Letters from Congress Urging Trump to Restore FERC Commissioner Quorum Draws Swift Rebuke from 136 Organizations Representing Communities Nationwide

For Immediate Release

March 1, 2017

Contact:
Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Delaware Riverkeeper Network 215-801-3043
Ted Glick, Beyond Extreme Energy, 973-460-1458
Paul Gierofsky, The Coalition to ReRoute Nexus, 216-469-5206

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.

According to the letter of opposition signed by the 136 environmental and community organizations, reestablishing a quorum at FERC would re-open the floodgates for FERC approval of natural gas infrastructure and pipeline projects. The letter (attached) reads in part:

[W]e were deeply disturbed by your February 22, 2017 letter …. Rather than advocating for the installation of new FERC Commissioners, you should be doing all you can to forestall the nomination and approval process ….

Communities across the nation are being harmed by the indiscriminate, ill-informed and misguided approvals rolling out of FERC for natural gas infrastructure projects. …

Until Congress has investigated the abuses of power and law by FERC, including the biased and self-serving decisionmaking advanced by its Commissioners and staff, and put in place needed reforms you should oppose restoration of a quorum of FERC Commissioners ….

“FERC is a biased and abusive agency that is the epitome of a rubber stamp when it comes to pipeline infrastructure projects,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “With this letter, House Democrats are showing that they would rather stand with the pipeline industry than protect the people they were elected to serve. We represent communities across the nation that are being hurt for a fossil fuel industry that needs to be retired, not reinvigorated with more pipelines,” van Rossum added.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress should get serious about taking action to protect the American people and our overheated planet. That means an investigation into FERC’s abusive approach toward communities facing new gas pipelines and other gas infrastructure, followed by action. We don’t need a FERC which rubber stamps new fossil fuel infrastructure; we need an agency that leads the urgently-needed shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar,” said Ted Glick, representative of Beyond Extreme Energy.

“FERC is a rogue agency that does nothing but push pipelines for the gas industry and they are out of control. FERC works for the gas companies and not the people of the United States. It’s outrageous that the Democratic Congressmen want to empower FERC by allowing them to begin rubberstamping dangerous and devastating pipelines all over again. They’re siding with Donald Trump and Big Gas companies over the people of the United States. All they’re doing is enabling FERC to risk our water supply with fracking, destroy open spice with pipelines, and add to climate change impacts. These Congressmen need to stand up for the people of the US, and for the environment, by opposing any nominations to FERC,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“Many aspects of the process used by FERC to approve infrastructure projects violates our Constitutional rights. This process needs to be reviewed by Congress and reforms put in place before a new Commissioner is confirmed,” said Paul Gierofsky with The Coalition to Reroute Nexus (CoRN).

“From the ancient origins of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in regions of the Middle East where water was scarce and wellsprings were sacred, to the struggle at Standing Rock in our own generation- religious and spiritual wisdom has said again and again: ‘Water is Life!’. Yet today FERC has been encouraging the proliferation of pipelines bearing dangerous gases and oils that threaten the purity of our water and air and the health of all who live nearby, and through the process of C02 and methane emissions have been worsening the climate crisis and its dangers to human communities and other life-forms throughout our planet. So The Shalom Center joins many other groups deeply rooted in our religious, spiritual and ethical traditions to urge that FERC’s operations be held in suspension and its empty seats left unfilled while its policies and its connections to the companies it regulates are investigated,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow from The Shalom Center.

In addition to the regional and national organizations signed on to the letter, there are environmental and community groups representing communities in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Washington DC.