Watch “Getting to Clean Energy with Ted Glick” on YouTube
By TED GLICK

Tribune Environmental, Governance, Health, History, National, New York State, Politics, Technology, Westchester County, NY Leave a Comment

“Getting to Clean Energy With Ted Click on YouTube”
Introduction By MARILYN ELIE

Marilyn Elie is an original member of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, and co-founder of the Westchester Citizens Awareness Network. Archival photo taken of Marilyn Elie by and courtesy of Roger Witherspoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — January 2, 2021 — This illuminating talk by long time activist Ted Glick details how a federal agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been captured by the fossil fuel industry and rubber stamps requests for expansion without studying repercussions for climate change.

Ted’s legislative proposal to turn FERC into FREC – the Federal Renewable Energy Commission – would make this key agency a major player in creating a fossil free and nuclear free green energy policy that our country so desperately requires.
See the video for contact numbers and other sources of information. Clicking on like is an encouragement to all of us who worked on producing this video. Special thanks to Charlie Olson and The Environment TV.  None of this would have happened without him.
What can you do?  First educate yourself on how the system works.  Understand the critical  legislative changes that would fight climate change and keep our planet livable.  Finally, speak to your elected officials and let them know that you care about this issue.  Do what you can but do something!
Herein is the FERC to FREC plan in the body of this email.  This is a valuable resource.  Use it and quote from it freely.
In Solidarity,
Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
United 4 Clean Energy
www.ipsecinfo
Channel 74, Environmental News and Notes
Charlie Olson
Environment TV
Manhattan Neighborhood TV
Staten Island Community TV

Beyond Extreme Energy Report: 

Legislative Case for a New Federal Renewable Energy Commission

Contents

Summary Statement of Our Proposal    2

Our Proposal    2

Related Congressional and Other Initiatives    4

Appendix: FREC Proposals Compared to House Select Committee Report    6

Public Participation and Benefit, Due Process, and Governance    6

FREC    6

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis    6

Infrastructure Strategy    7

FREC    7

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis    7

Emissions and Cumulative Impacts    8

FREC    8

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis    8

Summary Statement of Our Proposal

BXE is proposing Congressional action to sunset FERC and replace it with FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission, with an explicit mandate to play a leading role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables—wind, sun, moving water (no new dams) and geothermal, and battery storage.

  • Commissioners of FREC must be champions of renewable energy and free of conflicts of interest.

  • FREC would be funded through appropriations, not industry fees which encourage corruption.

  • FREC would actively seek involvement and input from various environmental justice communities, especially Indigenous nations, people of color and low-income people, communities which have disproportionately suffered from fossil fuel development and operations throughout our nation’s history.

  • FREC would operate with transparency and active promotion of community-based involvement in decision-making as a new electrical grid is built based on renewables with storage.

  • There would no longer be any eminent domain for private gain, no tolling, no forcing landowners into court as standard operating policy.

Our Proposal

Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) encourages a robust debate of and quick action to address the systemic abuses of the law and people’s rights and the serious impacts on our disrupted climate and natural environment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This debate must include Indigenous and frontline communities and other stakeholder groups.

FERC was created in 1977 when Congress passed the Department of Energy Reorganization Act. Forty-three years later, it’s time for a new, 21st century electricity and energy oversight body. There is historic precedent for this.

In 1935 Congress transformed the Federal Power Commission, created in the 1920’s, into an independent regulatory agency. It was authorized to regulate both hydropower and interstate electricity. In 1977 the FPC was renamed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as an independent agency within the newly-created Department of Energy. Its primary mandate was to regulate the electricity grid. Since then its responsibilities have expanded, including that of making decisions about the expansion of the natural gas industry, today a primarily “fracked” gas industry.

FERC is widely seen as a captured agency, captured by the industries it regulates. An investigative article in Greenwire in April, 2015, “Employees negotiate for industry jobs under agency’s eye,” summarized it this way: “Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings. Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules. In addition, FERC employees have held stock in or remain part of pension plans from companies that can be affected by the agency’s work.”

Over the last 20 years, according to a report issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in April, 2020, FERC has approved 1021 gas industry permit applications, and has rejected no more than six.

It is clear that the scope of the actions necessary to urgently address the deepening climate emergency and to restore public trust in the fairness of the US federal electricity and energy regulatory system disqualifies FERC as it exists today. Although we believe many FERC employees have the public interest in mind, are concerned about climate change, and understand the importance of transitioning to renewables, the hard reality is that the FERC culture, saturated with decades of narrow-minded pursuit of an ill-advised fossil fuel build out, is more an impediment than an asset. FERC in its present form cannot be trusted to analyze the envisioned changes and propose commensurate regulatory changes in enough time or comprehensiveness.

FERC must be replaced by FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission, with an explicit Congressional mandate to play a leading role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables and battery storage. It must be fully funded through appropriations. It cannot be dependent, as FERC now is, upon fees paid by companies applying for permits, an on-its-face recipe for corruption since continued expansion of those industries leads to more income.

A new FREC must understand the urgency of the climate crisis and must act accordingly. Such an agency must regain the public trust by operating in a transparent and democratic manner to help lead the US transition away from an energy system powered by fossil fuels to one powered primarily by elemental renewables (sun, wind, water–waves, tides, and currents—and geothermal energy). This work must be conducted in a way that is just and truly in the public, not corporate, interest.  FREC must be focused on advancing a just and rapid transition to, and community-based involvement in, the operation of a national sustainable electric grid, taking appropriate action to address our climate catastrophe while providing unionized jobs with good wages, benefits, and safety protocols.

A new FREC would recognize in practice the right of all people to clean air, safe and affordable drinking water, protection from climate hazards, and the sustainable preservation of the ecological integrity and aesthetic, scientific, cultural, and historical values of the natural environment. It would understand that for many low-income and people of color communities this has not been the case for a very long time, and it would affirmatively carry out an environmental justice approach in all of its deliberations and interactions.

FERC must be solely focused on maintaining the safety of sunsetting fossil fuel infrastructure as it is removed from the national grid, at the same time that a new Federal Renewable Energy Commission acts to advance clean, renewable energy to replace it as soon as possible.  Current FERC responsibilities not related to sunsetting fossil fuel infrastructure must be divested to other agencies.

Related Congressional and Other Initiatives

There are several other Congressional initiatives with goals shared by the FERC Into FREC initiative and supported by Beyond Extreme Energy. A key one is the Green New Deal, explained in general concept in a resolution introduced in early 2019: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/109/text. A more recent one, related to the Green New Deal, is the Thrive Agenda, introduced in September, 2020: https://www.thriveagenda.com/agenda. An important environmental justice bill, sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva, the Environmental Justice For All Act, was introduced in February, 2020: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5986/text.

Another important initiative is the work of the VOICES coalition, a network of hundreds of frontline and other groups which has put together a comprehensive set of reforms to FERC which BXE has supported.

Another recent Congressional initiative is the 547 page document prepared by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis – Solving the Climate Crisis https://climatecrisis.house.gov/report. This committee was set up in 2019 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. To its credit, in their very comprehensive document released in June, 2020, they made a number of proposals for reform of FERC.

Beyond Extreme Energy is pleased that they did this. It is a sign that there are winds of change blowing that, in the context of a range of actions to address the climate emergency, will include change at FERC. Although BXE believes the problems at FERC are so deep-seated that it must be replaced by a new Federal Renewable Energy Commission, we support many of the Select Committee’s specific proposals, such as:

-“Congress should direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to develop a comprehensive, long-range electric infrastructure strategy and implement such other rules and regulations as are necessary to achieve 100% net-zero electricity generation by no later than 2040 and support any state policies that establish more stringent standards.” BXE comment: Consistent with an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2018, we believe the goal should be a fossil fuel free electricity grid by 2030, and we believe the objective should be 100% renewable energy, not “net-zero,” which is unclear.

-“Congress should provide funding for DOE to analyze existing onshore and offshore transmission systems to identify what the requirements would be to connect 50 GW of offshore wind. DOE should identify the environmental and economic benefits of developing offshore transmission. Consistent with recommendations elsewhere in this report about a national electric infrastructure strategy, FERC should develop a National Offshore Wind Transmission Plan.” BXE comment: “50 GW” of offshore wind is much too small of a goal. The American Wind Energy Association says that there are over 2,000 GW of offshore wind available off US shores, almost double the US’s current electricity use.

“Congress should reauthorize the Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy at FERC to review and resolve barriers to public participation, and to provide intervenor funding before FERC and organizations with FERC-designated authority.” BXE comment:  The establishment of such an office was part of the enabling legislation that created FERC in 1978. 42 years later it has never been implemented by any of the leadership bodies at FERC, which is a very loud statement about how seriously FERC wants or considers public, non-industry input.

“Congress should direct FERC to finalize the rulemaking to enable networks of DERs [Distributed Energy Resources] to aggregate and compete in wholesale power markets. The rule should allow consumer and aggregator participation in all states with FERC-jurisdictional markets.”  BXE comment: DER’s are small, mainly local, companies that primarily produce renewable energy and/or provide battery storage. It is essential and critical that our nation’s electrical grid regulator actively encourage the spread of bottom-up and locally-controlled renewables and storage for the additional electricity, reliability and democracy they bring to the overall system.

-“Congress should amend the Natural Gas Act and the Federal Power Act to allow FERC 60 days to act upon an application for a rehearing and issue a final agency action subject to judicial review. Congress should amend the Natural Gas Act to preclude pipeline developers from exercising the right of eminent domain or beginning construction, tree felling, and other ground disturbance until the 60-day time period has elapsed. Congress should clarify in the statute that if FERC does not issue a final agency action subject to judicial review within 60 days, the application will be deemed denied and will be treated as a final agency action subject to judicial review.”  BXE comment: This would be a big change from how FERC, for decades, has kept local groups challenging a FERC permit approval out of court, stringing them along for as long as 15 months before ruling—always against—required administrative appeals to
FERC of their permit. During that time, in some cases, pipeline companies have broken ground and actually completed the challenged project before FERC finally rules against the appeal, all that time keeping the local group out of court.

                                             ————————————

Here is how Narayan Subramanian from Data for Progress articulated a key aspect of a new FREC in an article in Politico, “A Federal Renewable Energy Commission? Democrats flirt with overhaul of FERC,” on December 12, 2019: “I think the potential for a Federal Renewable Energy Commission is really clarifying FERC’s statutory authority so it can move forward with no ambiguity on a mandate to decarbonize the electricity sector.”

Someone once said that you can’t put new wine into old bottles. That is why you cannot put a “renewable energy first” mindset and practice into the existing 20th century FERC. You need a new, renamed agency. You need a new mission statement which commits the new agency to helping lead the urgently-needed transition away from fossil fuels and nukes to renewables and battery storage as the primary source of electricity and energy. And you need requirements for that new agency’s leadership that include commitments to transparent and democratic interaction with local people where new projects are being proposed and to renewables first. That is why we say that it is time for FERC Into FREC.

Appendix: FREC Proposals Compared to House Select Committee Report

This appendix includes a listing of all major proposals related to FERC from the report by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and all proposals from Beyond Extreme Energy and the 200+ organizations around the country that support FERC Into FREC.

Public Participation and Benefit, Due Process, and Governance

FREC

  • FREC should support and provide assistance to local communities that decide to enact renewables-friendly policies like community choice aggregation.

  • FREC should spread positive results from states that effectively manage renewables investment, construction, and operation to those which don’t.

  • FREC should plan for and regulate the full cycle of renewable energy infrastructure (including obsolescence and abandonment) and raw material and precious metal sourcing. It would end abusive mining processes that negatively affect the health of workers and nearby communities, including Indigenous workers and communities.

  • FREC should support enabling legislation and regulations to address the seriously disproportionate environmental degradation of Indigenous, people of color and low-income communities, by the fossil fuel industry and related industries, like the ethane “cracking” process to make plastic.

  • FREC should take steps to improve its project inspection and reporting and public access to the reporting. It should improve and simplify its process for public comments on proposed projects.

  • FREC should provide assistance for citizens negotiating leases, easements and damages reparation, based upon fair baselines and standards.

  • A new FREC would not be a revolving door for its leaders and employees with the fossil fuel industry, as FERC is currently. An investigative article in April, 2015 in Greenwire summarized it this way (3): “Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings. Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules. In addition, FERC employees have held stock in or remain part of pension plans from companies that can be affected by the agency’s work.”

  • Leaders and employees of a new Federal Renewable Energy Commission must be personally and professionally committed to the historic task of shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewables. Leaders must be chosen based not upon their ties to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries but on their experience with and commitment to renewables and must adhere to additional, specific ethics requirements.  By renewables we mean energy from the sun, the wind, water, whether from tides, waves or currents, and the relative heat, in winter, and relative coolness, in summer, of the earth’s below-ground temperature.

  • FREC’s funding stream must not be dependent on fossil fuel industry “fee-for-service.” Right now ALL of FERC’s budget comes from fees on industries that have business before FERC. It is in the financial interest of FERC to have as much business with them as possible. Given the power of the fossil fuel industry, this encourages corruption and pro-industry bias.

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

  • Pair a carbon price with policies to achieve measurable air pollution reductions from facilities located in environmental justice (EJ) communities, which face chronic and acute health impacts from a legacy of industrial development in their neighborhoods

  • Respect states and localities that have led the nation in climate action

  • Direct a significant percentage of this spending to communities most affected by the economic transition away from fossil fuel consumption and environmental justice communities. These communities should receive federal spending and investment first, most often, and in larger amounts. All federal investments and grants should require the use of CBAs and PLAs and comply with strong prevailing wage laws

  • Effective inter-regional planning in line with the principles outlined in the CLEAN Future Act and the Moving Forward Act

  • Increase the effectiveness of transmission planning within a region

  • Federal funding and technical assistance for state, local, and tribal authorities to conduct transmission planning . . . incentives for economic development to these state, local, and tribal jurisdictions

  • Review and resolve barriers to public participation, and to provide intervenor funding

  • Identify all feasible non-transmission alternatives to transmission projects

  • Minimum requirements for stakeholder processes at each RTO/ISO (inclusive, fairly balance diverse interests, allow for representation of minority positions, and maintain ongoing responsiveness, minimum transparency requirements)

  • Public participation and intervenor funding

  • Landowners receive actual notice

  • Preclude (pipeline) developers from exercising the right of eminent domain, tree felling, or other ground disturbance until they receive all necessary federal and state permits

Infrastructure Strategy

FREC

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, is a 20th century agency intertwined with and dominated by the fossil fuel industry. Over the last 20 years, for example, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee, FERC has received 1021 gas industry applications, and has rejected no more than six.  In this 21st century of severe climate disruption worldwide, we need a Federal Renewable Energy Commission, FREC, which plays a leadership role in the urgently-needed transition away from fossil fuels to non-polluting renewables and energy efficiency.

  • FREC would operate with transparency, such as user-friendly, publicly-facing technology. It would be transparent and communicative especially during the process of planning and constructing projects. It would actively promote community engagement and education to help the citizenry at the grassroots to understand, support and have input into the needed shift from fossil fuels to renewables and efficiency.

  • As distinct from the way FERC operates, potentially affected and proximate communities must be notified from the very beginning of planning processes for proposed new and/or expanded energy infrastructure. A new FREC culture, as distinct from FERC’s culture, would be about transparency and cooperation with potentially affected communities. Those communities must be given sufficient support, including funding, to enable them to fully participate in decision-making processes at state and federal levels regarding those proposed projects.

  • FREC should actively work with the US Armed Forces to accelerate their transition away from fossil fuels, particularly with respect to their participation in a sustainable national grid.

  • FREC should promote a more decentralized and renewables-diversified energy grid, which will make it more resilient, strengthen the process of decarbonization, and maintain affordable and reliable access to electrical energy, including for disadvantaged populations.

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

  • Consider the True Cost of Carbon Pollution in Federal Rulemakings

  • Ensure that the U.S. tax code aligns with the national goal of achieving net-zero emissions by no later than 2050. As a start, Congress should repeal unnecessary tax breaks for the oil and gas industry

  • Establish a carbon pricing system designed to achieve America’s economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of net-zero by no later than 2050

  • Achieve 100% net-zero electricity generation by no later than 2040 and support any state policies that establish more stringent standards

  • Enhance the development, supply, or delivery of onshore and offshore renewable energy

  • National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors

  • Advanced transmission technologies

  • HVDC transmission lines

  • Networks of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to aggregate and compete in wholesale power markets

  • Improve generator interconnection queues

  • Manage the exchange of electricity between RTOs and ISOs and the independent balancing authorities in the Western and Southeastern parts of the country

  • Better integrate renewable energy, battery storage, storage-as-transmission, hybrid resources, distributed energy resources, and demand response in wholesale power markets

  • Federal resilience standards

  • Minimize the regional grid impacts of preventative power shutoffs to reduce wildfire risks

  • Landowners receive actual notice

  • Preclude (pipeline) developers from exercising the right of eminent domain, tree felling, or other ground disturbance until they receive all necessary federal and state permits

  • Reaffirm that large regional power exchange and planning are consistent with the public interest

Emissions and Cumulative Impacts

FREC

  • FREC’s new purpose must be made explicit in a mission statement which commits it to lead the urgent work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting to a renewable, jobs-creating, justice-based and energy efficient power grid and economy, what many call a Green New Deal. Such a transition will benefit the American public as a whole financially and health-wise, while significantly contributing to the historic task of avoiding climate catastrophe.

  • FREC should establish a broadly-based mechanism to ensure regularized input from scientists and public health professionals. It must rigorously assess cumulative impacts upon communities, especially Black, Indigenous and other people of color and low-income communities which often lack the resources to defend themselves, for each and every policy, regulation, and permit.

  • FREC would reverse FERC’s de facto policy of providing permits for virtually every proposed gas industry expansion project. It would de-prioritize any new fossil fuel expansion while prioritizing the development of clean, renewable energy.  FREC would have the authority to revoke certain FERC permits.

House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

  • Consider all factors relevant to the public convenience and necessity, including upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions, community and landowner impacts, and market necessity on a long-term and regional basis

  • National methane pollution reduction goal for the oil and gas sector of 65% to 70% by 2025 and 90% by 2030, relative to 2012 levels, and phase out routine flaring of methane

  • Eliminate methane leaks from natural gas distribution lines within 10 years

  • Close exemptions for the oil and gas industry in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Recovery and Conservation Act

  • Prohibit a pipeline developer from exercising eminent domain authority for pipelines attached to LNG terminals where the primary purpose of the pipelines is to support the export of natural gas

  • 100% clean electricity generation by 2040

  • Find rates unjust, unreasonable, unduly discriminatory, or preferential if they do not incorporate the cost of externalized greenhouse gas emissions

  • States regulate or tax greenhouse gas emissions from sources located in their state or associated with the production of electricity consumed in their state

TribuneWatch “Getting to Clean Energy with Ted Glick” on YouTube
By TED GLICK

Leave a Reply

This comment will be displayed anonymously. Your name and email address will not be published.

Comments that are off topic will be removed. If you want a topic to be covered, email me at: ehezi@hush.com

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.