Raskin, McGovern, Omar Urge Moratorium on New Pipeline Projects During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 15, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representatives Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Ilhan Omar (MN-05) today led 26 House Members in writing to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil Chatterjee urging a moratorium on the approval and construction of new natural gas pipeline projects and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export facilities during the coronavirus pandemic in order to protect the public health and the environment.

The Members wrote: “FERC’s already inadequate public participation process has become even more difficult for people to navigate. Access to public records has been severely curtailed. Public hearings have been cancelled or rescheduled. While everyday life has been thrown into turmoil and it has become a struggle for most Americans just to put food on the table and keep their families safe, FERC’s comment and intervention deadlines have not budged. A moratorium on pipeline and export facility approvals is necessary to help ensure that Americans are not excluded from a decision-making process that has profound and irreversible consequences for their lives and communities.”

The Members continued: “A moratorium would also clearly help safeguard the public health. There are numerous reports of construction crews nationwide working without proper personal protective equipment and new construction will subject thousands of workers and their families to continuing danger.”

“Continuing with business-as-usual during this crisis when so many Americans are unable to participate in the review process will cast a dark cloud over the integrity and results of FERC’s proceedings,” said Congressman Raskin.

“It’s deeply concerning and wrong that FERC is using this public health emergency as an excuse to waive important regulatory safeguards that protect our communities,” said Congressman McGovern. “What’s worse is that this is increasingly going on behind closed doors as access to public records is curtailed and public hearings are cancelled or rescheduled. In light of these alarming facts, it is imperative that we place a nationwide moratorium on new pipeline projects during this pandemic. The health and welfare of the American people – including thousands of construction workers who could be subject to unsafe working conditions – is at stake.”

“Crews across the country are being forced to work without personal protective equipment on the construction of polluting pipelines. It is clear that this new construction will subject thousands of workers and their families to continuing danger,” said Congresswoman Omar. “It’s critical we have a moratorium on the approval and construction of new natural gas pipeline projects until this pandemic ends.”

A copy of the full letter is available here.

The letter is also co-signed by the following House Members: Nanette Diaz Barragán, Donald S. Beyer Jr, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver II, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Gerald E. Connolly, Adriano Espaillat, Tulsi Gabbard, Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr., Stephen F. Lynch, Jesús G. "Chuy" García, Deb Haaland, Jared Huffman, Alan Lowenthal, Tom Malinowski, Jerrold Nadler, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky, Darren Soto, Mark Takano, Rashida Tlaib, Mike Quigley, Nydia M. Velázquez, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The letter is endorsed by more than 40 environmental organizations, including: Delaware Riverkeeper Network, VOICES (Victory Over InFRACKstructure, Clean Energy inStead) Coalition, Food & Water Watch, Rachel Carson Council, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Berks Gas Truth, Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Homeowners Against Land Taking (HALT), Green Sanctuary UU Church of Reading, Better Path Coalition, Bucks Environmental Action, Climate Hawks Vote, Anthropocene Alliance, Earthkeeper Health Resources, Athens County's Future Action Network, LaPlaca and Associates LLC, FreshWater Accountability Project, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), Preserve Franklin, Coalition to Protect New York, FrackBustersNY, Kingston Greenways Association, Save Carbon County, Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy, Green Team First Church in Oberlin UCC, Kendal at Oberlin Environmental Concerns Committee, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Preserve Monroe, Indian Watershed Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania, Protect Our Water Heritage Rights (POWHR), NY Water Action, Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, Preserve Montgomery County VA, Oil Change International, Bold Alliance, Protect Our Commonwealth, The Rural Project, Indivisible Virginia, and Preserve Salem.

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