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Sightline Calls Out EnviroIssues, A Consulting Firm, For Its Work With Fossil Fuel Companies

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Skagit County hired EnviroIssues to manage part of the public engagement process for Tesoro's proposed xylene project in Anacortes

A Puget Sound-area firm that worked for Northwest Innovation Works, the Chinese-backed company that wanted to build a methanol plant in Tacoma, is facing criticism. The consulting firm is called EnviroIssues and it does work for private- and public-sector clients that want to engage with the community on proposed projects.

A new report from the environmental think tank Sightline Institute raises questions about the firm’s potential conflicts of interest. 

EnviroIssues has done work for many local governments and recently has been working for Skagit County, helping manage the process of gathering public input on Tesoro’s proposed xylene project in Anacortes.

Sightline’s report said doing that work for Skagit County poses a potential conflict of interest because EnviroIssues has also worked for Tesoro. The firm worked on Tesoro’s proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, WA. 

"What we found is that EnviroIssues markets itself as a green firm that is interested in civic engagement and promoting environmental issues but in reality they do that as well as work for oil and petrochemical companies," said Eric de Place, policy director for Sightline. 

De Place pointed to EnviroIssues’ list of clients on its web site, which doesn’t include Tesoro or Northwest Innovation Works.

In an emailed statement, Amy Grotefendt of EnviroIssues said the client list is not comprehensive and that EnviroIssues is no longer doing work for either company. She said EnviroIssues stopped doing any work for Tesoro in 2013, and disclosed that relationship to Skagit County.

Grotefendt said the firm takes on controversial projects because it wants to engage communities in conversations about potential impacts.    

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.
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