WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said on Thursday the panel will create a senior position on environmental justice, to make sure new energy projects, such as pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities, do not unfairly harm minority communities.
“I believe that the Commission should more aggressively fulfill its responsibilities to ensure our decisions don’t unfairly impact historically marginalized communities,” Richard Glick, a Democrat recently appointed to head the panel by President Joe Biden, told reporters during a teleconference.
While the panel is required to consider green justice issues under the National Environmental Policy Act, Glick said in recent years, it has not always emphasized its responsibility.
“I thought we really haven’t taken the issue too seriously especially with regards to a couple of LNG projects,” Glick said. He did not name the projects as they are pending.
Glick said the FERC would be spending more time considering whether fossil fuel projects would expose nearby residents to a lot of particulate pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, or NOX.
FERC should consider whether pollution impacts on communities could be mitigated by moving the projects or installing more pollution controls, Glick said.
“We need to have their voices heard, the communities’ voices heard. I think they feel like, talking to some folks over the last several years, they don’t feel like we care about their plight … or their conditions,” Glick said.
Biden’s recently signed executive orders require the White House to create two councils to “increase the Federal Government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental injustice.”
The orders also require the publishing of recommendations on directing 40% of benefits from clean-energy investments to the most disadvantaged communities for remediation, sustainable housing and workforce training.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)