FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION NOMINEES LACK EXPERTISE AND DEFLECT RESPONSIBILITY ON ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND CLIMATE 

FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION NOMINEES LACK EXPERTISE AND DEFLECT RESPONSIBILITY ON ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND CLIMATE 

MARCH 22, 2024 – This week, the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee attempted to erase this simple truth: ENERGY is ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE. 

Yesterday, the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Committee Hearing for FERC Nominees: David Rosner, Judy Chang, and Lindsay See. For the entire hearing, the Committee and candidates FAILED to mention environmental justice. Further, the nominees plainly avoided answers on the Commission’s responsibility to public health and climate change mitigation. This kind of status quo does not serve the American people: We need POTUS and the Senate to commit to nominating and appointing those with the qualifications, aptitude, and dedication to equitable health and public needs. 

When asked “Do you agree that FERC is an economic and safety regulator and not a climate regulator?”, all three nominees answered “Yes.” All three candidates asserted that the Federal ENERGY Regulatory Commission should not be expected to address climate implications, and by extension environmental justice or cumulative impacts. This is unacceptable for an agency with so much direct influence on the lives and futures of Americans, especially those on the frontlines. 

The hearing also happened in parallel to Congressional Republicans exposing their extreme, dirty, pro fossil-fuel energy agenda. This only deepens our concern that these nominees, if confirmed, will expand national dependence on oil and gas, curtailing the essential and urgent transition to renewable energy. Each of the nominees also doubled down on messaging to “follow the law.” This implies that they believe addressing greenhouse gas emissions would be outside of the scope and reach of The Natural Gas Act, despite consistent debunking of that position. Further, there was limited to no acknowledgement of the statutorily required mandates from the National Environmental Policy Act.

Yesterday’s proceedings were out of step with the Biden Administration’s emissions reductions agenda, severely misaligned with science on the human-driven climate crisis, and ignore the needs of impacted communities. For decades, Black, brown and low-income communities have experienced disproportionate harm from polluting infrastructure. To date, FERC has never denied a fossil fuel project based on environmental justice considerations and, based on yesterday’s testimony, the injustices will continue and worsen. 

Lastly, this slate of nominees will complete the terms in 2027, 2028, and 2029 – all of which are uncomfortably close to 2030, a critical year for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Further, their regulatory scope will have lasting implications beyond 2030, and will cement energy policy that fails to address environmental justice considerations and climate emergency. 

FERC and other governmental agencies must prioritize what is in the best interest of the public. Given the testimony of the nominees, we are certain and weary that there will be no safeguards protecting the public. Beyond the traditional tenets of safety, reliability, and affordability, this moment demands that we have a Commission that centers public health, environmental justice, climate mitigation, and resiliency in decision-making.

 

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