The U.S. Senate confirmed Neil Chatterjee, a Senate aide to majority leader Mitch McConnell, and Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania utility executive, for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) before adjourning for August recess last night. The confirmations restore the agency’s quorum. This means FERC can now move forward with reviewing plans for several pipelines under consideration, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
"We urge FERC to take the appropriate and careful measures necessary to protect the public interest when considering projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This administration's lack of organization has caused a backlog of projects waiting for FERC review, but the American people should not have to pay for this mismanagement with hastily approved pipelines," said Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. "FERC now has a quorum and, if it wants to move forward on considering the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, it should first grant our request for a hearing on whether that pipeline is even needed in our region."
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline currently being considered by FERC is set to cut across Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, including sections of the George Washington, and Monongahela national forests. Despite new research showing there’s no demand for the project, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, and their partners are rushing forward, even as local communities reject the plan. If built, the project would cause deforestation, water problems, and ultimately leave customers on the hook for the cost of its estimated $5 billion construction. Unless the questions concerning need are addressed, FERC risks approval of an unnecessary project that will cause irreparable damage to our natural environment and put undue burdens on ratepayers and landowners in Virginia and North Carolina.
SELC recently filed a motion calling for a hearing to assess whether there is even a need for the pipeline. This hearing has yet to be granted by FERC.