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U.S. senators grill regulators over climate policy on natural gas projects -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – A sign warning of underground natural gas pipes outside Rifle (Colorado), June 6, 2012, is shown by a natural gas pipe. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photograph

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Top U.S. senators questioned Democratic energy regulators on Thursday. They recently adopted guidelines to approve new projects that permit consideration of climate and landowner issues.

In February, the three Democrats comprising the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to update the guidelines. This was the first vote since 1999. Analysts warn that it could pose a problem for future gas projects. Two Republicans were against the guidelines.

Joe Manchin (a Democrat representing West Virginia’s natural gas-producing West Virginia) stated that “in my opinion, there is an attempt by some to inflict Death by a Thousand Cuts on the fossil fuels which have made our Energy reliable and Affordable.” Manchin is the head of Senate Energy Committee. At a hearing, all five FERC Members appeared.

Richard Glick (a Democrat) is the Chairman of FERC. He stated that the aim of the guidelines was to provide an “updated, legally durable framework”. This includes guidance received from federal courts and how the commission approaches natural gas pipelines permitting and liquefied natural gases facilities.

After Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, the oil, gas and coal industries and legislators from countries that produce fossil fuels have intensified criticisms of Democratic policies regarding climate change and pipelines. Russia produces approximately 10% of all the world’s oil and gas. This situation could threaten Russia’s ability to export it.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who is the top Republican on the committee, said that FERC’s decision was “just another attack in (President Joe] Biden’s war against American energy.”

Biden has nominated Willie Phillips, a fellow Democrat who was also a former Chair of Washington, D.C.’s utilities commission.

A FERC interim guidance approved February 17 mandates environmental impact statements for natural gas projects that produce more than 100,000 metric tonnes per year of greenhouse gases. This is a lengthy process, which opponents claim can prove tedious and cumbersome.

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