President Donald Trump has promised to get rid of the bureaucracy and red tape he says are keeping the U.S. from being "energy dominant." But unfilled vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, are keeping more than a dozen energy projects from moving forward.
You may never have heard of FERC. That's because it's a very small part of the Department of Energy — literally just five members. It oversees and regulates pipelines and natural gas exports in America. But it can't do its job without a full team, and the commission hasn't had a quorum since February.
The Senate has confirmed two more members of the commission, and two others have been nominated. A few months may not seem that long for those spots to stay empty, but the work has really piled up.
According to a Politico analysis, there are 18 pipelines and gas projects stuck in limbo and waiting for the final OK because FERC doesn't have the right number of members. All told, those projects could employ 23,000 people in construction jobs and could pump $13 billion into the economy in investments. That's a ton of jobs and a whole lot of money.
And many of those projects run through states Trump won, like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Trump has promised to bring jobs to those areas and jump start more energy production in the U.S. by American companies. So when FERC finally gets its quorum and is able to approve at least some of these projects, the Trump administration is going to be able to tout it as a huge win.