Note: This was an April fool’s post!
Washington DC April 1, 2015
In a move that has shocked the political establishment in Washington, Norman Bay, newly installed Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC), shut down the agency this morning and indicated that the closure would be permanent. Bay cited recently unearthed documents that lead to this surprise decision. The announcement came at a hastily convened press conference at the agency’s headquarters on First Street in Washington.
“Today was my first day as Chairman,” Bay said, “and to help with the transition I held a meeting with former chair Cheryl LeFleur to get her thoughts on the commission. During the meeting she gave a folder of documents that disturbed me deeply and questioned our purpose within the larger Federal Government”.
Bay refused to divulge the details of the documents but did describe an outline of what they contained. According to the new Chairman the contents of the folder were a secret set of processes used within the FERC to streamline energy infrastructure projects and guarantee approvals for the industry.
“The aim of these documents were clear: they were created to get energy projects such as natural gas pipelines and hydro power stations through the approval process and online as quickly as humanly possible. They include extensive meetings where agency staffers would meet in secret with companies applying to the FERC for approval, and coach them in how to word their applications to guarantee success. Worst of all, we have a series of presentations to show how companies can sneak their way around federal and local regulations and get approval for projects that would normally be denied as a matter of course”.
The agency personnel would give energy companies pre-canned spreadsheets, powerpoint presentations, and documents and show them how to adapt them to their projects. “We more or less wrote their applications for them!”, Bay shouted in an emotional outburst during the conference. “I find these revelations appalling and will not allow them to continue. For this and other reasons I am shutting down this agency for good”.
Other unnamed sources in the FERC confirmed Bay’s comments.
“Of course it’s true, it’s an open secret in the industry” said one staffer. She declined to be identified as she is not authorized to speak to the public on internal agency matters. “We have checklists on what they should say and not say in their applications, strategies for working around other agencies such the EPA and Fish and Wildlife, and tips for manipulating local governments and organizations such as municipalities and conservation committees. Where do you think companies like PennEast got the idea to give $5,000 to local fire departments and first responders? That’s in section 4 of the local government playbook. Todd in Energy Projects got a promotion for that idea”.
Congressmen on the Commerce and Energy committee, which oversees agencies such as FERC, had little information on the issue at press time. Committee Chairman Fred Upton issued a brief statement saying “This situation has come to a head very suddenly and we are still evaluating its impact on the legislature and on energy policy in the country. We need time to evaluate this and get a handle on what needs to be done”.
When asked what possible motivation the agency would have for running these programs, Bay responded “It’s all about the markets. Our agency was formed to aid industry going forward in any way we could. Our charter – our secret charter, i should say – is to be cheerleader and facilitator for energy conglomerates. The notion that we have any kind of regulatory focus has been sham since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was passed. Our agency seal is a picture of eagle carrying a shield, with icons for energy sources below. If we were honest we’d change it to picture of Sarah Pallin chanting “Drill baby drill”.