Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Enviros ask Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren for FERC investigation

Twenty-four protesters were arrested for blocking a public passageway outside the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July, 2014.

Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennsylvania

As the shale boom leads to an expansion of pipeline infrastructure, the once-obscure Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been targeted by environmental activists. In July 2014, 24 protesters were arrested for blocking a public passageway outside its Washington D.C. offices.

Dozens of environmental groups and activists from the Northeastern U.S. sent a letter to Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren this week, asking for an investigation into the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The agency is charged with siting and approving much of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure.

“We’re asking for an investigation of FERC and their process because it’s shady,” says Tim Spies of Lancaster Against Pipelines. “They’re rubber stamping everything.”

In the letter, the groups call FERC “a demonstrably biased agency that has become a partner with, rather than a regulator of, the pipeline companies it purports to oversee.”

The letter asks presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to request that the Government Accountability Office conduct an investigation. The two Democrats serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

A FERC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Industry groups have countered that pipelines are needed to unleash a bottleneck of gas that has developed in the wake of the shale boom. For example as New England has become increasingly reliant on natural gas for its electricity, the region has seen volatile prices in recent years, partly due to uncertainty around its gas supply.

Sanders’ office says it has received the letter and is reviewing it. Warren’s office did not immediately respond.

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