Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, a group of 29 House Democrats this week called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop approving new natural gas pipeline projects and new liquefied natural gas export facilities. FERC regulates interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity as well as natural gas and hydropower plants.
The legislators argued in their letter that a moratorium is necessary to make sure the public is included in the process and to protect the safety of construction crews.
FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, however, emphasized the importance of continuing to strengthen our nation’s energy infrastructure network. Chatterjee stated:
“It’s imperative that the Commission continue to operate as close to normal as possible so that the industries we regulate are well-positioned to contribute to the nation’s economic recovery when we all return to work.
“We at FERC will do everything in our power to make sure our energy systems continue to operate and are there when we call upon them once our economy reopens. To shut our door to working on the nation’s critical energy infrastructure would be as irresponsible as it is shortsighted.”
Our nation’s energy infrastructure network is more important now than ever before. FERC is committed to fulfilling all statutory obligations, just as they always have. It is unfortunate that legislators have taken this advantage of this public health crisis to further promote an anti-fossil fuel ideology.
Additionally, new infrastructure projects like natural gas pipelines and LNG export facilities are capital-intensive, multi-year shovel-ready jobs that support thousands of high-skilled jobs. Such economic investment can play a key role in not only providing Americans with the energy they use every day, but also creating a much-needed economic boost in light of COVID-19.