Jan. 21, 2021


The times, they just *may* be changing

The softening of FERC’s hardline, hellbent penchant for gas seems to be taking an increasingly firm hold. Originally formed in the 1970s, in the face of our then strong dependence on OPEC for our energy needs, to regulate the energy transmission markets for electricity, oil and gas and oversee and approve proposed interstate transmission projects like pipelines. It was in the last couple of decades, when the fracking boom took off, that its basis as a facilitator of domestic energy projects allowed it to become a sort of Frankenstein’s monster - the Rubberstamp Machine we’ve all come to know and rail against.

Recent developments include last year’s issuance of FERC Order 2222, telling independent and regional system operators like ISO-New England to make concrete plants to open up wholesale energy markets to distributed generation like wind and solar, the ongoing history of dissent from Commissioner Glick on the basis of climate and the need for a clean energy transition, hesitancy on at least one major pipeline on the long slate for the last day of the Trump administration, and now today’s announcement of Biden’s appointment of Glick as the Chair of FERC. This is possible progress, and continued pressure on FERC to make sure it is is the best thing we can do right now.

Weymouth Gets a Ray of Hope

from our friends at FRRACS

Action Item: We are asking the public to submit comments to FERC using their online comment portal, urging them to approve our request for a rehearing on their decision to approve Enbridge’s certificate of operation.

Background Info: In September of 2020, Enbridge approved Algonquin’s (Enbridge) certificate of operation, which allowed Enbridge to place the compressor station into operation. In response, FRRACS filed a request for a rehearing on the issuance of the in-service certificate to Algonquin (Enbridge) with FERC. Our request was denied in November 2020. On a separate, but important note, the compressor station has been off since the beginning of October after 2 system failures led to a stay of operation while a federal investigation is being done.

On January 19, 2021, the FERC Commissioners met during a virtual open meeting (click here for an audio recording). During the meeting, three of the five Commissioners rejected the denial of FRRACS' rehearing request that was issued in November of 2020.

While this was good on the one hand, it leaves us in legal limbo once again. With no denial, we cannot move to take FERC into the Federal Court of Appeals. With no approval, FERC will not review our request that they rescind the certificate of in-service operation. We need folks to write to FERC, asking them to approve our request for a rehearing.

More info, including how-to and talking points is available on FRRACs nocompressor.com site.
»» Click here to see how to comment
Glick named FERC chair, promises
'significant progress' on energy transition

by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive
January 21, 2021

Commissioner Richard Glick was named chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by President Joe Biden Thursday morning.

Glick was considered a front runner for the chairmanship as the longest serving Democrat on the commission. He will succeed Chairman James Danly, and the commission is expected to retain its Republican majority until Commissioner Neil Chatterjee's term is up June 30.

Glick opposed many of the actions FERC took under Chairmen Chatterjee and Danly, and his long list of dissents and public comments foreshadow a commission more bullish on its role in the power sector's energy transition.

"I'm honored President Joe Biden has selected me to be [FERC] Chairman," Glick said in a tweet. "This is an important moment to make significant progress on the transition to a clean energy future. I look forward to working with my colleagues to tackle the many challenges ahead!"

Though Chatterjee stands by what he sees as "potential market distorting effects of state policies that favor certain resources," newly-minted Commissioners Allison Clements and Mark Christie have both indicated they think FERC should be more considerate of individual state approaches.

» Federal energy commission opts not to consider PennEast Pipeline a day before Biden becomes president
By Caroline Fassett, NJ.com
January 19, 2021

» FERC Dissents Reveal Continued Political Tension on Clean Energy Policy FERC’s sole Democrat blasts New England market and PURPA decisions, warns of legal challenges
By Jeff St. John, GreenTech Media
November 20, 2020

» Glick vows to prioritize transmission, reassess capacity markets if named FERC Chair
By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive
November 18, 2020

» ‘Game-Changer’ FERC Order Opens Up Wholesale Grid Markets to Distributed Energy Resources: A huge opportunity for solar, batteries, EVs and other DERs — and a huge challenge to integrate utility grid operations with bulk energy markets
By Jeff St. John, GreenTech Media
September 17, 2020


Thank you to all who took time to urge Governor Baker to pass Massachusetts’ ambitious climate roadmap legislation.

Unfortunately he chose to veto the bill, once again stating that his hands were tied.

No Fracked Gas in Mass’s Jake Laughner gathered news including why he did, why he should have signed it, and speculation on what could happen next. Brown University also just issued a study on patterns of influence on Beacon Hill this morning. See below.

Reluctantly, governor vetoes Mass. climate change bill, but it may soon be back on his desk
By Matt Stout and David Abel, Boston Globe
January 14, 2021

Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a far-reaching package of climate change and energy legislation Thursday, rejecting — perhaps temporarily — a bill that would have set the state on a path to in effect eliminate its carbon emissions over the next three decades.
The move disappointed but didn’t surprise lawmakers and advocates, who had feared the Republican governor would veto the bill, despite having laid out his own ambitious plan to achieve zero emissions on a net basis by 2050.

The legislation, considered the state’s most sweeping measure to address climate change since the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act in 2008, would have required the state to reduce its emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by the end of the decade.
In a letter to the Legislature, Baker said he shared lawmakers’ goals but differed with them “on how these goals should best be achieved.”

“Reluctantly, I cannot sign this legislation as currently written,” he wrote.

Baker could only sign or veto the 57-page bill, since lawmakers passed and sent it to him one day before their two-year legislative session ended last week.

With more time, Baker said, he would have returned the bill to lawmakers with proposed amendments.

His five-page letter cited a list of reasons why he refused to sign the bill. He said it would have countered a recently enacted law that seeks to promote affordable housing; lacked provisions to help fortify the state against rising seas and other impacts of climate change; would potentially harm regional efforts to procure clean energy; and was not supported by scientific analysis.

But his veto may be short-lived. Democratic leaders in the Legislature have vowed to rush the bill back to Baker’s desk, potentially within days, quickly reviving a package free of the parliamentary limits that Baker suggested had tied his hands.

» Read article        
Real estate groups push for veto of climate bill, saying it could thwart economic recovery
Developers worry that rules allowing towns to adopt “net zero” building requirements could drive up costs and drive away business
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe
January 12, 2021

A business-backed lobbying push over one controversial provision could end up sinking a far-reaching climate and energy bill that the Massachusetts Legislature passed on the penultimate day of its two-year session.

The point of contention: one sentence in the 57-page bill that would allow cities and towns to adopt rules requiring new buildings to be “net zero,” presumably with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.

Among the groups calling for a veto: development lobbyist NAIOP Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts. Among those urging support: environment-focused nonprofits such as Ceres and RENEW Northeast, and a coalition of municipal leaders in 17 cities and towns in Greater Boston.

For some in the business community, the debate mirrors one that played out during the past year or so over banning new natural-gas hookups in several cities and towns. Those efforts hit a big setback in July when Attorney General Maura Healey ruled that a ban in Brookline was preempted by state law.

While advocates for builders and developers support most aspects of the climate bill, they worry this net-zero building provision in particular could derail the state’s economic recovery by creating a new source of construction costs and delays.

» Read article          

An insightful report from Professor Timmons Roberts at Brown University:

As Governor Baker Vetoes Major Climate Bill, New Report Shows Patterns of Influence on Beacon Hill
Utilities, real estate, fossil fuel, and power generation companieslead opposition to climate policy

by Professor Timmons Roberts, Brown University
January 21, 2021

In the wake of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of the most ambitious climate bill to reach his desk, a new analysis authored by scholars at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society provides insights about who is influencing action and inaction on climate and clean energy policy in the Massachusetts state house.

The analysis showed that despite overwhelming public support for climate and clean energy bills ( over 90% of public testimony is in favor), their advancement is undermined by the imbalance of what happens behind closed doors through lobbying. Electricity and natural gas utilities are the most powerful actors when it comes to shaping climate and energy legislation in Massachusetts; other key groups frequently in opposition include the real estate industry, fossil fuels, and power generators. These organizations outspend clean energy advocates on lobbying by more than 3.5 to 1.

“Massachusetts has seen itself as a leader on climate change, but a decade went by with little legislative success,” said Timmons Roberts, Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies andSociology at Brown University and Executive Director of the Climate Social Science Network that released the report.

“The data and analysis provides a potential explanation. We hear anecdotal reports of influence efforts on Beacon Hill, but this systematic data collection revealed important coalitions in support of and opposition to climate action at the state level, and exposed patterns in the behind-the-scenes lobbying that are seldom understood.

”Using a network clustering algorithm, the analysis identified nine interest group coalitions with distinct roles in the climate policy space. Four of these coalitions routinely oppose climate and clean energy bills: those led by the utilities, fossil and chemical companies, real estate companies, and fossil fuel power generation companies. Of these, the utilities are both the largest coalition and include the highest-spending interest groups — Eversource and theAssociated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM).

Help us fight for cleaner air and healthier communities! We're working to shut down Berkshire Co.'s three peaking power plants, burning natural gas, oil and kerosene in Pittsfield and Lee.

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