FERC to FREC?

Source: By KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Monday, December 16, 2019

 FERC — an independent regulator of pipelines and power markets — is the subject of some aggressive climate plans Democrats are contemplating, leaving some candidates to argue for an overhaul of the agency, Pro’s Gavin Bade reports this morning.

“You can’t do a Green New Deal if you allow FERC to continue as it is,” said Drew Hudson, an activist with Beyond Extreme Energy, an anti-fossil fuel group that has routinely disrupted FERC meetings to protest natural gas pipelines. “FERC would just frustrate the efforts, so you have to transform it.”

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have endorsed a far-reaching proposal from Hudson’s group to rebrand the agency as the Federal Renewable Energy Commission and orient its mission toward fighting climate change — but neither has spelled out in detail how they would make that happen.

While other candidates have not included FERC in their climate platforms, any plan to scale up clean energy deployment or institute a carbon tax would require heavy involvement from the federal regulator.

Activists have long argued that the Federal Power Act and Natural Gas Act can be interpreted to allow FERC to regulate carbon emissions when it evaluates pipelines and power rates. But for decades, FERC regulators from both parties have disagreed. “I’m not entirely convinced at this point that we actually have the authority to go beyond what we’ve already been doing” to consider climate change in power markets, Democratic Commissioner Richard Glick told POLITICO.