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AG Tong urges FERC to halt fossil fuel infrastructure approvals during coronairus crisis

Christian Fernsby |
Attorney General William Tong 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 coronavirus crisis.

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“Once these pipelines are approved, there is little that can be done to stop the irreversible impact they have on carbon emissions, habitat destruction, and property rights. Now is not the time to rush these projects. FERC must impose an immediate moratorium until all stakeholders can safely and fully be heard,” said Attorney General Tong.

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.

The letter, led by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, was signed by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

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