We’ve seen enough. Tell the Senate to vote NO to UnFrack FERC

June 10 update: Well that happened fast. last week the the Senate Energy Committee voted to confirm the whole slate of new FERC nominees. Only Senator Sanders (I-VT and always our friend) voted like we asked and opposed both Rosner and See. Senator Hirono (D-HI) voted against See, the Republican. And a couple of Republicans voted against a couple of the Democrats because of politics. And Senator Hawley (R-MO) voted against everyone because he’s a fossil fueled fascist, and he just really hates this one particular power line. Sen Barasso (R-WY and the vice chair of committee) made a whole speech about he’d personally forced Chang to promise not to support climate change or environmental justice reforms at FERC – it was pretty gross.

Obviously that isn’t the outcome we were hoping for, and because the Nominees were confirmed with a big bi-partisan majority, Senate leader Schumer has scheduled a final floor vote quicklymaybe as soon as tomorrow, June 11. And it was the centerpiece of a good news, bad news sort of week on our campaign to de-carbonize our electric sector – the second biggest source of all global warming pollution in the US.

Right now we’re working in New England, North Carolina, and other eastern states at the local level, and we’re still working to UnFrack FERC – which oversees the electricity sector at the national level.​ Here’s what’s up and how you can help

The good news​ is that lots of renewable energy generation is getting built, and some rules are changing to speed up the process. That’s what we went to Holyoke Mass to argue about with the regional grid regulator. We’ve been working all this year to disrupt and re-make the state’s electricity grid, and in particular to snuff out the last gas-fired peaker plants in the region. New FERC rules that promote clean energy generation and transmission will help – but it’s a slow process and we need regulators like FERC and ISO-NE to pick up the pace if we’re going to hit President Biden’s goal of decarbonizing the whole electric sector by 2035.

The bad news​ is that the rules are not changing to make it harder to build fossil fuel power plants, and so a lot of states are still building more of those too. Like in North Carolina, where Duke energy wants to build two new fossil-gas powered power plants to produce a total of 2200 Megawatts of dirty energy. That will not only cause a ton of pollution, but will displace all the clean energy development in the sunny state of North Carolina, which has great potential to meet all it’s power needs with solar and wind power – but has only been building a few hundred MW of clean energy a year, and will probably build even less if those gas plants are approved..

​To stop catastrophic climate chaos, we have to do more than build some new solar and wind farms; We have to end fossil fuels fast, fair, and forever. ​In other words, we have to keep fighting. ​​ So here’s a couple quick ways you can help this week:

  1. Before it’s too late, click here to send a message to the US Senate to vote “No” on these nominees.
  2. If you’re a Duke Energy customer, or live in North Carolina, click here to sign our quick petition opposing Duke’s fossil fuel power plants, and make a plan to attend one of the local hearings. The next hearing in June 13 in Person County, and the comment deadline on the Catawba county plant was just extended.
  3. Wherever you live, get involved with local campaigns to challenge fossil fuels and promote clean energy at your public utility commission, ISO, or regional grid regulator. Tell us in the comments below if you know about a local campaign we can help with, and chip in here to fund our work fighting for a safe, clean, climate-sustaining electric grid at the local and national level.
Click here/expand to see earlier updates below in case you want to read back through all the notes and sources to get a sense of this campaign.

June 3 update: The Senate Energy Committee has scheduled a meeting tomorrow, June 4, to vote on the slate of new FERC nominees. Despite the long delay between their confirmation hearing and this vote, nothing has particularly changed. Except that Commissioner Clements has made it clear she wants to leave FERC as soon as possible, and she’s been dissenting from more and more items during our spring #UnFrackFERC campaign, which just wrapped up last month.

Before it’s too late, click here to send a message to the US Senate to vote “No” on these nominees.

Read on below for more context on each of the nominees.

This spring, we took a ton of actions to UnFrack FERC – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Click here to get caught up on March. Click here to get caught up on April. And click here to get caught up on May But as you may have heard, what started off the sprig of actions was that President Biden has nominated three new Commissioners to FERC. They are Judy Chang, David Rosner, and Lindsay See. And none of them are committed to change at FERC.

FERC is a pivotal agency in the clean energy transition: in addition to reviewing new natural gas infrastructure, they oversee the rules for the US electric grid, including whether new interstate transmission lines get built, and whether electric markets treat rooftop solar and energy efficiency fairly.

If confirmed, those three nominees will represent a governing majority at FERC. So they’ll be able to make or break the rules of the clean energy transition. And that’s why today we’re calling on the US Senate to vote “No” on these nominees.

There’s precedent for this kind of vote. Back during the Trump administration, every Democrat in the Senate banded together to vote no on FERC nominees that were deemed too radical.

We think Lindsay See, in particular qualifies as too radical and pro-fossil fuel. As the Solicitor General of West Virginia — Manchin’s home state — See is best known for suing the Biden Administration to protect coal and fossil fuels. She signed West Virginia on to a lawsuit suing President Biden to overturn the LNG pause on the same day as her confirmation hearing. She’ll definitely make FERC worse, not better.

Rosner is a Democrat, but he’s Joe Manchin’s hand-picked Democrat. According to new research from Friends of the Earth, Rosner has a history of backing fracked gas, and he’s worked with Manchin since 2022 to roll back FERC rules on climate change and environmental justice. Thousands of us signed a petition last week asking the Senate to confirm nominees who are dedicated to the clean energy transition, not fossil fuels. That’s clearly not Rosner.

Chang is the only nominee who’s had experience cutting global warming pollution and prioritizing environmental justice over fossil fuels. So if the US Senate feels like they have to confirm a FERC nominee because Commissioner Clements is retiring in a few weeks, she’s the best option. But in her testimony at her confirmation hearing, Chang also promised to uphold the pro fossil fuel bias at FERC called “technology neutrality.” She didn’t have much choice – Republicans on the Committee and corrupt coal baron Joe Manchin basically forced each nominee to swear allegiance to fossil fuels in order to be considered. But in other words, she’s no reformer.

The best we can hope for is that Chang would be a ‘replacement’ for Clements in that she’d occasionally call for climate change to be considered in FERC’s decision making, and she might issue some dissents on some LNG projects. Maybe. But not because of their climate and environmental justice impacts (which she promised not to consider.

So, click here to send a message to your Senators telling them to VOTE NO on at least two of the three FERC nominees. Together we can UnFrack FERC and change it into the Federal Renewable Energy Commission we need!

PS – here’s our short (about 1 minute) takes on each nominee from last week in case you missed it:

One Comment

  1. Pingback:Back at it to UnFrack FERC this April - 198 methods

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.