Barrasso: FERC’s New Pipeline Policies Will Damage America’s Energy Supply & Our Ability to Help Our Allies

March 3, 2022

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to review recent actions of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relating to permitting construction, operation of interstate natural gas pipelines, and other natural gas infrastructure projects. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Richard Glick, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Honorable James Danly, commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Honorable Allison Clements, commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Honorable Mark C. Christie, commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and the Honorable Willie L. Phillips, commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you for holding this important hearing.  

“And thank you for your very strong opening statement – properly critical of the political and partisan decision by the FERC to undermine our nation and our nation’s security. 

“Today, we will consider the FERC’s two recent policy statements on natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure. 

“It’s difficult to overstate the damaging impact of these two orders. 

“Damage to our own nation’s energy supply, damage to our ability to help our allies escape the trap from Russian energy. 

“These policies are going to make it next to impossible to build any new natural gas infrastructure or upgrade our existing facilities in the United States. 

“These orders are going to increase the costs for American families to heat and power their homes. 

“And they are going to undermine the reliability of our electric grid. 

“These orders were among the chief objectives of Commissioner Clements’ former employer – a group with a mission to block pipelines. 

“And now, by a purely partisan vote of 3 to 2, a majority on the Commission has delivered.

“The Commission’s majority is going to claim that it was time to update the 1999 policy statement on natural gas. 

“They are going to claim that the courts required the Commission to consider climate change when evaluating pipelines and related facilities. 

“Remember the president’s climate adviser, John Kerry, didn’t want what was happening in Ukraine by Russia and the deaths that were to come, to distract from the climate agenda that members of this Commission – in partisan way – seem to be more focused on than American national security. 

“Neither time nor the courts required the Commission to ram through these orders on a completely partisan basis. 

“Chairman Glick brought these orders forward only after the Senate had confirmed Commissioner Phillips. 

“The majority issued them when they no longer needed to compromise with Commissioners Danly and Christie.   

“And they wrote these orders in such a manner that casts doubt on whether anyone can challenge them in court. 

“Congress intended the Commission to be independent and non-partisan. 

“We now know it is a political arm of the White House – a White House intent on shutting down American oil and gas production. 

“The fact that the Commission issued these partisan orders as inflation hit record highs and just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is enough to astonish all Americans. 

“The U.S. Supreme Court has explained the principal purpose of the Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act. 

“It is to encourage the orderly development of plentiful supplies of electricity and natural gas at just and reasonable rates. 

“We now have a majority on FERC that doesn’t agree with the mission of FERC. 

“They want a new mission and are willing to violate the law in the process.  

“This radical, extreme, and dangerous majority now claims that the Natural Gas Act gives it the authority to reject an application for a natural gas pipeline on the basis of climate change. 

“This majority of the FERC claims that it can require applicants to mitigate for climate change and that applicants can pass mitigation costs on to American families. 

“These are sweeping new powers that have nothing to do with the Natural Gas Act. 

“I’m particularly disappointed in Commissioner Phillips. 

“During your confirmation hearing, you assured us, ‘The cornerstone of utility service is reliability.’ 

“Went on to say, ‘there are many people who are less fortunate…who depend on utility regulators to make sure that we have energy services that are efficient at the lowest possible reasonable rates.’ 

“These very people are going to have to decide if they can afford to heat or to eat as a result of this recent decision. 

“I can’t square those statements with his decision to approve these orders. 

“These orders are going to have the exact opposite effect of what he promised this committee just a few months ago. 

“We know what happens when partisans block efforts to build or upgrade natural gas pipelines and related infrastructure. 

“Prices continue to go up. 

“The electric grid is put at unacceptable risk. 

“We have seen it in New England. 

“We have seen it in California. 

“We have witnessed it across Europe, where millions have been forced to decide whether to pay their utility bills or put food on the table. 

“This committee has a responsibility to ensure that the Commission operates in a non-partisan manner – especially on its most consequential decisions. 

“We must insist that the Commission go back to the drawing board. 

“FERC must make major changes to these orders – changes that can win the support of Commissioners Danly and Christie.

“This committee should use every tool at our disposal – including our authority over future nominations to the Commission – to ensure that happens. 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”