466 groups urge Biden to fill FERC headquarters with environmental and energy justice champion
WASHINGTON – More than 460 U.S. environmental and energy justice, racial justice, faith and youth organizations sent a letter today urging President Joe Biden to nominate a candidate for the Federal Regulatory Commission of the energy that will defend environmental and energy justice.
The letter names three candidates to replace Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, whose term has expired. One is Daniel Blackman, a former Georgia Service Commission candidate and critic of fossil-fuel-focused utility giant Georgia Power. Another is Marquita Bradshaw, the first black woman to win the Democratic nomination for a seat in the Tennessee Senate and victorious opponent of the Byhalia Pipeline. The third choice is Nidhi Thakar, longtime renewable energy lawyer and national co-chair of Clean Energy for Biden.
The Biden White House’s legacy of climate and environmental justice will depend on that nomination, according to the groups. As the federal agency that oversees interstate gas infrastructure and wholesale electricity markets, FERC has immense power to curb the growth of fossil fuels and the integration of renewables only.
“The Biden administration will not meet its goal of eradicating systemic racism in energy and environmental decision-making with a status quo appointment to FERC,” said Dana Johnson, director of federal policy at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. “We urge President Biden to appoint a commissioner who cares about FERC’s legacy of putting projects first, has the courage to apply an equity and fairness lens to his work and will be accountable to the people and communities who suffer disproportionate harm from the energy sector.
“We must seize this substantial opportunity to appoint a visionary commissioner who can enact federal changes to our racist and ecocidal energy system,” said Jean Su, director of energy justice at the Center for Biological Diversity. âWith people dying from coast to coast to coast from extreme heat waves and hurricanes, the climate emergency is undeniably here. FERC has a critical role to play in ensuring that we prioritize renewables and only renewables before it’s too late.
âThe Biden administration must raise a FERC candidate who will uphold justice for indigenous and frontline communities. The impacts of the fossil fuel industries, of pipeline infrastructure, including Enbridge’s Line 3, put our people in jail. A justice-based FERC candidate could be a first step in showing good faith and keeping the broken promises of the Biden administration, âsaid Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
âIf the world is to prevent climate escalation and social disruption, US agency FERC must play a key role,â said Ted Glick, organizer of Beyond Extreme Energy. âIt needs to stop being an approval agency for gas industry expansion, and it needs to upgrade the power grid to rapidly advance renewables and battery storage. This FERC appointment, if strong, can make it a reality. “
âWe don’t need small changes at FERC – we need a whole new agency and new leadership,â said Drew Hudson, lead national organizer of Friends of the Earth. âIf President Biden is serious about achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, he must look beyond the industry insiders and utility sympathizers who have dragged us into the climate crisis. “
âIt is high time that President Biden appointed a new FERC commissioner. Every day he waits for this appointment – and others in crucial independent agencies – is a missed opportunity for climate action, âsaid Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project. “We look forward to Biden choosing a commissioner who aligns with his stated campaign goals of ensuring environmental justice and accountability to the people, not to polluters and corporations.”
âAfter six months in office, President Biden’s climate and environment platform is on the line. If he doesn’t act decisively now, he could doom us to a future of unlivable climate chaos. Choosing a FERC candidate who rejects the development of new fossil fuels would be a strong sign that Biden intends to take our climate crisis seriously, âsaid Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.
âFor too long, FERC has been a buffer for pipeline companies, helping to accelerate the destruction of communities in the southern Gulf. If President Biden is serious about his commitments to environmental justice, he must appoint a commissioner who will put people first, âsaid Kendall Dix, policy officer at the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy.
The letter notes that this coalition of groups was able to identify the three individuals who center justice in their work with far fewer resources and less time than the White House. He encourages the Biden administration to consider these candidates as part of expanding their own candidate search.