|RICHMOND (May 7, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 11 attorneys general in calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to impose an immediate moratorium on approvals of all new and pending applications for natural gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities, and related fossil-fuel infrastructure projects until the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Oftentimes these kinds of projects have a direct impact on the individuals and communities around them and can also go against state climate change policies, making them the subject of substantial public debates and public comment periods,” said Attorney General Herring. “The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented limitations on people’s ability to engage in organization efforts and hold public meetings. FERC should suspend approval of all new fossil fuel infrastructure related projects until the pandemic has passed and the public has the ability to engage fully.”
In their letter to FERC, the attorneys general noted that fossil fuel infrastructure projects are frequently the subject of vigorous public debate and can have a profound on-the-ground impact on individuals and communities. A FERC permit enables a pipeline company to seize private land through eminent domain and to construct supporting infrastructure that may burden nearby communities with decades of pollution. Such projects also often run counter to state policies to confront climate change and promote the use of clean energy. Once approved there is often little that can be done to stop these projects from moving forward.
For these reasons, stakeholders such as landowners, state and local governments, and environmental and conservation groups are vital voices in FERC hearings and proceedings. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, imposes unique burdens on the public’s ability to organize community interests and participate in FERC decision-making.
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia.