Reps. Olson & Green Act to Address FERC Backlog to Improve Federal Review of LNG Terminals
WASHINGTON, DC – As American natural gas production increases and demand for our energy spikes around the world, the process at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review the applications for construction of energy export terminals has been stymied by a shortage of highly specialized engineers. Salary is a critical component in deciding where to work, and it has become clear that at this time engineers can work in the private sector for significantly higher pay than FERC can offer. The disparity has made it harder attract the expertise and talent needed to review needed infrastructure projects. That’s why Reps. Pete Olson and Gene Green have introduced H.R. 6552, to give FERC the flexibility to consult with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and determine appropriate salaries to hire the staff they clearly need.
“Not only is this step important in getting infrastructure built in this country, but it has precedent. The Securities and Exchange Commission was given similar authority by Congress to bridge the wage gap in the financial sector,” said Rep. Pete Olson. “It makes sense in highly specialized energy jobs to do the same. Our energy can’t be properly utilized sitting in storage instead of being shipped to markets that need it. We must address this fundamental backlog in a smart way. Giving FERC needed pay flexibility in specific jobs will reduce that backlog and address a critical need. I thank my colleague Gene Green for working on this issue with me and look forward to moving it quickly through committee and to the House floor.”
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a vital job for both ensuring environmental safety and advancing America’s energy dominance as we continue to see new expansion from the shale boom,” said Rep. Gene Green. They need qualified engineers and lawyers to do this job effectively but often can’t recruit talented individuals into these roles due to the severe limits of the government pay scale when compared to the private sector. Just as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been granted authority by Congress to address the wage gap at the SEC, our bill will do the same FERC ensuring that talented regulators will be available to review much needed infrastructure development”
“The task of reviewing applications for vital infrastructure such as liquefied natural gas export terminals is among the Commission’s top responsibilities,” said FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. “While the talented staff at the Commission has been working diligently to evaluate these applications, more needs to be done to ensure our process moves forward in an efficient manner. All stakeholders, from project developers to local communities, appreciate a process that is timely and predictable.
“In addition to other creative solutions, I believe we need to bolster the Commission’s ability to better recruit and compensate the skilled staff needed to review these applications. I want to thank Reps. Pete Olson and Gene Green for their attention to this important issue and for their bipartisan efforts to help the Commission tackle the review of key energy infrastructure.”
Under H.R. 6552, the Commission would have to consult with OPM to determine appropriate salaries. They would only be able to offer higher salaries for positions/roles where they can confirm a critical need, and would have to review that decision every five years. They would also have to report on hiring and staffing as the process moves forward.