
  19. 19. Similar Case: Rockies Express Pipeline (REX)• Proposed 42 inch, 1,323 mile natural gas pipeline systemColorado to Clarington, Ohio• Citizens have voiced concerns and questions over theline placement• “Keep homes at a reasonable distance from the pipeline,minimizing land devaluation and potential dangers”(Residents Against the Rockies Express Pipeline)• Use of the popular website YouTube "Stop the REX Pipeline!"
  20. 20. ~NIMBY~ ~GOOMBY~ ~LULU~ In the REX case: Hard framing of the issue by land owners mistrust among landowners with governing bodies and private companies laying claim to pipeline routes in their back yardPhoto Credit:
  21. 21. State and Local AgenciesRoles & Responsibilities Provide comments and suggestions to coordinating agency/organization Make sure the project maintains the best interests of state and local agencies
  22. 22. State and Local AgenciesInterests Protect state endangered and threatened species  Making the sure the federal agencies involve state and local agencies during the process Protect the environment  Have an understanding of social and economic development needs
  23. 23. State and Local AgenciesApproach to the Conflict Provide worthwhile comments to the coordinating organization All affected state and local parties are involved Make sure state and local agencies have the ability to review plans and procedures Make sure state threatened and endangered species are included in conservation plans
  24. 24. Issues NiSource has already responded to some issues by including:  candidate and threatened species in addition to nationally endangered species to their incidental take list  adaptive management plan if the current HCP is not working for a particular species Proposed timeline not followed  Draft HCP release delayed until early 2009  Information not updated on websites or timelines In need of better communication of their progress through  Website and directly to participating stakeholders
  25. 25. Issues 13 scoping meetings were scheduled, averaging roughly one meeting per state Potential stakeholders may have been missed or excluded due to meeting locations  USFWS made the Scoping Report and meeting information public  Allowed for written comments USFWS received minimal comments from the public scoping period related to:  Notice of intent  Application for a permit USFWS expects more substantive comments from the public after the Draft EIS is released
  26. 26. Recommendations for Resolution• Conflict is in early stages of development • Too early to predict • Too early for specific recommendationsGeneral Recommendations• Increased Communication between Stakeholders • Delays in original timeline • Updates on progress• Negotiation Meetings • Neutral third party • Increased communication • Compromise
  27. 27. Thank you!Questions?