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“Biden’s Secret Weapon To Cleaning Up Energy Is Spelled FERC”

“President Joe Biden outlined ambitious new plans for taking on climate change on Wednesday, but the most potent weapon may already be in his arsenal.

The five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is poised to play a pivotal role fulfilling Biden’s clean-energy ambitions, including his vow to strip greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector over the next 14 years. FERC could help Biden deliver on those promises by fostering carbon prices on electricity, propelling a massive build-out of high-voltage power lines and making it harder to build natural gas pipelines.

“Transforming the American electric sector to produce power without carbon pollution will be a tremendous spurt of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” the president said Wednesday, as he signed a series of climate directives.

Biden can’t count on help from Congress. With Democrats having only a narrow hold on the House and Senate, it’s unlikely both chambers will pass broad clean energy legislation, including a nationwide renewable power mandate.

Enter FERC, which can accomplish many of the same goals, said Ari Peskoe, director of Harvard Law School’s Electricity Law Initiative.”

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Ari Natter, and Naureen S. Malik report for Bloomberg January 31, 2021.