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Letter: FERC vacancy could disrupt U.S. climate goals

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Regardless of the outcome of the 2022 election, it does not look like the gridlock on approving federal vacancies is going to end anytime soon. For example, look at the federal judges where 89 of the 870 seats are currently vacant. Some of the nominees have been waiting for a vote since December.

Many federal departments have administrative vacancies, and one that may be important for Western New York is the opening in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The term of the current chair, Richard Glick, expired in June, but he is allowed to continue through the end of the current session of Congress (or until a successor is appointed.) President Biden put his name up for nomination again in May.

His continued tenure would allow Glick to overhaul the agency’s rules for the realities of managing energy resources in the 21st century. FERC reviews plans for electric transmission and generation interconnection, and he has sought to revise the criteria the commission uses when reviewing proposed oil and natural gas infrastructure. They are the party that approved (under current guidelines) National Fuel’s request for a second extension to build the Northern Access Pipeline by December, 2024 despite New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permit denials due to adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, fish and other wildlife habitat. This pipeline will bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania through Western New York for eventual export to Canadian markets.

Approval of the renomination of Glick has been held up interest on both sides of the aisle that wish to maintain energy policies that favor oil and gas interests. More needs to be done to stop the buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure by continuing to update FERC policies to consider their impacts on climate change. This needs to happen regardless of the person approved for the post.

John Szalasny


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