CPR's Hammond Testifies at House Energy and Commerce Hearing

by Erin Kesler

This morning CPR Scholar and George Washington University Law School professor Emily Hammond will testify at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power entitled, "Quadrennial Energy Review."

According to Professor Hammond's testimony:

A critical challenge for energy policy in the United States is that it has evolved in a piecemeal fashion, focusing on specific energy resources through source-specific federal and state agencies. Creating an Interagency Task Force, as this Section does, is an important step in bridging the gaps between the enumerated agencies’ particular statutory mandates. Indeed, agencies stand to be more successful—in achieving stakeholder support and in avoiding litigation—when they coordinate their efforts and ensure that their diverse perspectives are brought to bear on major policy matters.

But the composition of the Task Force has significant gaps that will hinder—not help— the development of comprehensive energy policy. Most critical is the absence of agencies with environmental expertise like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Not only do energy projects implicate traditional environmental concerns—like water use and water quality, air pollution, and ecosystem protection—but, as recognized in the Quadrennial Energy Report (QER), the energy sector is at the heart of climate change policy. One need look no further than the debates surrounding EPA’s Clean Power Plan and MACT Rule, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC’s) Order 745 governing demand response, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) Rule on Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel to see that the lines between energy and the environment are more blurred than ever.

I urge you instead to take steps to better integrate energy and environmental policy, and to consider the policy ramifications of energy decisions on jobs and the economy as well. With that in mind, I am also concerned that other critical agencies, like those whose missions relate to jobs and economic development, are also omitted from the Task Force.

As demonstrated by the QER Interagency Task Force, all of these agencies can successfully work together toward developing and implementing policies governing energy resources and related environmental issues.  Indeed, agencies that fail to consult with one another risk judicial remand, while the public suffers the consequences of delay and the United States loses its effectiveness on the international energy stage.

Finally, these concerns are deepened because the list of policymaking criteria in the Discussion Draft does not include environmental issues. By failing to include such issues—and especially, climate change—in the policymaking criteria, the Task Force will deepen the current dysfunctions in our energy regulatory system and energy markets. In addition, this section calls for participation of too narrow a set of stakeholders. Most importantly, the public is not given a seat at the table. At the very least, there should be an opportunity for comment by any interested person on the interagency coordination plan, followed by a mandate that the Task Force consider all input in developing a final interagency coordination plan.

To read Hammond's full testimony, click here.

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