The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) recent announcement that it will reconsider how it reviews and approves interstate gas pipelines holds great importance to the communities where our members live, work and play.
This message is being sent to Commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as members of Congress.
On behalf of our members, I implore you to put people ahead of profits and protect our people and our communities from risky and unnecessary fracked gas pipelines that will serve the proponents of these pipelines but not the communities that are impacted by these pipelines, most especially our vulnerable rural communities where these pipelines are preferentially located.
There is nothing natural about natural gas. In fact, natural gas has rapidly become a relic of the outdated and dangerous fossil fuel industry. Moving beyond fossil fuels is good for our country, our state and our people. It’s well past time for FERC to update its approach to interstate gas pipeline reviews. The current policy for these reviews dates back to 1999 and is out of touch with the science and economics of the climate crisis. Almost 20 years later, it is well past time for FERC to update its approach to interstate gas pipeline reviews and adopt a 21st century approach that recognizes the decline of fossil fuels and its negative impact on climate and communities.
We do not believe that pipelines are in the public interest, given their adverse effects on our communities and the environment, as well as the abundant cost-effective alternatives to fossil fuel generation. It is time for FERC to recognize this and implement policies that will prevent the gas industry from continuing its reckless campaign to overbuild pipelines for its own benefit and with the untold consequences for human health, the economy, and the environment.
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline provides a glaring example of self-dealing by fracked gas companies and their affiliates/partners. The proponents are also the end users for the natural gas proposed to be transported along this interstate pipeline and its associated spurs. This self-dealing approach is NOT a measure of public need. Therefore, it is incumbent on FERC to STOP this business-as-usual approach and to truly identify the public need rather than the company's need for profit.
Should FERC continue this policy, it will only continue to spur the gross overbuilding of gas pipelines, driving up the rate of fracking and exacerbating the threat to public health and safety along the entire supply chain: from the wells that poison our air and drinking water to our rivers, streams, and shorelines eroding from runoff and accelerating climate change-induced sea level rise. Customers will pay higher utility bills while utilities and other corporate polluters reap profits from guaranteed rates of return for pipelines that aren’t even needed.
Independent, regionally-focused assessments are needed to avoid undue pipeline redundancy and the resulting greenhouse gas pollution that in some instances directly contravenes regional environmental goals. Independent, regionally-focused assessment will also enable due consideration to cleaner, safer, and more affordable alternatives to fracked gas pipelines and power plants, such as renewables and demand-side energy efficiency.
The policies and the decisions we make now will have a huge impact on whether we mitigate or perhaps even avoid the worst of these impacts to our economy, public health and the well being of communities for generations to come. Clean, safe renewable energy and energy efficiency are affordable and abundant now and pay dividends in health and economic benefits.
It is time for FERC to implement policies that recognize a clean energy future. It is time for you, our elected representatives, to ensure that future for our communities, our environment and our quality of life.