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 Blog. 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. “Suter should have, at the least, disclosed to FERC the conflict, and recused herself from these projects,” says Neil Gordon, an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group monitoring money in politics.
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.
By Itai Vardi for Desmog – Numerous rulings by a former Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) favored energy companies his lobbyist wife worked for at the time, a DeSmog investigation can reveal. Philip Moeller left FERC in late 2015 after nearly ten years on the Commission. Throughout his entire tenure, Moeller’s wife, Elizabeth Moeller, was employed as a lawyer and lobbyist for the Washington DC-based firm Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw & Pittman LLP (Pillsbury Winthrop).
By NBC 29 News. NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will not conduct a study on three pipelines projects, including the hotly contested Atlantic Coast Pipeline, slated to cut through Virginia. FERC’s study would have analyzed potential environmental, social, and economic impacts associated with these natural gas pipelines. Many groups, including the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, are unhappy the study is off the table. The chapter’s director, Kate Addleson, released a response to FERC’s choice to not move forward with an environmental impact statement. Addleson believes the study was, “necessary to assess the need and consequences of the proposed pipeline projects in Virginia.” Addleson also says the choice is in direct opposition to the requests of landowners, concerned citizens, and even elected officials.
By Jonathan Crawford for Bloomberg – Tony Clark was wrapping up dinner with his family when the doorbell rang. He didn’t need to answer. He already knew who it was. Anti-fracking activists had followed him home, taping “wanted-style” posters with his face plastered on them across his leafy suburban neighborhood outside of Washington. Coming up to his front door was the last straw. He called the police. And as they arrived, Clark’s 9-year-old son asked: “Why are the police here? Is it because you work for the government?”
By Staff of Beyond Extreme Energy – Activists from Beyond Extreme Energy interrupted the Virginia Energy Policy Forum in Hampton today to dramatize forcefully our conviction that current policies of the U.S. government, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Dominion Resources and others represented at the event are wrong-headed and dangerous. As U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was addressing the forum, BXEers Steve Norris and Lee Stewart walked in front of the stage carrying a banner that said: “NO LNG EXPORTS.” and “Guys, we ain’t asking … Clean Energy Now.”
By Ted Glick – In the 1970’s I was active with an Anti-Displacement Committee group in downtown Brooklyn, NY. We worked with tenants who were facing pressures, some of them very intense, from unscrupulous landlords trying to force the tenants out so they could jack up the rents or go coop in the gentrifying area where I lived. Several times we successfully used a particular tactic to fight them: demonstrating at the home or public office of the landlord, alerting his neighbors to what he was doing.
By Itai Vardi for Desmog – A contractor hired last year by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review a proposed gas pipeline by Spectra Energy, had already been working for the company on a related project, a DeSmog investigation has found. Such an alleged conflict of interest suggests that the contractor had a financial stake in approving the project it was hired to review.
By Itai Vardi for Desmog – A business advocacy group lobbied for the reappointment of a federal energy commissioner while one of its own members sought approval for several projects from the same federal regulator, a DeSmog investigation has found. In the past three years, natural gas infrastructure giant Spectra Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval for a number of projects in the US Northeast.