Corrupt coal baron Senator Joe Manchin now effectively controls FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
What is Manchin’s FERC?
For years we’d wondered what the cumulative impact on the climate of FERC’s rubber stamping decisions was. After an extensive process in 2021, the new Democratic majority at FERC introduced rules to quantify the climate and environmental justice impact of projects they consider in early 2022.
Like your storytelling visual? Click here to view our 3 infographics summarizing the research. Or read on for the whole story with links to our research and numbers included.
But Manchin forced them to withdraw those new rules, and then refused to schedule a hearing on President Biden’s renomination of Democrat Richard Glick as FERC chair — effectively ending his term and the Democratic majority at FERC single handedly.
In late 2022, BXE activist and former FERC employee Andy Hinz requested information from FERC on the climate and environmental impacts of the Fossil Fuel projects they had approved since withdrawing their Interim Policy Statements on greenhouse gases and environmental impacts.
FERC responded that, since the interim policy statements were rescinded, they do not track any greenhouse gas emissions or GHG equivalencies, nor are these considered in any FERC policy making. Andy was told, simply, that “you cannot request information under the Freedom of Information Act that does not exist.”
What is Joe Manchin’s FERC? Click the image to read or download the infographic timeline on how one corrupt coal baron took control of FERC, and forced it to stop tracking, sharing, or considering the climate and environmental justice impacts of the projects they review and (almost always) permit.
Since Joe Manchin intervened in FERC’s policy making in March of 2022, our nation’s most powerful federal agency in electric and methane gas permitting has been willfully, intentionally blind to the climate and environmental justice impacts of their own work.
What is the climate impact of Manchin’s FERC
Undeterred by FERC’s willing ignorance, BXE set out to look at the records of decision on all fossil fuel projects approved by FERC. We found that while FERC chose to ignore the climate impacts, there was information on the volume of gas, and the energy equivalence of that methane gas when burned (in Dekatherms). Using the EPA’s calculator tool, and estimates from other expert organizations like Oil Change International on likely ‘losses’ of methane due to gas leakage and waste, it is possible to estimate the GHG equivalency of these projects.
Andy and our team looked at each record of decision from March-Dec 2022 and concluded that since Manchin took over FERC has approved he equivalent of 282,866,661 tons of CO2 pollution.
That pollution is equivalent to:
- 76 coal plants.
- 6 Mountain Valley Pipelines.
- 1,561,936 Rail Cars of Coal.
- 60,949,062 Gas-Powered Cars Driving for 1 Year.
To offset that much pollution you’d have to:
- Plant 4,243,106,560 trees and let them grow for a decade; Or
- Change 9,725,866,267 incandescent light bulbs to high efficiency LED ones.
In short, since Joe Manchin took control of FERC in early 2022, he’s made it back into a tool of wanton climate destruction.
Next steps and actions
There are some organizations and individuals who claim FERC can be reformed, and who are calling on President Biden to swiftly nominate a third Democrat, so newly installed chair Willie Phillips can take action on the clean energy transition our country and planet urgently need.
BXE does not agree that FERC can be safely reformed. To end the era of fossil fuels and avoid catastrophic climate impacts, FERC must be re-made. Click here to take action with us and amplify our demands!
Congress needs to pass legislation to replace FERC with a Federal RENEWABLE Energy Commission, FREC. As explained elsewhere on our website, FREC would lead the urgently-needed shift off of fossil fuels to clean renewables, with environmental justice for low wealth and people of color communities most impacted by the production and burning of fossil fuels.
While we continue to lobby Congress to take important action, we also need our elected leaders to act like the climate crisis is, in fact, an emergency. Specifically, we are taking action on January 19 (and beyond) to demand Senator Chuck Schumer replace Manchin as chair of the Senate Energy Committee. And we call upon employees of FERC to resist this new Manchin FERC – do not approve new permits, do not turn a blind eye to climate and environmental justice impacts just because you are so told by a puppet for the fossil fuel industry. Be brave and risk your job, but not your ethics or reputation, by acting for the people and the planet, rather than Manchin and destruction, with every order and every permit you carefully issue.
Until our demands are met, we commit to supporting continued grassroots resistance to all new fossil fuel expansion projects, and to non violent direct action that disrupts Joe Manchin’s FERC.
Check on the 3 infographics or click here to view and download larger versions and the data table.