Barrasso: We Need More and Better Energy Infrastructure

May 4, 2023

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 opening remarks at a full committee hearing to conduct oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission).

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Willie Phillips, Chairman of FERC; The Honorable James Danly, Commissioner; The Honorable Allison Clements, Commissioner; and, the Honorable Mark Christie, Commissioner.

For more information on witness testimony click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Thanks so much Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding today’s hearing.

“Chairman Phillips, Members of the Commission – welcome back to the Committee.

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a critically important agency.

“To quote Chairman Phillips from earlier this year, the services that the Commission regulates ‘energy, natural gas, electricity – [are] 7% of our economy . . . [they are] the first 7%, because without our energy there is so much that we cannot do.’

“Chairman Phillips, I commend you for resetting the Commission’s agenda.

“You have brought Orders forward for discussions, and for action.

“You have emphasized energy reliability, and affordability.

“You have rightly highlighted the negative effects on families and on communities when energy prices are high.

“You have emphasized personal respect as a necessary condition for consensus on the Commission and elsewhere.

“Under your leadership, the Commission has made great progress since you took over just four months ago.

“I’m not always agreeing with all your decisions. The Commission still, I believe, must do much more to accomplish what I expect is our shared goal of – affordable, reliable, and secure energy for American families and businesses.

“We also should strive to produce enough energy to supply friendly nations seeking to reduce their dependence on hostile actors, such as Russia.

“Currently, we are far from achieving these goals.

“Last month, the Energy Information Administration issued a report stating that ‘In 2022, the least interstate natural gas pipeline capacity was added since we began data collection in 1995.’

“Our nation needs more and better energy infrastructure.

“The entities that finance, build, maintain, and expand energy infrastructure and their customers rely on the Commission to act promptly.

“The Commission must speed up its process and balance energy interests more effectively.

“Companies and customers expect the Commission to act only within the scope of its authority.

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

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

“Commissioners – Congress has charged you with this mission and you must make it your central focus.

“You must resist those who want to use the Commission to circumvent Congress and fundamentally change the nation’s energy sector.

“You must work to ensure that wholesale power markets reflect the value of reliable sources of energy.

“You must fight against litigation intended to block new and upgraded natural gas pipeline and electric transmission lines.

“You must resist efforts from other federal agencies to undermine the development of needed energy infrastructure.

“If you don’t take these steps, energy prices will skyrocket, grid reliability will degrade, and families and businesses all across the country will suffer.

“We have witnessed it in New England.

“We witnessed it in California and elsewhere.

“We also witnessed it in Europe – before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – when energy regulators lost sight of their principal mission.

“This must not be the path that we follow as a nation.

“Commissioners, it’s beyond time to take meaningful steps to address threats to reliable, affordable, and resilient electric service.

“The Commission must operate in a non-partisan manner supporting this central mission.

“That is especially important when it comes to the Commission’s most consequential decisions.

“For this reason, this now-draft 2022 Natural Gas Policy Statements needs to be scrapped.

“The Commission needs to solely pursue reasonable and balanced policies that support the development of plentiful supplies of affordable electricity and natural gas.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”