By Stephanie Roker for World Pipelines – Over 130 organisations across the country recently announced that they will oppose nominees made by the Trump Administration to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The move reflects the growing resistance nationwide from residents, farmers, business owners, physicians and environmentalists to FERC’s practice of recklessly permitting pipelines that put hundreds of communities and the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk, in addition to the global climate. The 135 groups range from dozens of local community organisations and activists to national nonprofit organisations (Beyond Extreme Energy, Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch and Green America)…
By Beyond Extreme Energy. Over 130 organizations across the country announced today that they will oppose nominees made by the Trump Administration to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The move reflects the growing resistance nationwide from residents, farmers, business owners, physicians, and environmentalists to FERC’s practice of recklessly permitting pipelines that put hundreds of communities and the drinking water of millions of Americans at risk, in addition to the global climate. At a time when citizens are increasingly calling on Senators to oppose appointed officials that support the fossil fuel industry, the pledge signers, representing over a million people nationwide, pledge to work against each nominee to FERC made by the Trump Administration, and to call on U.S. Senators to use the nomination process to highlight FERC’s rubber stamping of pipeline projects and refusal to listen the legitimate concerns of community groups.
Responding to two letters sent by members of Congress urging President Donald Trump to prioritize nominating candidates for vacant Commissioner seats at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in order to restore the necessary voting quorum, 136 organizations representing communities in all 50 states sent a strong letter of rebuke to the Congressional signers of the letters. The two letters, dated February 22, 2017, were signed by a group of 14 House Democrats on one and 92 additional members of Congress on the other. The letters urged Mr. Trump to put forth the nominations in order to restore the FERC Commissioner quorum necessary to take formal action on energy issues. In addition to urging swift action by the President, on one of the letters the Congressional members promised “to do our part”, suggesting that they would likewise take swift action to approve nominees put forth by the President.
By Staff of Society of Environmental Journalists – Dear Chairman LaFleur and Commissioner Honorable: As a professional news media organization, we are writing to express our concern about the procedures your agency uses to gather public comment. The Society of Environmental Journalists is a 26-year-old professional organization dedicated to excellence in environmental journalism. Many of our 1,274 members are journalists who cover FERC actions, whether locally or nationally. It’s critical to our members’ reporting on FERC actions to explain factors you weigh in your decision making and the public feedback you receive. At a February 14 public comment meeting in Wilson, N.C., on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Docket Nos. CP15-554-000 and CP15-554-001), we understand that rather than following the traditional “town hall” procedure, where people who wished to comment could speak in front of others in attendance, FERC switched to what its spokesperson later described as a “listening session.”
By Lisa Sorg for The Progressive Pulse – Just 15 minutes after the doors opened last night, the auditorium at Forest Hills Middle School — a public school — in Wilson was beginning to fill with people. But the “public” listening session about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline wasn’t really public. And only select people could listen. Hosted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the four-hour listening session was intended to take public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding the pipeline. But FERC officials prohibited the media (there were just two outlets –NCPW and the Wilson Times) from interviewing citizens, recording comments or taking photographs inside the auditorium — even with permission from the citizens themselves. Reporters were allowed to do their jobs outside of the auditorium but could not be present for the listening sessions themselves.
By Fossil Free Rhode Island for IR Future – , D.C.—At the status hearing today in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, three of the FERC4, Peter Nightingale of Kingston RI, Claude Guillemard of Baltimore, MD, Ellen Taylor of Washington, D.C., and Donald Weightman of Philadelphia, PA, committed to representing themselves at their criminal trial, scheduled for June 21, 2017. The FERC4 were arrested with three other activists during a peaceful protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in May, 2016. The action was part of the Rubber Stamp Rebellion, a demonstration led by the activist group Beyond Extreme Energy. The FERC4 have been charged with “unlawful entry,” Attorney Mark Goldstone will advise the FERC4 and represent Ellen Taylor, who stated: “We need to show the world that FERC is on trial.”
By Lorne Stockman for Oil Change International – Long before Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway took the phrase ‘alternative facts’ mainstream, a rogue federal agency with authority to ram giant gas pipelines through people’s property against their will has for years pioneered the Trumpian version of reality when assessing the climate impact of natural gas infrastructure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an “independent” agency that regulates the interstate transmission of gas and electricity, has permitted nearly 200 interstate gas pipeline projects stretching over 6,000 miles since 2009, and rejected only a single application. For each of these permitted projects an environmental impact statement was conducted. Where climate was assessed in these studies, the conclusion has always been the same – “no significant impact”.
By Mark Clatterbuck for Lancaster Online – For three years, residents of Lancaster County have demonstrated unprecedented opposition to the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Yet when Williams gas company sent a brief letter to FERC asking that a decision be made seven weeks early —for no other stated reason than the company’s own convenience — FERC eagerly obliged. The decision was so premature that the commissioners themselves had to include a 100-page addendum of issues that had yet to be resolved before permission could legally be granted. The LNP Editorial Board last week opined that “protests and arrests aren’t going to change the reality” of this situation. To the contrary, history has shown that large-scale, nonviolent civil disobedience is one of the few, and arguably most effective…
By Kevin Zeese for Popular Resistance. FERC scheduled one-on-one isolating and dis empowering listening sessions in doubletree hotel in Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg a huge military base. So APPPL and CWFNC and others organized public hearings next door in a Rodeway Inn. A multiracial multigenerational group of native Americans, Afro Americans, Latinos, whites, veterans, farmers, long term and recently inspired activists came together to challenge Duke and dominion’s $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline. There will be other people’s hearings on Tuesday in Wilson,NC and Wednesday in Roanoke Rapids, NC TO challenge FERCs plutocratic attempt to bully the people and ram this monster through.
By Anne Meador of DC Media Group on Facebook. Washington, DC – The public was barred from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting scheduled for 10 am Thursday. Over 30 Department of Homeland Security police met Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) at the front doors, preventing entry to what organizers are calling a sham meeting with industry insiders. “It’s a ‘denial of citizens rights’ and prevents the public from taking part in Energy policy proceedings,” said organizer Ted Glick, with Beyond Extreme Energy. He called on FERC to be transparent and follow their mandate to put the public interests before oil and gas industry profits. Over 60 persons allied with BXE had planned to attend the meeting to express opposition to an increasing number of fracking energy infrastructure projects.
(Portland, OR) A massive natural gas export project aimed at the Oregon coast is on life support after the federal government ruled against it late Friday afternoon, December 9, 2016. The Jordan Cove Energy Project, a $7.6 billion terminal and pipeline plan to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia from Canada and the Rockies, was refused by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The first-ever rejection of federal permits for an LNG export project came in the wake of an 11-year coordinated grassroots campaign against this LNG terminal and pipeline in southern Oregon. “We’ve been fighting this project for more than a decade,” said Ted Gleichman, a political advisor to the Center for Sustainable Economy.
By Mark Hand for DC Media Group – Described as the first-ever “People’s Hearing” challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), more than 60 speakers presented testimony on why they believe the agency systematically fails to listen to the concerns of the general public. A panel of “judges,” fashioned similar to the monthly FERC open meetings, presided over the Dec. 2 hearing, held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Unlike the real FERC meetings, speakers did not run the risk of getting escorted out by security guards for standing up and expressing dissent with the agency’s decisions.
By Itai Vardi for Desmog – Phil Suter, the spouse of Maggie Suter, a high-ranking official at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who led the review for two gas pipeline projects by Spectra Energy, is a paid consultant for Spectra on a related pipeline project. Experts on ethics in government regulatory bodies told DeSmog this case raises serious red flags, amounting to what appears to be a conflict of interest.
By Wendy Sol for the Indypendent. AIM is short for Algonquin Incremental Market Project, one of a number of pipelines that are being built in the Northeast to transport natural gas from fracking fields in Pennsylvania to New England and on to markets abroad. If completed by Nov. 1, as planned, AIM will carry approximately 342 million cubic feet of gas to Boston and other ports in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Spectra is also increasing capacity by more than a third on an existing pipeline that runs within about 100 feet of generators at the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson in Westchester County, about 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.With Spectra intending to have AIM ready by the beginning of November, groups that have opposed the project since it was first proposed to federal regulators in 2014 worry they are running out of time to halt the pipeline and are escalating their activism.
By David Cay Johnston for the Daily Beast. By law FERC must balance the interests of pipeline owners and pipeline customers using the “just and reasonable” theory that owners are entitled to reasonable profits and customers to reasonable prices. Instead, it favors pipelines (and other monopolies it regulates) because most of the commissioners come from—and later go back to—the industries they regulate. In Judge Sentelle’s most recent previous decision in the matter he allowed the fake tax to be imposed by the pipelines using reasoning I think is specious. Sentelle made clear that he was deeply vexed by the idea of making shippers pay a tax that is not imposed by Congress. However, he ruled that, since FERC had explained its rationale, it was beyond the court’s authority to challenge the regulatory decision. In his latest ruling Sentelle seems to recognize his error, but unfortunately he did not block the fake tax from being collected. Instead he told FERC to undertake yet another rule-making proceeding. Based on past history you will keep being dinged for this fake tax. There is an easy solution to this and the man to solve it is Norman C. Bay, current FERC chairman. Bay can ask commissioners to vote on ending the inclusion of the corporate income tax in the rates that pipelines charge customers like United Airlines. But I doubt he will unless the public demands action to make sure that pipelines charge only for actual expenses.