Week Ahead

Climate Week Ahead

Experts Talk Glasgow, FERC To Weigh Natural Gas Projects’ GHG Emissions

November 15, 2021

Lawmakers, industry and environmentalists will unpack pledges made at the just-completed COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and discuss future moves. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will host a technical conference to discuss methods for assessing the significance of natural gas projects’ greenhouse gas emissions.

Post-Glasgow Analysis

Politico will host its inaugural Sustainability Summit on Nov. 16 to explore the pledges made at COP26 and discuss how to convert these pledges into long-term change. Speakers include Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, as well as industry and advocacy groups.

And, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute is holding a Nov. 18 briefing to recap COP26, with a focus on why it matters for Congress. Analysts on the panel for the “Recap of COP26: Key Outcomes and What Comes Next: Briefing Series on the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow” event will review key takeaways from both private sector and government perspectives.

Check out our latest Glasgow coverage for more analysis.

FERC’s GHG Assessments

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is hosting a Nov. 19 technical conference to “discuss methods natural gas companies may use to mitigate the effects of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Natural Gas Act sections 3 and 7 authorizations.” The commission has long struggled to determine whether it must assess the greenhouse gas impacts of natural gas projects it approves but after being ordered to do so by federal courts, the commission is now struggling to determine whether and how to assess the “significance” of any emissions.

FERC Chairman Richard Glick (D) has bemoaned this stance, arguing the panel should be able to determine the significance of a project’s GHG emissions and potentially require greater mitigation efforts. However, the commissioners are stymied because the five-member body still has just two Democratic members as they wait on the Senate to approve Willie Phillips, the former Washington, D.C., utility regulator who President Joe Biden has nominated to serve on the panel.

Background Reading: EPA Renews Push For FERC To Assess ‘Climate Damages’ Of Gas Projects

The commission is also hosting a Nov. 18 open meeting where commissioners are expected to act on several pending gas and power issues.

Congress

Congress returns from its Veterans Day recess, with the House expected to vote on pending budget reconciliation legislation to implement President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, which includes significant new climate spending. House passage of the legislation is likely to bolster advocates, who have charged that the bipartisan infrastructure bill lawmakers approved last week does not do enough on climate. But the measure is likely to face tough sledding in the Senate, with several climate provisions likely to face opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Background Reading: Infrastructure Bill No Climate Substitute For Budget Plan, Groups Say

In addition, several committees are meeting to consider key climate-related issues. The House Energy and Commerce Energy and Environment and Climate Change subcommittees will hold a joint hearing on Nov. 16 to consider supply-chain challenges facing the clean energy sector.

Background Reading: White House Floats Detailed Plan To Boost EV Battery, Mining Supplies

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will also hold a Nov. 16 hearing on domestic and international energy price trends. Senators will discuss causes and implications of domestic and international energy price trends, and will be joined by witnesses including Stephen Nalley, acting administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, as well as a representative of the International Energy Agency.

Power Transmission

The House Natural Resources Committee’s energy and mineral resources subcommittee will hold a hearing titled “Oversight: Plugging in Public Lands: Transmission Infrastructure for Renewable Energy.” The hearing will discuss advancing “responsible” clean energy infrastructure on public lands and waters.

During recent subcommittee hearings addressing renewable infrastructure, Democratic lawmakers have pushed for increased Congressional and federal agency support while Republicans have underscored Americans’ current supply shortages and high energy prices as a reason to slow the shift away from oil and natural gas.

Background Reading: Wind Power Groups Urge Increased Capitol Hill Aid for Offshore Expansion

And, the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) will host a virtual Nov. 17 webinar on emerging electric grid technologies. Titled “Advanced Technology and a Resilient Electric Grid: Assessing Risks and Planning for the Future,” NASEO will discuss state planning for potential risks and resilience around technologies including hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors, and energy storage, with the goal of decarbonizing states’ electric grid.

Climate Resilience

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a Nov. 18 hearing to consider the nomination of Erik Hooks to be the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) deputy administrator, as well as several other Biden administration nominees.

The agency has been at the center of attention as it works to strengthen its flood management processes in the face of major climate-related risk.

Background Reading:

FEMA eyes bolstered flood management standards

FEMA implements new flood insurance rates based on climate risks

EPA researchers will discuss their tools that can be used to help protect fragile ecosystems during a Nov. 16 webinar titled “Resilience of Ecosystems in a Changing Climate.” Part of the EPA Air, Climate, and Energy Research Webinar Series, the call will specifically address research in three areas: EnviroAtlas, a web-based coplanning tool; fish population tracking related to future watershed management that can foster freshwater ecosystem resilience; and the Cumulative Resilience Screening Index, a tool assisting communities in developing resilience to acute weather events.

EPA scientists have previously discussed tools to aid low-income and minority communities in better accounting for climate-related risks.

Also, the American Security Project and University of Arizona on Nov. 16 will host a panel of experts to discuss the effects of climate change on Department of Defense (DOD) installations in Arizona. Panelists at the “A New Mission: Mainstreaming Climate Adaptation in the US Department of Defense” will discuss a new paper led by University of Arizona researchers on DOD climate-related adaptation and the intersection of national security and climate resilience.

Background Reading: DOD Plans To Operationalize Climate Risk Into Services’ Strategic Planning

Pages

Not a subscriber? Sign up for 30 days free access to exclusive environmental policy reporting.