FERC

Congressman Asks Gas Industry to Join Him as ‘3 Percenters,’ Fails to Mention Movement's Ties to White Supremacists

Read time: 9 mins
Clay Higgins

Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana arrived at this year's Expanding Global Gas Infrastructure seminar with a message.

Welcome to the war for the future of our planet,” Higgins said to the gathered officials from liquefied natural gas (LNG) firms and other fossil fuel companies.

My role as your representative is to be not just your ally,” Higgins added, “but your warrior. Please allow the service of my office to represent the point of the spear that you wield. We'll knock down every bureaucratic wall. We'll kick down every federal barrier. We'll work with you. We'll work for you.”

Rick Perry and Bob Murray Renew Conservative Call to Subsidize Coal

Read time: 7 mins
Bob Murray

Conservative rancor toward the free market in energy systems was on full display this week, as both Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and coal magnate Robert Murray made loud, unapologetic calls to subsidize coal-fired power plants.

We don’t have a free market in the [electricity] industry, and I’m not sure you want one,” Perry said Monday at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit.

Speaking on Tuesday, Murray, CEO of the country's largest underground mining company, said that Perry “has to approve” an emergency bailout for coal and nuclear plants in order to “ensure the resilience, reliability, and security of the grid.”

FERC, Which Rejected 2 Gas Pipelines Out of 400 Since 1999, to Review Approval Policy

Read time: 5 mins
Beyond Extreme Energy protesters outside the FERC headquarters

The new chairman for the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Kevin McIntyre, says the agency plans to review its permitting process and procedures for natural gas pipelines.

FERC has come under fire for serving as a “rubber stamp” for these pipelines, which these days mostly carry gas obtained via the horizontal drilling and injection technique known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). The agency has rejected only two out of the approximately 400 pipeline applications received since 1999, when it last updated its gas pipeline review process. That's according to a report published in November by Susan Tierney, currently employed by economic consulting firm Analysis Group and former member of the Obama-era Department of Energy's Natural Gas Subcommittee.

1999 was quite a while ago, particularly in the natural gas pipeline area. So much has changed. So much has changed in our entire industry, of course, since then,” McIntyre told reporters at a December 21 FERC meeting, according to The Hill. “But it would be hard to find an area that has changed more than natural gas and our pipeline industry.”

GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports

Read time: 7 mins
LNG tanker

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The bill, titled “Small Scale LNG Access Act,” was introduced on October 18 and calls for amending the “Natural Gas Act to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas.” The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed rule which would assume that all U.S. small-scale exports of LNG, with the gas mostly obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), is in the “public interest” as defined by the Natural Gas Act.   

FERC Approved NEXUS Pipeline After Companies Behind Project Lobbied for New Commissioners

Read time: 4 mins
Powelson and Chatterjee

In one of their first major decisions on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), President Trump’s newly appointed commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson approved the controversial NEXUS natural gas pipeline.

Yet DeSmog has found that in the months leading up to the appointment of the new commissioners, the companies behind the pipeline engaged in a lobbying blitz to support their nomination and confirmation.

Exclusive: Here Are the Energy Companies Represented by Trump’s Nominee to Head FERC

Read time: 5 mins
FERC headquarters

President Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has, as a corporate attorney, personally represented a host of energy and utility companies, many of which do business that is directly impacted by FERC’s decisionmaking. According to Kevin McIntyre’s financial disclosure — obtained by DeSmog and published here for the first time — these include major utilities, fracking companies, pipeline builders, and international energy corporations.

McIntyre is a lawyer who co-leads the global energy practice for the legal and lobbying firm Jones Day, and is currently awaiting final Senate confirmation of his appointment to the nation’s top energy regulatory body. That confirmation may come as soon as this week.

Revealed: Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's Close Ties to Lobbyists For Spectra Energy, Whose Pipeline Projects He Backs

Read time: 7 mins
Bill Weld and Charlie Baker walking together in Baker's gubernatorial campaign video

There has been fierce opposition across Massachusetts to the natural gas pipeline projects of Spectra Energy — residents, campaigners, and politicians have been lining up to oppose the pipelines that will run across the state.

But none of this opposition has swayed the state's governor, Charlie Baker, who has consistently backed Spectra's plans.

However, DeSmog can reveal a cozy relationship between Baker and a lobbying company that has been working to push Spectra's plans through. Those ties run from publicly declared “love” between one lobbyist and Baker to a loaning of office space.

Exxon’s Fracking Linked to 176 Official Complaints in Rural Pennsylvania

Read time: 7 mins

The investigative journalism outlet Public Herald documented that ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has been the subject of 176 citizen complaints in Pennsylvania, many of them drinking water-related. The state is home to the Marcellus Shale basin, the most prolific field for obtaining natural gas via hydraulic fracturing ('fracking”) in the U.S. and an early hotbed of debate on fracking's potential threats.

In its investigation, the Pennsylvania-based publication spent three years digging up complaints submitted by the state's citizens to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). With documents spanning from 2004–2016, the complaints previously have been concealed from the public, and Public Herald says they show “evidence of widespread and systemic impacts” of fracking on water in the state.

A DeSmog review of files housed on the investigation's document-hosting website, PublicFiles.org, shows dozens upon dozens of these wells were owned by XTO. The finding comes as President Donald Trump's nominees for U.S. Secretary of State, recently retired ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General and EPA antagonist Scott Pruitt, await full U.S. Senate floor hearings and eventual confirmation votes.

Exxon, Qatar Petroleum Get OK to Export U.S. Fracked Gas Amidst Tangled Ties to Russia, ISIS

Read time: 6 mins
Saturday Night Live skit showing parody of Tillerson, Putin, and Trump

Just days before Christmas, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave ExxonMobil a gift: a permit to export natural gas from its Golden Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility located in Sabine Pass, Texas. 

Dubbed Golden Pass Products, the expansion of this LNG facility to export gas is a joint venture between Exxon (30 percent stake) and Qatar Petroleum (70 percent stake), the state-owned oil company. Golden Pass LNG is now the fourth LNG export facility, and third situated along the Gulf of Mexico, approved under the Obama administration.

This facility will continue to open up the global market to U.S. natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)

The permit for Golden Pass comes shortly after Exxon's CEO, Rex Tillerson, was named Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State and will likely face a tough Senate confirmation hearing in January, mainly due to his close ties to Russia.

As Dakota Access Protests Escalated, Obama Admin OK’d Same Company for Two Pipelines to Mexico

Read time: 6 mins
Left, Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and right, U.S. President Barack Obama

On September 9, the Obama administration revoked authorization for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) on federally controlled lands and asked the pipeline's owners, led by Energy Transfer Partners, to voluntarily halt construction on adjacent areas at the center of protests by Native Americans and supporters.

However, at the same time the pipeline and protests surrounding it were galvanizing an international swell of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its Sacred Stone Camp, another federal move on two key pipelines has flown under the radar.

In May, the federal government quietly approved permits for two Texas pipelines — the Trans-Pecos and Comanche Trail Pipelines — also owned by Energy Transfer Partners. This action and related moves will ensure that U.S. fracked gas will be flooding the energy grid in Mexico.

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