Calling for Transparency in Gas Pipeline Permitting

Ken Silverstein of FORBES reports:

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline may be the embodiment of what happens when the nation is using more natural gas but the companies building the infrastructure to transport that fuel struggle to get the necessary permits. The $5.1 billion project would feed the energy appetites of the mid-Atlantic states but it is opposed by environmental groups that say it is unnecessary.

The ultimate responsibility for approving such projects falls onto the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, which is an obscure non-partisan five-member body. To win permission, companies must not just show the economic need for pipelines but also that they have worked in advance to satisfy the various stakeholders that include communities and environmentalists.

“The federal government is glossing over the massive impacts this 600-mile pipeline would have on neighboring communities and climate change,” said Alison Kelly, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Green-lighting this pipeline without a sufficient review of the damage it would cause is a disservice to the people who live in its path and treasure this part of Appalachia.”

In another story, Mary C. Serreze of Mass Live writes:

Saying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been a reliable rubber stamp for the natural gas pipeline industry, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced she is pushing a bill to create an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy within the agency.

The Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday that she and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H) had reintroduced The Public Engagement at FERC Act. The bill would help energy consumers participate in FERC proceedings, which Shaheen described as “needlessly complicated.”

Pipeline controversies have been front and center in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, where residents have waged fights against major infrastructure proposals by Kinder Morgan and Spectra. “For too long, FERC has rubberstamped an industry wish list and ignored concerned voices of Massachusetts citizens — citizens who do not want natural gas compressor stations built in their backyards or pipeline companies bulldozing state forests,” said Warren in a statement.

For the complete Forbes story, click here. | For the complete Mass Live story, click here.

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