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Environmentalists Follow Through On Threats To Target Trump’s Energy Nominees


Environmentalists burst into a Senate hearing Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s nominees to lead the agency responsible for regulating U.S. pipelines.

Anti-pipeline protesters interrupted members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee while they heard testimonies from the three nominees chosen to head the agency tasked with regulating the country’s pipeline infrastructure.

Trump nominated Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to fill gaps at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which lost a key commission member earlier this year, preventing the agency from acquiring a quorum on contentious natural gas pipelines. Senators are also questioning Dan Brouillette, Trump’s nominee for deputy secretary at the Department of Energy.

The protests were part of a months-long campaign targeting the agency that activists believe is responsible for approving projects they believe cause global warming.

“I am compelled to interrupt this because I have seen the destruction that climate change causes,” a woman shouted at West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin while he was questioning Chatterjee.

A campaign to target whoever the president nominated was announced in March expressly to “spotlight the growing national opposition” to new FERC appointments, according to a media advisory explaining the new campaign.

Protesters at Thursday’s congressional hearing chanted anti-FERC slogans.

“FERC hurts families! Shut FERC down,” another protester, while another activist chained himself to a chair, which was later removed along with him. The senators and nominees ignored the disruptions, either trying to speak over the protesters or waiting until they were out.

Trump elevated a member to head FERC shortly after taking the White House, causing the demoted member to retire and leaving the committee with only two panelists. Trump’s nominees are pegged to add a one lost member and replace the outgoing Obama-appointed chairman.

Trump’s decision to approve the highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota prompted environmentalists to attack nearly every ongoing pipeline project under discussion. They’ve now turned their ire toward the short-handed agency.

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