federal energy regulatory commission (FERC)

FERC Allowed Chairman McIntyre to Participate in Decisions Concerning his Former Clients

Read time: 3 mins
FERC's McIntyre and Glick

Ethics officials at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — the agency responsible for approving energy infrastructure such as interstate oil and gas pipelines and overseeing utilities — recently gave the OK for its new chairman, Kevin McIntyre, to be involved in decisions concerning two of his former clients and previous firm, DeSmog has found.

FERC Revolving Door Continues as Top Lawyer Leaves for Fossil Fuel Lobbying Firm

Read time: 4 mins
ExxonMobil Baton Rouge refinery

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on Eyes on the Ties.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the main regulatory agency that oversees the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil, and electricity. Made up of five commissioners and a staff of lawyers and other officials, FERC holds significant power over the approval and regulation of — among other things — proposed oil and gas pipelines that cross state lines or that will transmit fossil fuels from out of state.

FERC has also been a regular stopping point in the revolving door between the fossil fuel industry and the regulatory apparatus that overseas that industry. This trend continues, now, with the appointment of a top FERC attorney to McGuireWoods, a major lobbying firm.

FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Spent Much of His First Months in Office Meeting With the Fossil Fuel Industry

Read time: 6 mins
Rob Powelson

In his first few months at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), commissioner Rob Powelson scheduled the great majority of his meetings with fossil fuel energy companies and utilities, his work calendar shows. The calendar, obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, can be viewed below.

Nominated to FERC by President Trump, Powelson began serving on the commission last August. He previously served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Government Contractor Monitoring Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project Works Extensively for the Company

Read time: 5 mins
Enbridge building

A contractor working for the federal government to monitor construction of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge natural gas project works for the company in various other capacities, according to documents DeSmog obtained through an open records request.

Early last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project, which aims to upgrade Enbridge’s natural gas capacity in the Northeast U.S. The Atlantic Bridge project was originally initiated by Spectra Energy, which was purchased by Enbridge last February.

On Eve of Key Atlantic Coast Pipeline Decision, Here’s a Review of Dominion’s Ties to Decision-makers

Read time: 4 mins
Natural gas pipeline construction site in Pennsylvania

Starting on Thursday, December 7, the state of Virginia’s Water Control Board will convene for three key meetings to decide the fate of a number of contentious pipeline projects. On the agenda: whether or not to grant a water quality permit to the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile long, multistate fracked gas project led by Dominion Energy.

The Obscure Federal Agency That Soon Could Raise Your Electric Bill: 5 Questions Answered on FERC

Read time: 5 mins
Power lines

By Joshua D. Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin

Editor’s note: On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. Energy scholar Joshua Rhodes explains what FERC is and why it has so much power over energy markets and (indirectly) the prices consumers pay.

Subsidizing Coal and Nuclear Power Could Drive Customers off the Grid

Read time: 6 mins
Solar home

By Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University

Within the next month, energy watchers expect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on an order from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would create new pricing rules for certain power plants that can store fuel on site to support grid resilience. This initiative seeks to protect coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources.

FERC Allows Conflicted Contractor to Supervise Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project

Read time: 4 mins
FERC protest

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is permitting a contractor with a known conflict of interest to monitor Enbridge’s Atlantic Bride natural gas project. This decision joins a growing list of apparent conflicts of interest involved in the project, as DeSmog has extensively reported.

In an internal FERC memorandum sent this week, FERC’s ethics officer authorized the commission’s Office of Energy Projects to continue using a third-party contractor, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), that had produced the project’s environmental assessment. While the work of such contractors is paid for by the pipeline company, they are considered independent reviewers laboring under the supervision of FERC staff who must vet for possible conflicts of interest.

Trump’s New FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Accepted Gifts from Energy Industry as State Regulator

Read time: 5 mins
Robert Powelson during FERC commissioner nomination hearing in Senate

Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level.

Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

A Week After Leaving FERC, Former Commissioner Honorable Joins Firm Lobbying for Company Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Read time: 2 mins

Only one week after leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), former commissioner Colette Honorable has joined a law firm lobbying for Dominion Energy, the company behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Honorable is joining Reed Smith LLP, a firm lobbying in the state of Virginia for Dominion, the energy giant leading the proposed natural gas project. The Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile three-state line, still requires FERC’s approval.

Virginia lobbying disclosures show that Reed Smith has been lobbying for Dominion since at least 2015. The firm has so far assigned three lobbyists to work on Dominion’s behalf: William Thomas, Jeffrey Palmore, and Edward Mullen.

Honorable, a Democrat, was appointed as FERC commissioner by former President Obama in August 2014. Previously she served as chairperson of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Reed Smith hired Honorable as a partner in its international energy & natural resources practice.

As DeSmog previously reported, Honorable has ties to a senior executive at Southern Company, a minority stakeholder in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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