May 26, 2020
Welcome to the Audible Café Radio Show/podcast!
Today, I’m happy to share my interview with Jane Winn of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (or BEAT) and Rosemary Wessel of No Fracked Gas in Mass (a program of BEAT). We talked about a lawsuit that BEAT and the Food & Water Watch have brought against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in approving a fracked gas infrastructure project without meeting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requiring FERC to meaningfully evaluate greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel production and transportation projects.
The project in question is known as the “261 Upgrade Project” — a proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company (“TGP”) gas-fired compressor station expansion and proposed new pipeline construction. Both the compressor station and the pipeline portion of the project are detrimental to the health of nearby residents (greater noise, air, and water pollution), will increase greenhouse gas emissions, and will contribute to climate change.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is intended to be “an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave FERC "additional responsibilities” which are too numerous to list here. Check out the FERC website for more info at www.ferc.gov.
This is far from the first time FERC has not met this requirement; in fact, it would be difficult to find an example where FERC meaningfully evaluated the greenhouse gas emission of any project. FERC is known among environmentalists as a “rubber stamp” commission, far from being an independent agency without undue influence by the fossil fuel industry, it is quite the opposite.
One Commissioner, Richard Glick, is a notable exception in voting against unfavorable projects and issuing dissenting opinions that make sense.
Energy projects and the morass of regulations and agencies that oversee them are extremely complicated, but it’s important to pay attention. While COVID-19 is overshadowing our day-to-day lives and distracting us from other things, the current administration is taking advantage of that tor ram through fossil fuel projects and remove protections in ways that will have serious negative repercussions for the environment and our climate.
Thank you, Jane and Rose, for talking with me about this important lawsuit, and for your dedication in working tirelessly to protect the environment and our health, and for standing up for what is right and just.
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