Commissioner Colette Honorable of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced last Friday that she will quit when her term expires in June. This could leave the agency with only one commissioner, acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur. LaFleur, one of the few Obama appointees to be retained by President Trump, was the acting CEO of National Grid until 2010 when she joined FERC.
LaFleur, who was scheduled to speak recently at Duke University, saw her lecture nixed when activists from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) and the NC Alliance To Protect Our People And The Places We Live (NC APPPL) peacefully held up a “Rubber Stamp Rebellion” banner before she took the podium. The organizers responded by canceling LaFleur’s lecture. (Make sure not to miss this merry post over at Marcellus Drilling News.)
Lee Stewart of BXE explained the “Rubber Stamp Rebellion” to the students from Duke’s Nicholas School For The Environment: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not operate independently of the gas industry it supposedly regulates. FERC has only rejected one permit application in the past 30 years. This is simply unacceptable. FERC’s rubber stamping of gas industry projects must end.”
Did this event, one of a steady string of actions, motivate Honorable’s departure? Hard to tell, but something is happening at FERC. Indeed, more interesting than Honorable’s announcement of her departure, was the statement former FERC Chairman Norman Bay attached at the end of an order issued on his last day in office. This was just days after he wrote a letter of resignation extolling FERC’s feats. In his last-minute statement, Bay embraced many of the arguments that opponents of fracked-gas pipeline expansions have been making for years.
After rehashing the usual “lies, damned lies, and statistics” that ignore the full life-cycle impacts of fracked gas, Bay states in his remarkable farewell epiphany:
[T]he Commission should also be open to analyzing the downstream impacts of the use of natural gas and to performing a life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions study.
Of course, failing to do the latter is exactly what the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resource does in the “statistics” it presents for the proposed Invenergy-Raimondo power plant in Burrillville. Political expediency does not suspend the laws of nature, but in regulation money makes the world go around.
For more on former Chairman Bay’s born-again environmentalism read: