On the 18th of January, Beyond Extreme Energy showed up outside FERC, the Federal Energy “Regulatory” Agency. They were there to demand that possibly retiring FERC commissioner Cherly Lefleur vote against several proposed fracked gas export facilities-and against Canadian and other foreign pipeline companies using eminent domain for private gain against US residents.
Pipeline companies get a guaranteed 14% return on equity on new gas pipelines. This all but guarantees overbuilding this infrastructure as few investments can match this. FERC is perhaps Trump’s model for how a Federal regulatory agency should be run, captive to and a total rubber stamp for the industry regulated due to dependence on it for all their financing.
FERC was meeting to deliberate on the Willis Lateral Project, a fracked gas pipeline lateral in South East Texas. Concerns were expressed prior to FERC’s 10 AM meeting that Cheryl Lefleur’s recent round of votes to approve almost every possible gas export terminal may be an “audition” for a job in the gas industry. For a while she was voting to block new fracked gas infrastructure, but now she is voting with what may well be her own pocketbook. Even if July 18 does not turn out to be FERC commissioner Cheryl LeFleur’s last session as a FERC commissioner(as some thought this might be), FERC is paid by the gas and electrical utilities and effectively paid in proportion to what they approve! This funding model instead of the usual Federal funding is equivalent to a charter requiring FERC to sustain itself solely from industry bribes. FERC has long been known as the pipeline industry’s rubber stamp, and until recent and intense rounds of activism was not known to ever block any project no matter how destructive.
There are now cracks in FERC’s facade however,with one vacancy and another commissioner voting against the agency’s own financial interests to block new gas infrastructure. This made Cheryl Lefleur the swing vote in a 4 member commission at the July 18 meeting, thus the focus on her by Beyond Extreme Energy and others seeking to block the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and several other facilities.