Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 24, 2021


Contact: Howard Crystal, (202) 809-6926,

Senators Support FERC Petition to Curb Misuse Of Ratepayer Funds on Anti-Environment Trade Groups

WASHINGTON— Five Democratic U.S. senators urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today to grant a Center for Biological Diversity petition that would change the way ratepayers are charged for payments utilities make to trade groups obstructing the renewable energy transition.

It is currently easy for utility companies to recover these payments from customers. The Center’s March 2021 petition seeks to amend the Uniform System of Accounts to force utilities to justify any efforts to recover these costs.

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) have signed a letter supporting the petition.

“We’re pleased to see Senate leaders support our FERC petition to curb this outrageous misuse of ratepayer money,” said Howard Crystal, legal director of the Center’s Energy Justice program. “Customers struggling to pay their energy bills shouldn’t be forced to subsidize trade groups that are defending fossil fuel pollution in the face of the climate emergency.”

Last month a coalition of more than 80 environmental organizations led by Vote Solar and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance submitted a letter supporting the FERC petition. A diverse array of additional organizations have submitted supporting comments, including numerous state citizen utility boards, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Nevada Attorney General’s office.

“Just two weeks ago Samantha Bee ran a story showing how the gas industry is hiring social media influencers to promote gas cooking, and this kind of advocacy shouldn’t be funded by ratepayers,” Crystal said.

FERC is currently considering how to proceed with the petition.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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