Energy

Enviros Turn Their Sights On Agency Regulating Pipelines

REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Environmentalists have moved away from opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline to working against the regulatory agency responsible for approving energy projects.

A group of environmentalists will announce a campaign Wednesday to stop the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) from gaining new members needed for approving new natural gas pipelines and other projects. One of the activists spearheading the coalition is well-known anti-fracking campaigner, Josh Fox.

He and other activists want to “spotlight the growing national opposition” to new FERC appointments by the Trump administration, according to a media advisory explaining the new campaign.

FERC, which regulates the country’s natural gas pipeline projects, lost a key commission member, essentially preventing the agency from acquiring a quorum on contentious pipelines like DAPL.

President Donald Trump elevated a member to head FERC, causing the demoted member to retire and leave the committee with only two panelists. The White House has yet to land on a nominee to replace the outgoing Obama-appointed chairman.

Trump’s decision to approve the highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota prompted environmentalists to attack nearly every ongoing pipeline project under discussion. They’ve now turned their ire toward the short-handed agency.

“Currently, only two out of five commissioner positions are filled at FERC, which means the administration would greatly impact FERC’s direction with new appointments,” the group’s memo notes. “Activists will outline the push against any new FERC commissioners and highlight the concerns with FERC’s regulatory oversight.”

Activists have tried for months using direct action to prevent oil projects like the DAPL from being constructed. They have even called on banks and investment groups to halt any and all monetary backing of the company responsible for constructing the DAPL.

Congressional Republicans and energy analysts don’t appear concerned about Fox’s efforts.

“Republican control of both the White House and Congress – not to mention changes made last year to the Senate rules for considering nominees – means nominees face a much easier path to confirmation,” Robert Dillon, vice president of the free-market American Council for Capital Formation, wrote Monday in an editorial.

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