New FERC Commissioner urged to prioritize environmental and energy justice

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WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Tuesday night to confirm Willie Phillips to fill a vacant seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Phillips, former chairman of the DC Public Service Commission, will serve a five-year term on the commission, which regulates energy infrastructure, including pipelines, liquid natural gas terminals, and interstate transmission of electricity, gas and electricity. fracking and petroleum.

Conservation, indigenous and environmental justice groups have urged Phillips to use his new position to help transform the country’s dangerous fossil fuel energy system into a renewable, resilient and unique one. In August, the groups were joined by more than 450 organizations pushing President Biden to appoint an environmental and energy justice champion to the commission.

“We are in a climate emergency, and I hope Phillips will join other commissioners in quickly accelerating a just and renewable energy revolution,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, energy justice activist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Phillips must call for bogus solutions, stand up to corporate utilities and reject pipelines, gas plants and other fossil fuel infrastructure. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this commission, and Phillips has a tremendous opportunity to prioritize climate, people and environmental justice.

“It was clear that Phillips was unaware of any treaty rights or obligations towards Indigenous communities, but his experience may demonstrate a tendency to at least listen to the nuances that the FERC commission must abide by with its duty to uphold. treaty rights for tribal nations and projects that threaten and impact our communities, ”said Joye Braun, National Pipeline Campaign Organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network. “We hope that the era of destructive fossil fuel projects that threaten our waters and lands and increase sex and human trafficking will end. We hope Phillips will be part of this paradigm shift towards a fairer transition from fossil fuels and bogus solutions. “

“Willie Phillips has spent his career working alongside the giants of the oil and gas industry and electric utilities,” said Mitch Jones, director of policy at Food & Water Watch. “We certainly hope he proves that he has finally seen the light and recognized the dangers inherent to our climate and our communities that continued tolerance for fossil fuels will bring.” We need a clean energy champion at FERC, not the dirty energy status quo. We will be keeping a close eye on Phillips from day one in office.

“Sir. Phillips was not the FERC commissioner we hoped for, but we haven’t given up hope that he can change his past behavior,” said Drew Hudson, senior national organizer of Friends of the Earth. “We are counting on Phillips and the new Democratic majority in FERC to build back better by putting environmental justice at the forefront. This means no new pipelines, no new export terminals, no more dirty fossil fuels at all -” especially not in the black, brown, and low-income communities that are historically affected first and worst by pollution and climate change. ”

“For many years, FERC commissioners, regardless of party, voted almost unanimously to approve all but two of the gas industry’s fossil fuel projects,” said Melinda Tuhus, organizer of the gas industry. Beyond Extreme Energy. “Things have changed a bit over the past few years, and Mr. Phillips needs to be a part of that change. It must take into account the latest IPCC report on catastrophic impacts to come and the IEA report which calls for the funding and construction of any new fossil fuel projects to end this year. His decisions and those of other Commissioners will have enormous impacts, positive or negative, on humanity and all life for decades to come, especially people of color and low-income communities.

“Phillips has confirmed that his strategy as FERC Commissioner will focus on affordability, reliability and sustainability,” said Dorothy Slater, senior researcher and climate manager at Revolving Door Project. “We urge him to remember that while he may be inclined to favor suppliers in this approach, his most important constituents are people and the planet. His legacy will depend on whether or not he leads the country through a rapid energy transition that prioritizes justice, and he must do so even if it reduces his chances of landing a job in a well-paying private public service afterwards. his tenure at FERC. We will follow him closely to make sure he chooses correctly.

Comments on Phillips’ confirmation from other organizations can be found here.

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