One Relatively Unknown Federal Agency Will Play A Big Role In Trump’s ‘Energy Dominance’ Agenda


From The Daily Caller

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senator Luther Strange in Huntsville, Alabama, U.S. September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Michael Bastasch

1:00 PM 09/23/2017

Most people probably haven’t heard of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), but this agency will be a major driver of energy infrastructure projects.

Those projects will aid President Donald Trump’s goal of boosting U.S. infrastructure and gaining “energy dominance.”

FERC will play a significant role in approving natural gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas export terminals, electric grid upgrades and other energy projects. The agency was unable to approve projects for months, building a $50 billion backlog of crucial energy projects.

Since FERC gained enough commissioners to reach a quorum in July, the agency has issued more than 65 notational orders and even overruled New York state officials to approve a natural gas pipeline.

“The United States will continue to use more natural gas, which means we need more pipelines and other infrastructure,” Steve Everley, spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Shortly after Trump took office, FERC went from three to two commissioners, which isn’t enough for a quorum to vote on pending energy projects. The Senate approved Trump appointees Rob Powelson and Neil Chatterjee in July.

By the time Trump’s nominees assumed their roles, FERC had held up the approval of at least six pipeline projects valued at $12 billion. More natural gas pipeline projects are also coming up before FERC.

One of Chatterjee’s first major moves as FERC chairman was to overrule New York regulators’ denial of a pipeline permit to the Millennium Pipeline Company on environmental grounds. FERC overturned New York’s decision, saying it had taken too long to issue it.

FERC also approved the NEXUS pipeline, which will bring natural gas from Appalachia to Michigan and Canada.

“Natural gas is also one of the fastest growing fuels worldwide, and the United States will be a major player in the global liquefied natural gas market,” Everley said. “FERC has an important role to play in all of that, making sure projects are properly reviewed and permitted.”

Developers of the $4.5 billion Atlantic Coast pipeline and the $3.5 billion Mountain Valley pipeline want to complete the projects before new environmental regulations take effect. Both those pipelines need FERC approval before they can move forward.

The one obstacle that could impede pipeline approvals: environmental activists.

Environmental groups have opposed many new natural gas pipeline projects around the country, taking cues from the campaign to keep the Keystone XL oil pipeline from being built during the Obama administration.

“They’ve even bragged about how they can harass FERC members and their families at their own homes, which is pretty disgusting,” Everley said. “But it’s an indication of how important FERC is.”

The so-called “Keep It In the Ground” movement sees pipelines as chokepoints it can strangle to keep natural gas and oil from getting to market.

Environmentalists won a small victory in August when a federal court ruled FERC did not properly consider the impacts that approving the Southeast Market pipeline project would have on global warming.

“This decision shows no matter what Donald Trump thinks about climate change, FERC cannot ignore the law,” Jeff Tittel, head of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey branch, told The Washington Examiner.

The Sierra Club sued to stop the pipeline from going forward after it received FERC approval in 2016. Environmentalists are likely to sue to stop future pipeline projects from going through.

“‘Keep It In the Ground’ is trying to make the Commission a focal point of its advocacy efforts because activists think they can score victories against American energy by blocking or delaying pipelines,” Everley said.

Texans for Natural Gas will soon release a report detailing the positive economic impacts that pipelines have on the economy.

The report claims natural gas pipelines support 160,000 jobs in Texas and “provide billions of dollars in state and local tax revenue to help fund public services that we all use,” reads a copy of the report provided to TheDCNF.

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September 25, 2017 1:05 pm

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission , what the FERC is that?

Bryan A
Reply to  Greg
September 25, 2017 2:33 pm

How these envirofascists would howl this winter if they had no Natural Gas for heating. Perhaps every known environmentalist should have their fossil fueled energy sources terminated. No Gas or Coal produced electricity, no Gasoline, no Gas heating or cooking, and no Gas water heater.

Dr Deanster
Reply to  Bryan A
September 25, 2017 5:43 pm

Not to be cruel …. but cruel I am. The names of people who block progress in energy should be recorded, documented, and then have their energy cut off after they have reached their quota determined by the percent renewable energy. So, if renewables account for 10% of the energy supply in their area, when they reach 10% of their average monthly usage, we pull the plug. We shut off natural gas, coal, and oil immediately.
Then sit back and let them enjoy the fruits of their activism.

September 25, 2017 1:12 pm

Not tired of winning yet

September 25, 2017 1:18 pm

Remarkable that a federal judge would support this farce of trying to prevent energy resources moving to market on the pretext that it will damage the weather, while ignoring that the most unpalatable producers and sellers of these resources in the Middle East and Russia will have unfettered access to markets and the gas will be consumed no matter what. As it becomes clearer that vested interests in Russia and the Middle East are funding these environmental pawns to do their bidding, you would think an educated judge would see through the charade.

Reply to  andrewpattullo
September 25, 2017 1:38 pm


Reply to  andrewpattullo
September 25, 2017 1:41 pm

… you would think an educated judge would see through the charade.

Education can blind people to the obvious.

… there is a lot of scientific sounding stuff that liberals really eat up. They love it when something is explained to them by someone who appears to be a great authority figure. link

You might be dismayed by some of the stuff that well educated judges can be made to believe. They think that believing outrageous crap means that they must be real smart.

Jeff Mitchell
Reply to  commieBob
September 25, 2017 3:50 pm

You presuppose that these judges are ignorant of conditions surrounding their rulings. That may not be so.

Tom O
Reply to  andrewpattullo
September 25, 2017 2:11 pm

George Soros and friends are neither Russian or Saudi, so I don’t see where you get either country as funding environmental pawns to do their bidding. These fools are funded by “Gaia first” people and those that are willing to use the useful idiots to create the need for a world government.

Reply to  Tom O
September 25, 2017 2:44 pm

Russia and the Saudi’s both know that their national incomes have been wrecked by the American fracking revolution. (Exceedingly well documented, this point is not in serious dispute) They also know that the fastest way back to regaining their former high income levels is for them to aid in any way any movement that would help to cut down any new American production. They also know, as does everyone who has seriously studied energy, that “renewables” are a bad joke that will never work except in very small, boutique applications.
Conclusion: if they can help to disrupt new American supplies, the price of oil on the world market will begin another inexorable rise, and their national incomes will soar again.
Therefore it is eminently logical, from a strictly business standpoint, for both of them to support these efforts as much as they can get away with doing.

sy computing
Reply to  Tom O
September 25, 2017 4:19 pm

Some additional evidence to bolster the correct logical point wws has made:
Key Republicans call for probe to see if Russia funded anti-fracking groups

What Did Hillary Know about Russian Interference?
A congressional committee examines the Kremlin’s campaign to influence U.S. energy policy.
By James Freeman Updated July 10, 2017 6:56 p.m. ET
As the search for evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government enters its second year, a senior congressional Republican sees mounting evidence that Russia has been engaged in a long-term campaign to disrupt the energy agenda now promoted by Donald Trump.
It is clearly in both Saudi Arabia’s as well as Russia’s best interest to disrupt the U.S. energy market as much and as far as possible. Their respective economies practically depend on it.

Reply to  andrewpattullo
September 26, 2017 9:59 am

Bingo…one has to wonder where the protest money comes from.

Bruce Cobb
September 25, 2017 1:23 pm

I believe the correct word to use is envirostalinists – or envirofascists, take your pick.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 25, 2017 7:55 pm

I prefer the simple term Eco-nuts.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 25, 2017 11:05 pm

No idea about the people behind this minority, but based on the banderols in the published pictures, their pet cause seem to be divestment.
There seem to be a market for non-petroleum household items distributing chain of shops. Suggesting label “Emperor’s”. Could extended from clothes and energy all the way to banking and insurances.

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
September 26, 2017 1:08 am

Subtle as a wrecking ball, but with the Warmunists usual level of self-knowledge it would probably work.

September 25, 2017 1:25 pm

The only thing countering the global temperature decline which would otherwise be occurring is rising global water vapor. NASA/RSS measure it by satellite and report it monthly. WV has been increasing 1.5% per decade, 8% since 1960. That is about twice as fast as it would from liquid water temperature increase alone. More than 96% of the WV increase results from irrigation.

September 25, 2017 1:28 pm

We’re FERCed.

Reply to  Max Photon
September 25, 2017 2:07 pm

Said the NY greenies and their progressive pol pals. Plus many, MP.

Ron Clutz
September 25, 2017 1:39 pm

FERC are doing their job, but as the post said, anti-pipeline activists are using the courts to stop progress, and access to reliable affordable energy. The case referred to above is delaying a pipeline required for Florida electricity. The dissenting judge, Justice Janice Brown wrote:
“I join today’s opinion on all issues save the Court’s decision to vacate and remand the pipeline certificates on the issue of downstream greenhouse emissions. Case law is clear: When an agency “‘has no ability to prevent a certain effect due to’ [its] ‘limited statutory authority over the relevant action[],’ then that action ‘cannot be considered a legally relevant cause’” of an indirect environmental effect under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).”
“Here, FERC declined to engage in an in-depth examination of downstream greenhouse gas emissions because there is no causal relationship between approval of the proposed pipelines and the downstream greenhouse emissions; and, even if a causal relationship exists, any additional analysis would not meaningfully contribute to its decision making. Both determinations were reasonable and entitled to deference.”
This ruling and a previous one from the same court, DC Court of Appeals shows how the judiciary are struggling with the climate issue. Background:

Reply to  Ron Clutz
September 25, 2017 2:04 pm

rc, the 9th circuit in San Fran and the DC circuit are reliably the two most liberal, Goofy, and overturned in the entire US. You cite a dissenting judge who got it exactly right. Will getnoverturned on further appeal after costs and delays eventually footed by voters. The more this happens, the more voters eventually become aware and then ‘deplorable’.

Reply to  ristvan
September 25, 2017 2:13 pm

The 9th circuit and DC circuit are not the most “overturned.” The 6th and 11th are over turned more than the 9th (6th @ 87%, 11th @ 85% and 9th @ 79%.) The DC circuit only get 45% overturned, which puts it 9th on the list:
Surprising that you as a lawyer didn’t know this.

Reply to  ristvan
September 25, 2017 3:02 pm

“Most overturned” & “percentage of cases overturned” are 2 completely different things.
Statistics are useful for honest people & dishonest people alike. Statistics used incorrectly are harmful to to the ignorant.
“Some individuals use statistics as a drunk man uses lamp-posts — for support rather than for illumination.” – Lang; 1937
But a more apt quote for Mr. Johnson: “… and critics who treat (internet) evidence as rational men treat all evidence, and test it by reason and by the knowledge which they have acquired, these are blamed for rashness and capriciousness by gentlemen who use (internet) as drunkards use lamp-posts,—not to light them on their way but to dissimulate their instability.” – Housman; 1903

Reply to  ristvan
September 25, 2017 3:02 pm

MSJ, Politifact is a left wing spin site. I wouldn’t trust it if it said the sun will rise in the East.
Reading the article, it cites percentages which still show it as #3, while “most overturned” would mean the raw number of overturned cases. Since the 9th circuit is the largest (at least according to your article) it’s entirely possible that the total number of overturned cases might be the highest of any circuit. Claiming what Hannity said was false although he never used the term percentage without addressing the actual number of overturned cases is evidence of its left wing spin.

Reply to  ristvan
September 25, 2017 3:17 pm

DonM and scarletmacaw: “most over turned???”

Consider this: Court A hears 10 cases, and gets 4 of them over turned. Court B hears 100 cases and gets 12 of them over turned. Both of you think Court B has the “most over turned. However, in line with your method of analysis, Court B also “gets the most right.” So, even though Court B has more cased over turned, it got 88 cases right as opposed to Court A getting 6 right.
When people denigrate the 9th circuit based on the number of cases that got overturned as opposed to the percentage, they are ignoring how many cases the 9th got right.
PS scarletmacaw, if you don’t like Politifact, try this:

Reply to  ristvan
September 25, 2017 4:46 pm

You also have to consider the number of cases taken by the Supreme Court, not just the total number of cases heard.

Reply to  Ron Clutz
September 25, 2017 2:25 pm

This court’s decision came out after the Sabal Trail pipeline – supplying Florida – had already been put into service.
I do not think it will inhibit supply to the new CCGT plants in Florida.

Phil R
Reply to  Ron Clutz
September 25, 2017 4:10 pm

You’re so wrong, i don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start here.

So, even though Court B has more cased over turned, it got 88 cases right as opposed to Court A getting 6 right.

ristvan and others that are way smarter than me can comment (and I would welcome such), but the fallacy in your comment is that just because a case was not overturned, it was right. There are many reasons why a bad or wrong decision might not be overturned.

sy computing
Reply to  Ron Clutz
September 25, 2017 4:35 pm

“PS scarletmacaw, if you don’t like Politifact, try this:
That link confirms ristvan’s claim as follows (bold mine):

The reversal rates in Figure 2 range between 55% and 84%. Interestingly, this comparison of reversal rates reveals that the Federal Circuit has the highest reversal rate at about 83.33%, and the Ninth Circuit has the second highest reversal rate at 80%.

Reply to  sy computing
September 25, 2017 5:05 pm

And also according to the link the “Federal Circuit” only deals in patent law. Excluding this specialized Circuit puts the 9th circuit #1 in percentage as well as gross number.

sy computing
Reply to  sy computing
September 25, 2017 5:20 pm


Congress created the Federal Circuit in 1982,11 vesting appellate jurisdiction in the court for all cases arising under the Patent Act. Major goals for this specialized court of appeals include “to promote uniformity and stability in the interpretation of patent law, to resolve the problems produced by differing views of regional circuit courts on the value of patents, and to eliminate the resultant forum shopping.”12

September 25, 2017 1:56 pm

This is all good, IMO. The crazier the greenies and warmunists get in their demands, the easier it will be for the general voting public to repudiate them. Same effect ANTIFA thugs are having on progressives and Berkeley ‘free speech’.

Tom Halla
September 25, 2017 2:00 pm

Perhaps a countersuit against the green NGO’s and their funding would have a salutary effect. RICO maybe?

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 25, 2017 2:31 pm

ETP is doing must that regarding the DAPL protests.
There were reports that serious charges were lodged against numerous arrested protectors in anticipation of plea bargaining down in return for learning who was paying them.
(Numerous reports of Craigslist ads offerring bonus, roundtrip airfare, and hourly salary for protesting).
If 1099s were not filed by contractor, charges could be filed.
We shall see if any of this comes to pass.

September 25, 2017 2:22 pm

FERC’s actions regarding Appalachian Basin gas pipelines over the next 24 months may be far more important than the above article implies.
With the numerous (10, or so) massive takeaway pipelines in some degree of being built/approved, the AB should be able to send out 35 Bcfd.
Big impact.
However, the bigger issue may be the stunting of the many preposterous wind/solar projects that are racing the clock as the tax credit window winds down.When the huge CCGT power plants are built and supplied in the next few years – most especially in the southeast – there will be no market need for these expensive renewable projects.
Hence, the ferocious efforts to stymie gas pipeline construction.
As an interesting aside, the whirly/Ra advocates are going nowhere sans a big build out in transmission lines.
Taking a page from the anti gas pipeline eco warriors, there is a fierce, growing pushback against both the spread of whirly farms and their takeaway wires.
Karma … just love it.

September 25, 2017 4:32 pm

Just have to reverse that endangerment finding

September 25, 2017 11:14 pm

Environmentalists won a small victory in August when a federal court ruled FERC did not properly consider the impacts that approving the Southeast Market pipeline project would have on global warming.

Depends how environmentalists define victory. The reputation and appreciation of NGOs, academia and parliaments are already in tatters. Next the justice system.

Berényi Péter
September 25, 2017 11:31 pm

Environmentalists won a small victory in August when a federal court ruled FERC did not properly consider the impacts that approving the Southeast Market pipeline project would have on global warming.
“This decision shows no matter what Donald Trump thinks about climate change, FERC cannot ignore the law,” Jeff Tittel, head of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey branch, told The Washington Examiner.

He is right. This is why it is importan Congress would amend the Clean Air Act, and amend it fast, that it meant to ban substances that are actually toxic in environmental concentration, not those being in an involved relation to human health or welfare. An amendment like that would effectively repeal EPA’s endangerment finding. One would think that’s easy with a Republican majority Congress. Not.

Retired Kit P
Reply to  Griff
September 26, 2017 2:19 pm

On the other hand what?
I suspect the Griff does not understand the EIS process or the word ‘significant’.
Everything including producing energy has an environmental impact, the question is if the impact is significant.
Wind and solar require mining and produces hazardous waste. Wind and solar must also follow the law.
The EIS process also must consider alternatives. It also must consider all environmental impacts.
There are other more important consideration, OSHA regulates safety. Making and distributing power is a very hazardous occupation but has an impressive safety record.
Finally there is the benefits of energy. The harsh reality is people die when the energy supply is disrupted. FERC works to maintain the supply of energy.
The measure of victory in the energy industry is the availability of energy. The measure of victory for environmental layers is convincing a judge of something so they can pay there dues at the country club.

September 26, 2017 8:11 am

Knowing a personal story related to a local pipeline protest makes me skeptical about aspects of this story. In the anecdote I have, eminent domain is being used a mechanism to take private land away from people for the purpose of building a pipeline. As is their right, I fully support them in fighting for their land, even to the extent of using “environmental” arguments. I wonder how many of these other projects have similar back stories.

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