At least $50 billion worth of projects have been slowed or stalled while FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, awaits presidential appointments.
For the first time in FERC’s 40-year history, the agency doesn’t have enough commissioners for a quorum to vote on project applications.
At least a half-dozen pipelines valued at $12 billion face imminent delays, while projects valued at $38 billion are bogged down in an approval process that’s slow in the best of times, Bloomberg reported.
An additional $25 billion of proposed developments just beginning the application process also could be slowed if the situation persists late into the year, Kallanish Energy understands.
The bottleneck can be traced to the White House in the days following Donald Trump’s inauguration. Trump inherited a commission with three sitting Democrats and two Republican vacancies. The president took the chairmanship from Norman Bay, an Obama appointee, and gave it on a temporary basis to Cheryl LaFleur, considered by Republicans to be a friend of the industry.
In February, Bay resigned. That left the commission with just two members, LaFleur and Colette Honorable, whose term ends in June — one shy of the quorum needed to vote on projects. That meant no approvals for new gas pipelines, no decisions on utility mergers, no clearance for new liquid natural gas terminals.
“The lack of a quorum at FERC is an embarrassing debacle for the Trump administration,” Ethan Bellamy, a Denver-based managing director at investment firm Robert W. Baird, told Bloomberg. “The leadership vacuum at FERC is holding up shovel-ready, privately-funded infrastructure spending. We need those positions filled yesterday.”
President Trump has to make this happening quickly. The projects will provide thousands of good paying jobs. He cannot let the Senate delay these projects.