Activists Continue to Push Keep It In The Ground Agenda During the Pandemic
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a decisive blow to environmental activists by denying their motion to intervene in the approval process of the Double E Pipeline. The decision comes on the heels of a coordinated campaign to stop the construction of infrastructure across the country, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
FERC first issued public notice of the pipeline’s construction on August 14, 2019, giving the public three weeks to comment. During that time environmental groups did not issue any comments. The comment period was opened once again from March 24 through April 23, 2020. On the final day, Wild Earth Guardians, the Sierra Club, and Western Environmental Law Center filed a late motion to intervene in this project after the deadline on the final day.
As a last ditch effort to stop the project, the groups tried to lobby FERC into extending the comment period. On April 9, these groups sent a letter stating COVID-19 has “led to insufficient time for review and comment preparation to meet the April 23 comment deadline for the Environmental Assessment.” Notably, while they claimed to have not had enough time to prepare and issue a comment, they were able to outline their objections within the letter sent two weeks prior to the comment deadline.
This is just the latest example of environmental groups and activists using the COVID-19 crisis in order to advance their own agendas. Last month for instance, a group of lawmakers sent a letter to FERC urging them to halt pipeline projects around the country, including the Double E Pipeline. Lawmakers also tried to exclude oil and natural gas workers from relief packages aimed at helping the industries hit hardest by the pandemic’s ensuing economic crisis.
Industry playing their part
Meanwhile, across the country, companies and trade associations are donating personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, giving millions of dollars to charities and non-profits, and ensuring technology for students, helping alleviate some of the difficulties of the pandemic.
The oil and natural gas industry will also be a crucial part of the country’s economic recovery. During these challenging times, it is important to remember, the crisis is only temporary. The industry currently employs over 190,000 people in Texas, alone. The country’s economy will soon be back up and running and, unlike some activist’s claims, demand for oil and gas will closely follow. Infrastructure projects, like the Double E Pipeline, will be key to this success, better positioning the United States once demand, inevitably, returns.