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FERC Confirmations Threaten to Continue Agency's Status Quo as Rubber-Stamp for Pipelines

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FERC Confirmations Threaten to Continue Agency's Status Quo as Rubber-Stamp for Pipelines
Rover Pipeline staging area in Ohio. Ted Auch / FracTracker Alliance

The Senate voted to confirm Donald Trump's nominees on Thursday for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson.


Chatterjee has a long track record of advocating on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. In his time working for Sen. Mitch McConnell, he spearheaded the push for Senate approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, sought to undermine U.S. leadership on the Paris climate accord, led McConnell's campaign to convince states to oppose the Clean Power Plan, and worked to lift the ban on crude oil exports.

As a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, Rob Powelson has at times been supportive of clean energy policies. However, he has shown a deep allegiance to the gas industry throughout his tenure, and has recently compared anti-gas activists to terrorists.

"It is disappointing to see the Senate confirm FERC Commissioners who have lengthy track records of prioritizing the interests of the fossil fuel industry over those of the American people," Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign, said. "As the gas industry is threatening a massive expansion of fracked gas projects, it is more important than ever that our FERC Commissioners put the health and safety of the public and our climate first, not rubber stamp any project the industry puts in front of them."

"Based on their records, we remain concerned that Chatterjee and Powelson will continue FERC's status quo, approving unneeded fracked gas pipelines that take private land for corporate gain and lock Americans into higher electricity rates while increasing our dependency on fossil fuels for decades to come," Moffitt continued. "While they may have moved through the confirmation process with ease, these nominees will be met with firm resistance from communities across the country who have fought against the buildout of fracked gas."

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

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