Federal energy regulators on Thursday March 24, 2022 rolled back plans to consider conducting an assessment to determine how natural gas projects affect climate change, citing pushback from lawmakers and the industry leaders.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced that the plan to assess climate impact will now be considered as a draft and would only be used in future projects.
Last month, lawmakers and various industry groups had downplayed a proposal which had been approved to enforce climate rules, citing poor timing as the push for natural gas exports had tightened following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Criticizing the agency’s move to enforce the climate policy, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin said that the decision is reckless and that it puts the security of the nation at risk.
Just hours before the federal regulators pulled back on their plan on Thursday, the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had written a letter claiming that the energy commission had chosen to do the opposite at a time when the stakeholders should be keen on implementing ways to approve the projects.
Climate activists also called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for giving in to political pressure. Defending the commission, FERC chairman Richard Glick told reporters that since the commission approved the climate policy last month, they have held talks with various pipeline and gas companies, adding that the commission will not do anything with affiliation to politics.
On Feb 17, FERC had approved a policy requiring all officials to evaluate how natural gas projects and pipelines affected climate change. The policy would take effect immediately on future, and pending gas projects. However, the commission took an anonymous poll which ruled out the policy, labelling it as a draft on Thursday.
Following the pull back, FERC panelists approved three natural gas project proposals that had been pending for two months. One of the projects is in New York while the other two will boost gas production in the U.S Gulf Coast.