Beyond Extreme Energy does not believe that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can be functionally reformed from within. FERC has been captured by the fossil fuel industry for decades at both a structural and staffing level. FERC is predicated on an outdated energy regulation model that is incapable of meeting the climate challenges of the 21st Century. Even with a progressive FERC chair such as Richard Glick, his ability to challenge policy is limited and any changes at FERC can be undone by subsequent administrations.
Instead we advocate that FERC be dismantled and a new agency the Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FREC) be built in its place.
There is a precedent for this sort of dismantling. The Federal Power Commission was created in 1930, to formalize energy regulation in the US, but by 1977 Congress deemed the FPC to be ineffective by modern standards. They enacted the Department of Energy Organization Act to dismantle the FPC and create the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
44 years later FERC can only be deemed likewise ineffective in meeting the modern energy challenges of the 21st Century.
So? What is FREC? How would it work?
For a broad overview check out the FERC Into FREC Movie: https://youtu.be/HHtVpMELJuQ
and the FREC Prezi for a larger examination of the campaign: https://prezi.com/view/mjlSxP35a5EGkt6Aubgu/
Without getting into the nitty gritties, here are 6 core aspects of what we believe would make FREC truly rooted in climate justice and environmental justice principles in guiding the transition to full renewable energy:
- FREC will require that an Environmental Justice Analysis, in addition to an Environmental Impact Statement, must be created for every proposed new energy project. The EJA would evaluate potential structural violence resulting from new energy infrastructure projects. This includes but isn’t limited to environmental racism, gendered violence, energy monopolization, and economic sacrifice zones.
- FREC will create an Office of Indigenous Relations, operated according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other international best practices, mandated to ensure that any proposed energy projects to be built on Indigenous land or sacred sites have full and transparent input and interactions with, and agreement from, potentially impacted Indigenous Nations/Peoples prior to any application to FREC for a permit.
- FREC will affirmatively take the initiative to multiply the number of engaged, legally empowered and government-supported local citizens groups planning and advancing new, jobs-creating, non-polluting renewable energy infrastructure in their community. This includes formalizing a system by which DERs (Distributed Energy Resources) can aggregate and compete in wholesale power markets. FREC will affirmatively publicize positive, community-led efforts which have effectively managed renewables investment, construction and operation, and which have increased energy independence for consumers and communities, for the benefit of other communities to help them do the same.
- There will be no taking of, or work on, private or public land by energy companies which receive permits until every regulatory and court action has been exhausted. Financial support, a minimum of 50% of legal fees, will be provided for legal fees for all landowners or communities who decide to challenge negative regulatory actions after they have fully participated in the FREC intervenor process prior to final regulatory action.
- Funding for FREC will not be solely based upon fees for companies which are applying for permits but primarily through Congressional appropriations. Industry funding creates dependency on continuing expansion of the industries being regulated. Congressional appropriations hearings could have surfaced the long-suffered eminent domain abuse practiced by FERC.
- FREC would simplify and improve the process for public comments on proposed projects, including extensive public outreach, engagement and assistance. Data that is held by FREC on both individual projects and on industries as a whole would be made available through accessible and understandable, user- friendly information processes and services. A priority would be put on making information and data held by FREC easily accessible and shareable. FREC would ensure that the public have access to trained specialists who can aid them in interpreting data and plans. This would include legal support, scientists, and engineers.
The Nitty Gritty:
The most in depth articulation of the nitty gritties is our 30 Legislative Points for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission.