For Immediate Release
Nonprofit Organizations Join to Demand Reform of Rogue Agency
Grand Rapids, OH – More than 180 organizations representing communities across America called on leaders in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee to hold congressional hearings into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) extensive history of bias and abuse. The groups are also requesting reform of the Natural Gas Act, which the groups say, gives too much power to FERC and too little to state and local officials.
“The time has now come for Congress to investigate how FERC is using its authority and to recognize that major changes are in fact necessary in order to protect people, including future generations, from the ramifications of FERC’s misuse of its power and implementation of the Natural Gas Act,” says Maya van Rossum, of the Delaware Riverkeeper, a primary organizer of the effort.
The letter to Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairwoman Lisa Murkoski (R-AK), Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), signed by 182 community organizations representing communities in 35 states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia as well as the District of Columbia, argues that FERC’s review and approval process for jurisdictional pipeline projects is infected by bias; and that it is resulting in uncontrolled and irresponsible proliferation of unneeded natural gas pipelines. Finally, the letter charges the agency with misusing provisions in the law to strip people and states of their legal rights, to prevent fair public participation in the pipeline review process, and to improperly use the power of eminent domain to take private property and public lands in a way that inflicts irreparable harm to rights, jobs, and communities.
“FERC is corrupt and needs to be reformed,” said Paul L Gierosky, cofounder, Coalition to Reroute Nexus. “The evidence is overwhelming and clear as is set forth in the request for Congressional Hearings. It is time for Congress to hold FERC accountable.”
The letter details how FERC has implemented the Natural Gas Act in ways that deliberately undermine public input. FERC has prevented communities from challenging projects before the exercise of eminent domain and pipeline construction, made decisions to benefit its Commissioners, and used conflicted consultants to handle much of the review process.
In addition to calling for hearings into FERC and the Natural Gas Act, the letter opposes any further advancement of language in the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 meant to shorten critical pipeline review periods. Signers of the letter argue that the proposed law should be held in abeyance until after the hearings, where Congress will learn “how people’s rights, state’s rights, and the environment are already being abused under the implementation of the Natural Gas Act and so will be further harmed by passage of provisions proposed in the new law.”
Upon Congressional review, DRN and fellow parties demand the reforms necessary to address FERC’s extensive abuse of power, which requires revising the Natural Gas Act to prevent the misuse and exploitation that has been rampant. Additionally, the organizations seek affirmative action to remedy FERC’s problematic funding structure.
“It is a new day and a new way as citizens come together to say enough is enough,” said Chad Oba, Friends of Buckingham. “There is purpose and dedication in our resolve and we won’t stop until our voices are heard and our right to live in health and freedom from corporate interests is restored.”
“The number of frack gas pipelines is exploding and the feds are not only not applying appropriate oversight, but are in fact also enabling the trampling of people’s property rights, public health standards, and environmental protection,” said David Pringle, NJ Campaign Director, Clean Water Action. “This letter is a clarion call to action for Congress to rein in this modern day Wild West that if left unchecked will lead to even worse abuses and explosions.”
“We fully support the nationwide efforts to stop the frack gas pipelines from degrading Ohio’s forests, air quality and valuable water resources by multi-national investment and corporate interests that seek to exploit fracked gas primarily for export and corporate profits,” states Lea Harper, Managing Director of FreshWater Accountability Project. “Despite huge public protest, frack gas pipelines are permitted by the State of Ohio and FERC, so we continue our efforts on a nationwide basis to bring public awareness and opposition to the destructive pipelines and the taking of private property for corporate gain.
Freshwater Accountability Project (www.FWAP.org) is a nonprofit water protection environmental organization working to inform the public of the hazards of unconventional shale drilling (fracking) and its infrastructure in Ohio. Working collaboratively with local, statewide and nationwide organizations, FWAP builds public awareness and action-oriented initiatives to oppose the massive pipeline projects crossing Ohio, taking private property for corporate gain, expanding the fracking industry to export natural gas resources, and degrading forests, ground and surface water and air quality across the state.