Joe Biden’s FERC Is Exacerbating America’s Energy Crisis

The Biden Administration’s war on fossil fuels is multi-pronged. Go after their financing through the ultra-woke ESG movement threatening banks from lending them the necessary capital. Go after their permitting with endless slow-walking by the bureaucrats in the Department of Interior. And go after the infrastructure by weaponizing agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) by stopping pipelines and other necessary projects.

While doing all this with one hand, you pour billions into unreliable wind and solar with the other.
Recently the American people watched Democrats in Congress jam through a massive, partisan climate change spending package. The $369 billion law is crammed with special-interest giveaways to the green energy sector, huge sums to hire 87,000 more IRS agents, and the establishment of a national green bank. It received zero Republican support and will be a major point of contention come Election Day.

That fight we lost. Now we need to look at the ones the American fossil fuel industry can still win. And the FERC battle could be the biggest energy fight this fall.

Back in February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, made an incredible political power play and almost got away with it. This relatively unknown five-person commission is tasked with, among other things, regulating the transmission of natural gas. That includes the approval of new natural gas projects like pipelines. The balance of power on the commission swings as the White House changes hands, so currently there are three Democratic commissioners and just two Republicans.

During the commission’s February meeting, Richard Glick, FERC’s Democratic chairman and his two fellow Democratic commissioners pushed through a policy designed to block construction of natural gas infrastructure. This rule would force private companies applying for permits to account for all greenhouse gas emissions from a pipeline project, that is, from production upstream all the way to combustion downstream. This task is basically impossible—which is the point.

Glick and his cohort used climate change as the defense for the new rule and argued they were compelled to take this action by the courts. But that argument didn’t hold water with Congress. The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY), took major issue with FERC’s new, completely unjustified policy. They dragged Glick and his fellow Democratic commissioners up to the committee to explain themselves.

During the hearing, Manchin slammed the effort saying: “to deny or put-up barriers to natural gas projects and the benefits they provide while Putin is actively and effectively using energy as an economic and political weapon against our allies is just beyond the pale.”

Barrasso didn’t mince words either. “These policies are going to make it next to impossible to build any new natural gas infrastructure or upgrade our existing facilities in the United States,” said Barrasso. “These orders are going to increase the costs for American families to heat and power their homes.”

The shellacking worked. Soon thereafter Glick and his fellow Democrats reversed course and labelled their terrible policy as a “draft.” But that doesn’t mean it’s gone.

Glick was quick to withdraw the rule because he was reading the political tea leaves for his political future. His term as a FERC commissioner expired in June and President Biden has renominated him to continue as chair of the commission. His nomination should make for an epic political battle after Labor Day when Congress returns from August recess.

Glick’s renomination will go before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee – the same committee that blasted his climate policy just six months earlier. The hearing will serve as a proxy fight for President Biden’s larger war on American energy.

Since Inauguration Day, the Biden administration has sought to punish American oil and gas producers at every turn. Biden cancelled the Keystone XL Pipeline, placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on federal lands, and slow-walked permits for major natural gas projects. Glick and FERC’s policy were an integral part of an overall strategy by Biden’s bureaucrats to slow or kill oil, coal, and natural gas production in the United States.

Glick’s nomination hearing will also come with an interesting Election Day plot twist: two of the Democratic senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee are in very tight races. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) face stiff challenges in their re-election bids. Americans who support domestic natural gas production should watch closely if these two senators vote to advance Glick’s nomination through an evenly divided Senate. It may impact whether they win or lose votes back in their home states.

To date, there is no confirmation hearing on the schedule for Richard Glick. But when it does happen, pay attention: it’s shaping up to be the biggest energy fight Congress will have this fall.

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