McConnell, Manchin Press Federal Regulators to Lift Climate Change Restrictions on Gas Pipelines

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The pushback continues against Joe Biden’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) rules, put into place in February to consider greenhouse gas emissions and “vulnerable” communities when permitting natural gas pipelines, including criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“At a time when we should be looking for ways to expedite the approval of these important projects, the Commission has chosen on a purely partisan basis to do the exact opposite,” McConnell wrote in a draft of the letter he sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), obtained by Politico. “Erecting new roadblocks to affordable, abundant energy makes no sense, particularly in this tenuous time.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a Republican policy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Yesterday, Republican senators blocked a bill to keep the U.S. government funded and allow borrowing.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Politico’s Morning Energy reported:

FERC Chair Richard Glick and Commissioner Willie Phillips recently said they were open to making some changes to allay industry concerns, just weeks after they voted to pass the policies that put more scrutiny on the greenhouse gas emissions from pipelines as well as an emphasis on environmental justice in siting or approving a project. The greenhouse gas policy statement specifically was intended to be an interim policy and remains open to changes.

Former FERC Chair Neil Chatterjee has been among the loudest voices calling for FERC to at least pause applying the policy statement for pending projects — and he reiterated that point in an email. “I think that would calm the waters and reduce the uncertainty the issuance of the statements has caused,” he told Politico’s Catherine Morehouse.

Republicans and Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin have blasted the policy shift as agency overreach, and committee Republicans introduced a bill Wednesday to stop the move from taking effect. During a Senate Environment and Public Works hearing on energy security Wednesday, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) characterized the policy statements as part of a Biden administration “focus on shutting down the production of oil and gas.”

Reuters reported on the battle between the production of clean, affordable domestic energy for U.S. consumption and helping European allies who are trying to limit dependence on Russian fossil fuels in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine:

Pipeline companies including Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) and Boardwalk Pipeline have asked FERC not to apply the new review to pending projects. Environmental groups have urged President Joe Biden’s administration not to abandon plans combat climate change in light of energy supply disruptions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In recent weeks, U.S. lawmakers and energy industry trade groups had called on the Biden administration to ramp up natural gas and oil exports to Europe.

“White House efforts to boost U.S. LNG exports were proceeding slowly, however, because of concerns about the impact on climate change of projects that could last decades, government and industry sources said this month,” Reuters concluded.

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