Hope for FERC changes

To the editor:

On behalf of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy I want to follow up on the excellent article in last week’s issue headlined “NEXUS construction will not be halted.”

Although, as the article points out, a majority of Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners denied a rehearing of the order approving construction of the NEXUS pipeline, the two commissioners, Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick, who registered dissents may play an important role in the coming months in changing FERC’s traditional rubber-stamp approval of new pipelines. Last Friday those two commissioners voted no to licensing a new pipeline near St. Louis. Commissioner Robert Powell is retiring later this month. Then FERC will be split: two Democrats, two Republicans. The Democrats can deadlock FERC’s approval process.

CSSE has urged senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to call for hearings into FERC’s abuses of law and of power. No hearings have yet been held, but FERC chairman Kevin McIntyre himself recently called for a review of four critical elements in pipeline approvals. Over 2,000 comments, including CSSE’s, were received before the July 25 deadline. Various industry groups urged no changes to the approval process – other than ways to speed it up, such as mandating quicker decisions by other agencies concerned with pipeline impacts. However, the vast majority of comments called for major reform. Most came from groups like CSSE, but they also came from the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C., who argue that FERC has not been following its own existing policy statement directing it to “consider all relevant factors reflecting on the need for the project.”

We hope future FERC decisions will be guided by Glick’s warning: “Climate change poses an existential threat to our security, economy, environment, and, ultimately, the health of individual citizens. Unlike many of the challenges that our society faces, we know with certainty what causes climate change: It is the result of GHG emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane, which can be released in large quantities through the production and consumption of natural gas.”

John Elder

Vice President, CSSE