Call In Days to Oppose Trump’s Nominations to FERC

Right Now, FERC Can’t Approve Any Fracked Gas Pipelines or LNG Export Facilities — Let’s Keep it That Way

Join the call-in days on March 22 and 23 when we’re asking you to make 6 calls to tell your Senators and the members of the Energy and Natural Resources committee to say no to Trump’s FERC nominations, and to call for the creation of a new agency dedicated to transitioning our energy system off fossil fuels. Find your senators’ numbers here and scroll down to get the names and numbers of three committee members to call! https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is a proven rubber stamp for fracked gas pipelines. In 30 years the FERC Commissioners have only rejected one pipeline project.

Right now, FERC is operating without a Quorum – it only has 2 Commissioners, not the needed 3. Until a new FERC Commissioner is approved by the Senate, the agency cannot issue the Certificates needed to approve fracked gas pipelines, compressors or LNG exports subject to its jurisdiction.

This means communities are in a rare moment of protection.

We need Congress to keep FERC in this power vacuum until steps are taken to replace it with an agency that’s about a just transition off fossil fuels.  

Any time now, President Trump will nominate new commissioners for Senate consideration and confirmation.

Help us call on Congress to stop or delay Trump’s nominations, and to push for what we really need—a new agency dedicated to facilitating a just transition to an exploitation-free energy system based on locally controlled and distributed renewable sources.

It’s Time to Call Our Senators and Secure their Commitment to:
• Oppose Any New FERC Commissioners
• To Replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels

We’re calling on communities across the nation to call key Senators on, March 22 & 23 and then again on April 5 & 6

Below, you will find all the resources you need to make your calls, including phone numbers, a sample script, and an optional form to tell us how your calls went.
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To find your senators’ numbers: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/senators_cfm.cfm?State=MA

Call Your Senators, Plus More
In addition to your senators, please call at least 4 members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee which is responsible for holding hearings on Trump’s nominees to FERC.

Democrats:
Senator Maria Cantwell, Minority Ranking Member: 202 224 3441
Senator Bernie Sanders: 202 224 5141
Senator Al Franken: 202 224 5641
Senator Ron Wyden: 202 224 5244
Senator Debbie Stabenow: 202 224 4822
Senator Angus King: 202 224 5344
Senator Mazie Hirono: 202 224 6361
Senator Tammy Duckworth: 202 224 2854
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto: 202 224 3542
Senator Joe Manchin: 202 224 3954
Senator Martin Heinrich: 202 224 5521

Republicans:
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chair: 202 224 6665
Senator Rob Portman: 202 224 3353
Senator John Barrasso: 202 224 6441
Senator James Risch: 202 224 2752
Senator Mike Lee: 202 224 5444
Senator Jeff Flake: 202 224 4521
Senator Steve Daines: 202 224 2651
Senator Cory Gardner: 202 224 5941
Senator Lamar Alexander: 202 224 4944
Senator John Hoeven: 202 224 2551
Senator Bill Cassidy: 202 224 5824
Senator Luther Strange: 202 224 4124
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Sample Script

Please note that this is a template. Feel free to revise it as you’d like. The more personal you can be, and the more specific about your own concerns, the better.

When Calling Your Own Senator:

My name is (name). I’m a constituent of (name of Senator) from (your town and state). I’m calling to urge my senator to vote no on Trump’s nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC is an arm of the fossil fuel industry. It rubber stamps fossil fuel infrastructure without properly considering the health or climate damage from these permits. FERC hurts my community and the climate while promoting the fossil fuel industry.

Until you or your colleagues put forward legislation to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to facilitating a just transition to an exploitation-free energy system based on locally controlled and distributed renewable sources, you must deny FERC’s quorum by voting no on Trump’s nominations.

Please understand that I am watching (name of senator)’s vote on this. If the senator votes yes on the nominations, I will know he/she does not stand with me, my community, the people, or the planet.


When Calling a Committee Member who is not Your Senator:

My name is (name). I am a resident of the United States who is concerned about FERC’s abuses of power and law when it comes to reviewing and approving pipeline infrastructure projects and LNG export facilities.

I am calling Senator X because he/she serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee that will be holding hearings on Donald Trump’s nominations for FERC Commissioners.

FERC has a demonstrated history of abusing communities and misusing the law when it comes to reviewing and approving natural gas infrastructure projects.

I am urging Senator X to use his/her position on the Committee to oppose confirmation of any new Commissioners to FERC, until such time as Congress takes steps to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels. 


If you want to be able to give more detail here is a little bit more:

¬ FERC routinely uses a legal loophole that strips people of their legal right to challenge a pipeline project in court before FERC allows the company to use the power of eminent domain to take property and to actually start constructing activities for their pipelines.
¬ FERC routinely undermines states rights and legal authority when it comes to pipeline reviews.
¬ It has been documented that FERC has a revolving door between agency staff and the gas industry.
¬ FERC Commissioners are known to approve pipeline projects that benefit themselves and their family.
¬ FERC is known to use consultants in its pipeline process that are working for the very companies they are supposed to be reviewing on behalf of FERC.

If you are talking to a live person, and want to engage in some dialogue, here are some questions you could ask to find out where the Senator stands and to see if they are open to input during the nomination process regarding questions and information:

Can you tell me where the Senator stands on FERC commissioner appointments at this time? (Respond appropriately by saying thank you or by reiterating the need to vote no. The staffer may mention that Trump has not nominated anyone yet. Be sure to indicate that this isn’t only about who the nominees are. Be clear that until legislation is put forward to replace FERC, you demand that the senator vote no on all appointments, and that FERC lacking a quorum is a good thing).

Would the Senator support legislation to replace FERC with an agency dedicated to a just transition off fossil fuels? (If yes, ask what the senator will do to make such legislation a reality. If no, tell the senator that you can’t support candidates who don’t stand with you, your community, or the planet, and that unless the senator shapes up, you will join the effort to vote them out.)
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Tell Us About Your Calls


It would help to know who you called – if you are willing to share this information please do so at the link below:

 

Pipeline Foes Like Hobbled FERC Just the Way it is

March 8, 2017

(https://www.rtoinsider.com/pipeline-foes-fracking-ferc-39840/)

By Michael Brooks

FERC’s loss of its quorum has members of Congress and the natural gas industry feeling anxious, but anti-fracking activists said Wednesday they will oppose any nominations to the commission in order to keep it paralyzed.

Ted Glick, a founder of Beyond Extreme Energy, said his group and more than 130 others were inspired to act when Chairman Norman Bay resigned Feb. 3 after President Trump named Cheryl LaFleur acting chair. Bay’s departure left the commission with only two members, one short of the minimum needed to approve natural gas pipeline projects.

The commission approved seven natural gas pipelines worth 7 Bcfd before Bay left this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The commission approved 17.6 Bcfd of capacity last year.

Besides lobbying senators to vote against nominees, the activists’ efforts will include nonviolent civil disobedience, which his group has used to disrupt the commission’s open meetings, Glick said during a news teleconference. (See Meet the People Making Life for FERC a Little More Difficult this Week.)

In a March 2016 protest outside FERC headquarters, Beyond Extreme Energy and other activists ate pancakes with the last syrup from Megan Holleran’s maple trees, which were cut down for a pipeline in New Milford, Pa. Holleran, “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox and five others were arrested.

Beyond Extreme Energy and its allies see FERC as a rogue agency that ignores communities’ input on pipeline projects and is cozy with the industry that it is supposed to regulate. Their opposition is nonpartisan, with the activists yesterday lambasting Democrats for their failure to rein the commission in.

“The appointment of one new commissioner could put that agency back in business and able to inflict incredible and irreparable harm on communities and our environment,” said Maya van Rossum, leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Preventing the restoration of FERC’s quorum is virtually impossible, however. Republicans control the Senate 52-48, and Democrats can no longer filibuster the president’s nominations except for the Supreme Court.

“The best outcome right now for the communities being abused by these pipeline projects and these pipeline companies and by FERC is to prevent” a quorum, and give Congress “the breathing room” to holding hearings “investigating the abuses that are happening at the hands of FERC, identifying the needed reforms and putting in place those reforms before a quorum is restored,” van Rossum said. “We get that’s a heavy lift. We totally get that.”

Joining Glick and van Rossum on the call was Todd Larsen, executive co-director of Green America; Josh Fox, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary “Gasland;” and Maggie Henry, a former organic farmer.

“It’s not just that we will oppose the FERC nominees,” Fox said. “Citizens all across this nation are gathering to build protest camps like the one at Dakota Access, and you will see a state of protest against fossil fuel infrastructure unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the United States of America.”

Cantwell, Dems Urge ‘Nonpartisanship’
Sen.

Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has other ideas.

She and 15 other Democrats wrote Trump on Wednesday urging him to respect the commission’s tradition of nonpartisanship, noting that less than 2% of the orders issued in 2016 included a dissenting opinion. “We hope that your nominees will be prepared to continue this tradition, and we intend to review them through that lens during the confirmation process,” the senators wrote.

They also said that both Republican and Democratic presidents have nominated people recommended by the Senate leader of the party that does not hold the presidency — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We expect you will honor this long-standing practice in nominating individuals to serve on the commission,” the senators said.

 

Enviro groups move to block FERC nominees

More than 100 environmental groups are launching a quixotic campaign to shut down major decision-making at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by opposing any new nominations to the agency.

The coalition is headlined by Josh Fox, who directed the controversial anti-fracking film “Gasland.” It comprises Green America, Delaware Riverkeeper, Food and Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other national and regional groups, as well as numerous state and local groups that campaign around air, water and pipeline issues, according to a press release.

“Currently, only two out of five commissioner positions are filled at FERC, which means the administration would greatly impact FERC’s direction with new appointments,” activists said in a press release distributed by Max Karlin, a spokesman for Green America. The groups plan to hold a call tomorrow detailing their campaign that aims to “push against any new FERC commissioners and highlight the concerns with FERC’s regulatory oversight.”

FERC’s five-seat panel of commissioners is down to just two members since the resignation last month of Norman Bay. His departure left the group without the quorum needed to issue approvals for major pipelines and other infrastructure (Energywire, Feb. 6). Certain lower-level decision-making authority has been delegated to FERC staff in an effort to keep as much of the agency’s work as possible on track.

Natural gas industry groups and infrastructure companies, as well as members of Congress and other industry stakeholders, have been pushing the Trump administration to nominate and win approval of at least one new commissioner as soon as possible to get the commission back to work. But many acknowledge that identifying new leaders for the wonky regulatory agency may be low on the priority list for a White House that is pushing several higher-profile policy proposals.

The coalition of environmental groups opposing any new FERC appointment is an unlikely foe of the influential energy industry. Last week, a Huffington Post story suggested the administration may be looking for ways to sidestep legal requirements for partisan balance on FERC and similar commissions, aiming to stack them with leaders sympathetic to the administration’s goals.

Twitter: @JennyMandel1 Email: jmandel@eenews.net

Support BXE’s FERC Vacancies Work

Right now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to delay all interstate fracked gas pipelines being proposed for the United States. As renewable energy grows stronger and communities rise up to oppose fossil fuels, any delay we can cause to fracked-gas infrastructure buildout is a major victory. We can’t take full advantage of  this opportunity without your support, however. As we build coalitions and partnerships, and prepare for action, please consider making a $50 donation to Beyond Extreme Energy today by clicking here.

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(Meme Credit: Jimmy Betts)

What exactly is this unprecedented opportunity? A few weeks ago, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)  Chairman Norman Bay resigned from his post, leaving the agency with only two commissioners. Without a  quorum of three commissioners, the panel can’t issue permits for  fracked-gas infrastructure. The two remaining commissioners can do little until President Trump  appoints a replacement. That’s where we come in. A donation of $50 or more will go a long way toward ensuring that we’re able to effectively mobilize to delay Trump’s appointments to FERC. Click here to make a donation now.

Over the last few weeks, Beyond Extreme Energy and our allies have worked to build a coalition of more than 100 organizations that have pledged to oppose Trump’s nominations to FERC. Going forward, we will continue to build this coalition and collaborate with its members to fight Trump’s nominations using a variety of creative strategies and tactics. Please click here to make a much appreciated donation to help fuel our continuing work.

In addition to working with our allies to pressure senators to question and oppose Trump’s FERC nominations, we will help plan, coordinate, and execute actions across the country to both expose FERC as an arm of the fossil fuel industry, and to convince our senators to question and oppose Trump’s nominees. These actions could range from rallies and press conferences to speak-outs and nonviolent civil disobedience. They might take place at senators’ state offices, their DC offices, and even the Senate confirmation hearings for the nominees.  To make all of this happen, of course, we really do need your financial support. Anything you can give, however big or small, would help make this effort a success. Please click here if you are able to contribute.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. Your support is much appreciated.

Sincerely,

The Beyond Extreme Energy Crew   

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.

Call Out House Dems: Help Stop FERC Nominations

untitled(Meme Credit: Kim Fraczek)

Last week, 14 Democrats in the House wrote a letter to Trump calling on him to make FERC operational again by putting forward nominees for the open commissioner spots. These representatives don’t understand FERC like we do. For some reason, they think making this rubber stamping agency operational again will be helpful. We know otherwise. Let’s speak out!

Maya van Rossum with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been circulating this organizational sign-on letter to send to the 14 House Democrats. Please consider having your organization sign on!

If you’re from a state represented by one of the House Democrats (MA, NY, MD, VT, CO, IL), consider giving them a call. Below, you will find phone numbers to their Washington, DC offices, as well as a sample script. Please use the organizational sign-on letter and/or your own personal knowledge/insights/stories when calling as well.

MA Representative Joseph P. Kennedy
(202-225-5931)

MA Representative William R. Keating
202-225-3111

MA Representative James P. McGovern
202-225-6101

MA Representative Michael E. Capuano
(202) 225-5111

 MA Representative Stephen F. Lynch
(202) 225-8273

MA Representative Nicki Tsongas
202-225-3411

MA Representative Seth Moulton
(202) 225-8020

MA Representative Katherine M. Clark
(202) 225-2836

MA Representative Richard E. Neal
(202) 225-5601

NY Representative Paul D. Tonko
(202) 225-5076

MD Representative John P. Sarbanes
(202) 225-4016

VT Representative Peter Welch
(202) 225-4115

CO Representative Diana DeGette
(202) 225-4431

IL Representative Bobby L. Rush
(202) 225-4372

Sample Script/Messaging

Hello, my name is _________ from ___________.

I’m calling about the letter Representative __________ signed with 13 other Democrats calling on Trump to approve new commissioners to FERC. I am disturbed by the letter.

FERC funding and staffing are heavily tied to the industry they supposedly regulate. That’s why FERC approves virtually every fracked gas infrastructure permit that crosses its desk, regardless of community opposition, negative health and environmental impacts, and devastating climate change consequences. Such undemocratic and corrupt practices put communities in the state at risk in order to serve the bottom-line of the fracked gas industry.

Without a full quorum of commissioners, FERC can’t approve devastating, unwanted, and unneeded fracked gas infrastructure. This is a good thing.

Until FERC is investigated and its abuses stopped, I demand that their quorum not be restored.

Tell the representative to publically rescind his/her support for Trump to appoint new commissioners to FERC.

 

House Democrats Ask Trump to Fill FERC’s Empty Seats

David Bradley February 23, 2017
http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/109517-house-democrats-ask-trump-to-fill-fercs-empty-seats

The continuing lack of a quorum at FERC, an agency key to any administration in achieving its energy platform, has more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress calling on President Trump to begin the process of filling vacancies.

“For the sake of good governance, transparency, and proper oversight, we request that you nominate a qualified individual as soon as possible to serve as a commissioner at FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission],” the lawmakers wrote to Trump in a letter dated Feb. 22. They also requested Trump fill the remaining vacant slots “to ensure the Commission is fully functioning and each filing is duly considered.”

The letter was signed by 14 Democratic House members representing districts in Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, Maryland, Colorado and Vermont.

The logjam at FERC began days after Trump’s inauguration, when he named Cheryl LaFleur acting chairman and Norman Bay, who had been at the helm since April 2015 — when he replaced LaFleur in that roll — submitted his resignation effective Feb. 3.

Without a quorum, FERC can conduct routine business, but it cannot vote on important projects or rules. Trump has yet to nominate any new commissioners to fill the three vacant seats on the ostensibly five-member panel. Currently, the only commissioners are LaFleur and Colette Honorable, both Democrats. FERC can have no more than three commissioners from any one party.Industry groups have been lobbying the Trump administrationto act quickly on FERC nominations, which would have to go through the sometimes lengthy Senate confirmation process before taking their seats at the agency.

“A fully functioning and staffed Commission is critical to our economy, national security, infrastructure and energy needs as a country,” according to the House members. “For the last several years, our offices repeatedly have raised concerns, including with the previous administration, about vacancies on the Commission. The Commission staff can address many of the actions filed, but federal statutes require the Commission to issue orders only by majority vote of at least three commissioners representing a quorum.

“In FERC’s nearly forty year history, it has never faced a situation where it is unable to act due to lack of quorum. Though routine matters may be addressed at staff level, effectively, the most important actions will require at least three commissioners. Our energy sector will remain at a standstill without the Commission’s ability to act.”

On the eve of Bay’s departure, FERC issued an order delegating certain authority to its staff while it lacks a quorum. The order authorized FERC staff to act on rate filings; grant extensions of time and waiver requests; and approve uncontested settlements. But, “given the clarity of the FERC governing statutes and the uncharted territory we are currently exploring, we have significant concerns with the legal basis on which this order stands,” the lawmakers said. “A nomination and subsequent confirmation by the Senate would avoid protracted legal proceedings”

Among those rumored to be potential FERC nominees is Neil Chatterjee, a senior policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY),Travis Kavulla, a member of the Montana Public Service commission and former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Janet Sena, director of public policy and external affairs for the North American Electric Reliability Corp., and Former Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) Chairman Barry Smitherman.

In addition to the three empty seats waiting to be filled, Honorable will need to have her term extended or be replaced this year, since her term expires June 30. LaFleur’s term is due to expire June 30, 2019.
FERC canceled its Feb. 16 agenda meeting and suspended subsequent monthly meetings as the agency awaits appointment of enough commissioners to achieve a quorum.