Kuster Announces Bill to Fund Office of Public Participation within Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) During Event with Local Town Officials
Milford, NH – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined with local residents, town officials, and other stakeholders to announce the introduction of her Energy Consumer Advocacy Act. This bipartisan bill would authorize funding for the Office of Public Participation within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency responsible for approving energy projects around the country.
When fully funded, the Office of Public Participation will be responsible for including community members and local stakeholders in FERC’s review process, and it would require the agency to strengthen public engagement efforts when reviewing proposed energy projects similar to the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline, which was recently suspended and removed from consideration.
“I’ve met countless times with local community members who would have been impacted by the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and what I heard time and time again was that FERC was not adequately taking their viewpoints into consideration. This is simply unacceptable,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We must ensure that any time a new energy project will have a significant impact on local communities, members of those communities must not only be heard, but also given power to influence the final outcome of FERC’s decision. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which will fund the Office of Public Participation within FERC and require the agency to better involve constituents in the review process. It is time for FERC to stop acting like a rubber stamp for energy projects, and start operating like a regulatory agency. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together to pass this bill into law.”
Kuster was at the forefront of the fight in New Hampshire to ensure that constituent voices were heard when energy company Kinder Morgan proposed building a natural gas pipeline through Southern New Hampshire. Despite multiple calls by Kuster, town officials, and other delegation members for FERC to take public input into consideration, FERC’s process for reviewing the Kinder Morgan proposal would have greatly benefitted from increased public participation. Kuster’s bill would authorize funding for the Public Participation office, allowing it to become operational.
During the press conference, Kuster was joined by the Town Administrator of Milford, Mark Bender; the Town Administrator of Brookline, Tad Putney; the Chair of the Temple Energy Committee and former Chair of the N.H. Pipeline Health Advisory Group Beverly Edwards; and residents from Hollis and other towns across the region to discuss the bill and the impact it would have on future energy projects proposed in the area and across the country. Along with the other members of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, Kuster helped lead the fight in calling on both FERC and Kinder Morgan to include affected communities in the planning and approval process of the NED pipeline. The Congresswoman visited sites along the proposed route, held roundtable discussions with local community members, and continuously relayed the thoughts of her constituents to the agency. She repeatedly called for additional FERC hearings where the public could voice their concerns to FERC staff, and she asked for the preliminary comment deadline to be delayed in order to ensure that all constituent voices would be heard. The Energy Consumer Advocacy Act would help ensure that these actions are always taken whenever a new energy project is being considered.